The past few weeks have been nothing short of hell on earth for most Nigerians. They have been going through one form of frustration or another. If it is not the evident fuel scarcity and its heightening cost, it is the scarcity of the redesigned notes coupled with the unrealistic deadlines set for currency swap. The new notes are notoriously hard to access. These are some of the major things that Nigerians are going through, from insecurity to inflation. The current fuel scarcity is a huge pain in the neck for many Nigerians. Most of the country heavily depends on fuel for their livelihoods and businesses. This is due to the deficient power supply that across the country. But with the recent scarcity of fuel that has gone on longer than it should, it is obvious that Nigerians are going to experience nightmares for some time.
The lack of money and fuel has caused a huge inflation in the price of transportation, food and other basic supplies that are important to Nigerians. Many Nigerians line up for hours at the few fuel stations that are selling fuel, while Nigerians are battling with skyrocketing prices on the daily. Fuel like diesel, petrol, kerosene are now very pricey due to their scarcity and unavailability. Petrol has now become as scarce as a limited edition product getting sold out at its first launch. It is like when a store is out of stock on a popular product, just that this time, Nigeria is out of stock on fuel. Long queues, angry tempers and fights mark this hunt for fuel at the stations. Many are frustrated with this country. This has also caused road blocks. Many fuel selling stations are based in commercial areas, and due to the long queues, there is no parking spot left, causing many to park and queue on the roadside, thereby hindering motorists from moving freely on the road.
The new policy of the naira redesign by the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, has caused a lot of anguish for many Nigerians as they struggle to meet up with the deadlines set for the acquisition of the new currency that is not circulating around. Both the new and former deadlines are not helping matters at all, as many Nigerians have not been able to get the new currency. Even with the old deadline, many banks complained about not having the new currency available to them and then the CBN said that the banks should come and get the new currency off their hands. It was a sad tale of two to tango as the parties were blaming each other, and it became hard to know who was telling the truth. Asides that, the CBN and the Federal Government refused to move an inch or be shaken by citizens’ suffering. They stuck with their former Jan 31 deadline and did not change it until the elventh hour when they informed Nigerians of the deadline extension to February 10, a deadline just as tricky as the former.
The government caused countless citizens who were in a hurry to deposit their old money and acquire new ones panic and frustration. Many spent long hours under the sun just to withdraw the new currency from the ATM machines, only to be met with disappointment. It was either that the machines did not dispense the new notes or the notes had already finished by the time it got to their turn to withdraw money. It is without doubt that even with the new two-week deadline, it is impossible for the new redesigned notes to circulate around the country. Many are no longer accepting the old notes and some are hoarding the new cash they have so as to prevent them collecting the old ones ever again. No one wants to go through the hassle of going to the bank to deposit old cash whilst standing in a queue for hours.
This redesign policy is also causing stress to the elderly. Quite a large number of the population are senior citizens, and they are also struggling to get the new notes, having to stand in queues for hours just to get their own hard-earned money. This is absolute horror as traders and other business merchants are refusing to accept the old currency as they prefer people making electronic transfers to them. Nigeria is a country where there are network issues and terrible customer service in banks, where you can have a problem with your money transfer or, worst case scenario, where your money gets stuck. This is an horrendous experience that I don’t wish on anyone. In most cases, you end up not getting your money back or have to go back and forth with the bank and it’s customer service until it attends to your case. This is not to talk of the countless times they say your money will be reversed but actually it is never is done, and that can go for weeks, sometimes months. It is quite heartbreaking to see Nigerians go through this frustrating turn of events a few weeks to the 2023 general election. But at the same time, it is a clear sign for Nigerians to “shine their eyes”on who they decide to cast their vote for, if they want to see a better country. It is quite appalling to see Nigerians go through unwarranted suffering. Nigeria is a country that is suffering-personified; there is always one issue or the other that adds to the pain of Nigerians. It is mandatory for the next government that is elected to alleviate the pains that Nigerians are going through, especially with fuel scarcity, before it turns into continual chaos.
- Afolabi is a student of the Federal University of Oye Ekiti (FUOYE).
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