February 2, 2023

Utilizing our acquired endurance in a cashless economy (1)

May Day amid strike fevers

IN recent weeks, Nigerians have been queuing at banks and ATM machines to obtain new naira notes and deposit old ones, which would have ceased to be legal tender on January 31, 2023 if the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had not extended the deadline to February 10, 2023.

Perhaps, if there had been enough sensitisation by the National Orientation Agency on the benefits accruable to Nigerians from the CBN’s cashless policy, many Nigerians who are complaining today about the hardship the whole exercise has inflicted on them might have decided to endure it. Hardship, no doubt, is undesirable. But like everything else in life, hardship also has its advantages. Hardship, or what some people call the wilderness experience, can toughen people so much that they acquire the ability to survive even the worst of conditions where other people with an easy life have perished.

Nigerians have experienced hardship in not-so-small measures. Like animal and plant species in the wild that have been buffeted over the years by all manner of pests and diseases and, in the process, acquired resistance, Nigerians are capable of deploying their resistance to positive use, having acquired it through exposure to many years of suffering. 

The fighting spirit of Nigerians is legendary. So, we can endure a little bit more suffering, insofar as we can be certain that the bitter pills, which we are gulping down, will heal us and our country.  On the benefits Nigerians stand to gain from a cashless economy, we have assurances from reputable leaders we can trust. Luckily for Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari, this time around, is standing with the people. Repeatedly, the President has promised Nigerians and the international community that he is going to deliver a free and fair election, this February and March 2023. 

Speaking on the naira redesign and deposit of old notes into the bank, the President had said: “My aim is to make sure that Nigerians (are respected). So, Nigerians should vote for whoever they like, from whichever party. Nobody will be allowed to mobilise resources and thugs to intimidate people in any constituency.  That is what I want to go  down the history of Nigeria for.”

Similarly, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, while hosting a delegation of the European Union Election Observation Mission recently at the State House, Abuja, assured Nigerians that when fully operational, the cashless policy being introduced in Nigeria could help stem the surge of illicit election financing by making it possible to track funds.

Other well-meaning Nigerians of note, economists and some media organisations, are also in agreement that the gains accruable from a cashless economy which Nigerians are trying to enthrone, far outweighs the temporary pains Nigerians will pass through at the beginning of the programme.

We, therefore, call on every Nigerian who wishes to see a better country, to support the efforts of the CBN and the Federal Government by helping to educate those who do not understand the policy, by transiting to a cashless lifestyle and by reducing to the barest minimum the amount of cash they carry about daily.