‘Give Us Back Our Naira’ – Kindness Udoh

How Much Money Is Spent On Groceries In Nigeria, Other Countries?

By Kindness Udoh

I know my silence probably doesn’t speak well of my commitment to this newsletter. However, I have been at a loss for words, as I watch the scenes playing out before us on the electoral and governance stage.

They reinforce the saying as referenced in my first newsletter (hyperlink), that this is Nigeria, and whatever you use your eye to see, take it like that.

A lot has happened, and Nigerians have taken to social media to vent their frustrations and have conversations on ‘the way forward’. So many stories that you begin to develop anxiety from the thought of what could be on Twitter’s trend table.

As we await the final episode of the thriller titled, “Fighting To Save Nigeria: The Battle of the Petitions”, there are other pressing matters.

Naira Scarcity…

“Shebi the elections are over, they should release our money to us na,” a very exhausted Nigerian said.

According to findings by the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria, the naira scarcity bears a negative effect on the mental health of Nigerians.

Here’s a quote from the association’s Vice President, Dr. Veronica Nyamali, “Presently, people do not have enough sleep. Instead, they spend lots of their productive time at fuel stations, banks and ATM points.

“There are different displays at banks; people are aggressive; some are even going to the extent of fighting and using abusive words on others without minding the implications.

“The truth is that in all of these, the citizens’ mental health is being affected.

“The situation is enough to bring those who are vulnerable to mental health problems toward fully developing mental health condition and equally putting the non-vulnerable ones at risk.”

The hope now is that this mental health issue won’t consume our psychiatrists, too, so that they can have their wits about them to attend to the rest of us, once the dust has settled. The question now is, when will this dust settle?

How long will Nigerians continue to exchange naira for naira at a premium?. This brings us to the next topic.

PoS Operators…

This segment of financial service providers have decided that this season, they want to build mansions. The service charges are astronomical and Nigerians are feeling the sting.

“Just this morning, I was charged N1,400 for N2,000. What is left in my account?” A colleague of mine shared.

“For every N1,000, I pay a charge of N300. The PoS guy said it was because of the stress with which they got the money. Aren’t we the ones doing ourselves in this country?” a friend said.

The good news (we desperately need more) is that the CBN governor has said that banks will be receiving naira notes to ease the stress Nigerians are going through. But this sounds familiar because for all the times we’ve heard it, the naira continues to play hide and seek, but Nigerians are tired of playing. #Giveusournaira

Let’s hope that the CBN is able to follow through this time and let Nigerians have access to THEIR money (this cannot be stressed enough).

“I hate seeing my debit alerts because I am hate to see how much leaves my account everytime I use a PoS service. The charges are ridiculous, but I have no other choice than to pay it because I need the cash to go to the office and I cannot queue at a bank’s ATM,” a neighbor told me.

Old and young Nigerians queue at banks’ ATMs as early as 5 am to get access to the cash that they stored in trust of the system that is now denying them that access because…vote buying…inflation reduction…something-something.

A closer look at the reasons given for the scarcity of naira in the economy, and one can piece them apart letter by letter. Videos on social media showed that vote buying using cash was not discouraged. In fact, this scarcity spurred innovation in the vote buying ecosystem, with political party agents buying votes on credit, story for another day.

Did the scarcity of cash reduce inflation as was suggested? Nope. If you even bother about this kind of information, you might have heard that inflation rate jumped to 21.9%.

Here’s something from PUNCH, “Headline inflation rose to 21.91 per cent in February amid a naira redesign policy that was meant to mop up cash and curb excess currency in circulation.

“According to the Organised Private Sector in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira redesign policy has contributed to a naira crisis that has driven inflation to record highs. Nigeria’s 21.91 per cent inflation rate for February is the highest in 18 years.”

As Christians will say, it is well.

One last pressing matter, does anyone have a cash plug? Help a brother out.

Do have a wonderful weekend.

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