Lessons As Naira Redesign Backfires
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
One could say without equivocation that at no time has the banking and financial system generally, misbehaved this utterly silly, and incredulously stretching over weeks like unto ‘eternity’ as Nigeria and her citizens have witnessed in the wake of the naira redesign; which implementation has so far wobbled and fumbled.
That the masses of ordinary people like this writer has been held hostage by this ill conceived booby trap policy, poor implementation framework and apparently, with a nonexistent risk management strategy that should have been embedded in the policy layout.
Let us hurry pass the ugly episode of stranded Nigerians under a derelict banking system, sadly enveloped by the nation’s rogue political demagogues and the manifest cult rivalry between actors.
Plus of course, the systems evil conjurers and their Machiavellian minders, who it is believed, effortlessly mopped up what was available; thereby outfoxing one another; and leaving hapless Nigerians as victims, even as the very intendment of the cash swap has largely been defeated.
If the intention of the Buhari administration, using his words, was to prevent stolen stashed funds from been used to rig the 2023 election, didn’t he or his economic minders worked out the estimate of the hedge fund, and hence should have a firm understanding of the dynamics of the supply and demand of the redesigned new notes, with a clear cut out remedial backup counteraction, in the event that the real agenda failed, like it has!
How else can one explain that such a gigantic national microeconomic project crashed at take off, given repeat assertions that this government’s capability is unmatched and is performance orientated?
It is either the ‘technocrats’ who were part of the policy design and implementation were involved in the allegation of sabotage; or else, their academic and professional qualifications, as well indeed those of the government’s economic team, inclusive of the Robin Hoods at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), were not worth their respective offices.
On the political side, more than any other reasons associated with this failure is President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s seeming slow-to-response inertia, vaulting arrogance and spinelessness to address issues of corruption in a regular, transparent and productive manner.
This explains why he has to seek primitive method at interrogating rogue wealth of certain citizens, which massive funds he feared would be channeled to ‘intimidate Nigerians’ and to purchase electoral victory.
Yes, there might have been other factors as has been as adduced by scholars and commentators, from empirical evidence, the biggest takeaway is perhaps, the president and all his men’s alleged shouting incompetence, who didn’t even have the courage to stand up firmly for their conviction.
On the whole, what has copiously manifested is the grease of a common industry, and the display of terrific political tactics and counter measures, leaving the toxic air of bruised ego and the tell tale atmosphere of suspicious mutual hate in an apparent game of wit and entrapment, fueled by a ‘no retreat, no surrender’ pretension.
Nigerians say what has played in reality is a fight between two elephants, where the sufferer is the grass (Nigerian masses). Informed Nigerians have also said that the cash redesign policy has failed through serious system default.
Perhaps the most serious setback in this system default is how quick to refit the cash trapped system and get it working under a win-win strategy, but which the president and his men’s alleged laidback attitude and aversion to correction are not attending to with the urgency it desire.
While it is not a secret that this government has a disturbing record of negative official temperament, and penchant for retorts when things are going wrong, and a resort to blackmail, abuse and psychological arm-twist, when citizens with brighter ideas suggests a contrary approach.
But viewed objectively, our present challenge can be put passed Buhari, even though he shares most of the blame. In my part of the country, (Urhobo speaking people of Delta/Bayelsa states), we have a catch phrase that frowns at endless complaint without admitting to one’s own faults.
Thus the elderly and wise people have devised the exhortation ‘arhiowho hara gaga’, which translated loosely means “It is very easy to find fault with others” and or, “it is very easy to abuse others”, with the admonition to allow issues be viewed in a broadminded manner.
As we agonize, whine and lament our terrible fate for seemingly going from bad to worse, may l at the risk of sounding incredulous say Nigeria is what we all made her, an abused nation. And we are all guilty of the rotten system we complain about, with the prevailing cash trap situation, as manifest case.
On whether our leaders are corrupt, insensitive and or not forward looking, truth is that at every stage, we the people, in this case the ordinary masses who is always at the receiving end, are contributors to the harvest of every conceivable fault lines, both in the national farm since we participated actively during the planting.
We cannot harvest peace when we sow trouble, nor can we harvest efficiency where we planted inefficiency, and by the same token, we cannot have good leaders when we voted bad candidates. This is in keeping with the maxim that says “the end justifies the means.”
It is a logical and natural order that lies in the perfection of all things; visible and invisible; perpetual, immutable and eternal. It is of no avail whether we believe or chose not to believe. Above are parts of the natural phenomenon that pulsates through all of creation, including the earth and its human population, and which does not ask for the opinion of man in the logical fulfillment of this natural order.
It is therefore of no avail when we cry and rub tears on our hands and shoulders at great moments of sorrow as we are currently passing through; which has also brought to the fore, one of our latent corrupt tendency, buried in all of us; unfortunately awaiting the right moment to manifest; as we have seen in the current naira to naira black market imbroglio.
Amongst us the ordinary people, we sell and buy naira at ridiculous and exorbitant commission, which when properly viewed, correspond with the evil activities of politicians and public office holders we have chosen to hold responsible for our present situation.
By no means the least in today’s truth finding agenda, we may wail, curse and swear as much we care, but “we get the kind of leaders we deserve.” When we cry out to the Almighty to have mercy on us and change our system for the better, we are either dishonest or simply foolish, because the Divine Justice that rests in the Creator’s Perfect Work do not and will not for all eternity, “allow a bad leader to rule over a good people”, and vice versa.
.Therefore, the recurrence of Obasanjo, Buhari, Okowa or Shettima, or even Ahmad or Akpabio as the case may be, our the political space, clearly aggregates our prevailing dark or light volition, as it were, and in our present case, the dark volition; which had made it impossible so far for ‘a messiah’ to rise amongst us.
Until we get our Moses, we must improve on all things, give and only seek the best, ever always through honest volition, since in this matter, there is no shorter cut to choosing our collective destiny. We cannot choose a Barnabars and expect that our treasury is secured!
This ugly development has also removed the veil from much that has been hidden in our financial system, the sad reality that there exists a very thin line between operators of our economy and politics; and that there’s actually no justification to exonerate drivers of the economy from our political players; in that there is an umbilical connection between both.
This is to the extent that if the economy or politics is bad, the two are responsible; and if there is improvement, the two also made it possible. Thus there is no such thing as bad economy with good politics or good politics with bad economy.
They are irrevocably linked. But only in Nigeria, since above hypothesis hardly has known universal precept; at least speaking of the present time. This is the only reason the CBN would release N500million newly designed notes into circulation in the drive of its current cash swap and the money vanished from the bank vaults without getting to the banking halls.
On the flip side, the cashless society and or cashless economy that government have ‘struggled’ to enthrone without much headway, has been achieved by default, by more than 60percent; as it were.
The politicians mopped up the money with the connivance of the banks owners and their respective leaderships, leaving ordinary citizens stranded. This assertion by the CBN nonetheless, does not also absolve it of complicity; after all it is just the bankers’ bank; blighted with same ill.
Nigerians should therefore be circumspect and vigilant, and not hurry to canonize one side, while also seeking to demonize the other side. If the political class should be held responsible for our present plight, it would be unjust to exonerate the economic drivers, and in this case, operators of the banking system.
It is not for nothing that you find the chairmen of the banks, managing directors and leading shareholders and investors often rocking it off with big political players at social events.
While the banks is also known to be creating the enabling atmosphere for politicians and public office holders to loot the public treasury and to stash the monies in secret hideouts, home and overseas; the banks also provide the pathway to the permanent escape of some of these looted funds.
By far the most pervasive in obstructing the development of Nigeria is stolen public monies, and the administrative, financial and legal instruments for aiding the disappearance of funds from our commonwealth.
The other abettors are the judiciary, security and media; which unfortunately begins from where the bankers stop. These bankers are almost always treated as VIPs, with unrestricted privileges, and in some ways even pampered and shielded from questioning. As such, most carry on as though they are above the law.
And to a certain degree, they are, take the case of the controversial N500miillion CBN claimed it released to the banks, but which were not available for Nigerians. No bank chairman or helmsman would be called to render account, as should have been the case in sane climes.
These bankers are not only active during electioneering periods in the mobilization and supply of questionable funds; they provide all the needed logistics and support to circumvent the system during the recouping process after the elections.
They not only entice politicians with easy, un-collateralized access to huge loans, they engage in the frivolous and carefree donation of customers and investments funds to politicians; with the hope of attracting patronage, after such politicians gets into office.
Like every speculative endeavour, it is to be expected that with every loser, the donations are also almost lost; and which invariably are lumped under operational losses subheads.
The donation of N2billion to the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2014 by a former Chairman of Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni, remains a classical example. A quick check on the donor lists for 2014 will surprise you.
The banks are not alone, state governments are also in the business of campaign donations; for obvious reasons. There is a particular new generation bank known for its cutting edge technological innovation and massive operational balance sheet that has for a long time engaged in the sponsorship of politicians to top elective offices.
Some have become governors and some lawmakers; it is on record that few have also landed juicy appointments in state corporations as compensation by politicians, for helping to launder money for them.
This explains the ease with which politicians were able to mop up the newly redesigned cash released by the CBN. It is no rocket science, the big politician merely call the chairman or head of any bank and demand the immediate supply of whatever was available.
A bargain is struck and the risk control system immediately falls asleep, until the transactions are concluded. The civic obligations to keep the banks liquid and open for financial services simply develops far reaching challenges, and the social and domestic financial lives of citizens are peremptorily locked up.
Then silly excuses and insincere apologies, sometimes with threats of severe punishment follows rising protests that do not last or gets properly coordinated to create impact.
But at the moment political mercenaries are hired to infiltrate any such protests, the whole saga burns up leaving white ash of high level permissiveness and the turgid erection of idiotic existentialism.