Bankers, politicians and scarcity of new naira notes

Blueprint Whatsapp

Nigerian bankers are as greedy and selfish as the politicians they are fronting for. The decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign the naira in a desperate bid to mop up looted funds stashed away in private homes has brought out the evil in Nigerian bankers and politicians.

The two groups are in a grand conspiracy to torment the poor and blame the CBN for the anomie. Everyone knows that bankers make money by selling crispy naira notes. They have done that for decades with impunity.

In the last 10 years I cannot remember the last time I collected crispy new notes from an ATM. Yet we all know that the CBN prints bank notes regularly.

The crispy new notes are only hawked at parties. The rich buy them to spray celebrants. Many earn a living by buying crispy new notes from bankers and selling them to willing buyers at parties.

This time the bankers took their greedy business a few rungs above what society is familiar with. The new naira notes are sold to politicians and rich bandits at a huge margin. They paid N50, 000 for every N1.5 million delivered by bankers.

That created an acute shortage of the new notes.  The bankers hoarded the new currencies supplied by CBN and sold them to politicians and bandits.  The politicians would in turn use them to buy votes during elections.

Ironically, the politicians are blaming the consequent cash scarcity on CBN’s pre-emptive strike against vote buying during elections.

They blame the torment visited on ordinary Nigerians on CBN when in reality the poor are paying the price of the grand conspiracy between evil bankers and greedy politicians.

Bankers blame the current crisis on CBN currency supply deficit. Unfortunately, bandits and politicians have so much of the new notes to flaunt.

Politicians are unanimously calling on CBN to extend the deadline for withdrawing the old notes to July 31, 2023. They want to use the old notes to buy votes. Besides, they need enough time to trade the remaining old notes for new ones.

None of the politicians is worried about the plight of the poor. Nigerian lawmakers are the country’s greatest problem. Their illegally padded pay has worsened Nigeria’s debt crisis.

If the National Assembly was worried about the suffering of ordinary Nigerians, it will trim its budget accordingly. The reverse is the case now.

The 2023 Appropriation Bill sent to the National Assembly allocated N169 billion as total expenditure of the legislative arm of government. The National Assembly sent back the bill with its allocation surreptitiously raised to N223 billion.

As it stands, National Assembly allocation for the 2023 budget is almost twice what would be spent on the health of 216 million Nigerians during the year.

The 469 members of the National Assembly and a support staff of about 3,000 will spend the princely sum of N223 billion while a paltry N134 billion is allocated to the health ministry for healthcare delivery to 216 million Nigerians. That is how selfish and greedy the lawmakers are.

The ranting about the suffering of the people because of naira redesign has nothing to do with sympathy for Nigeria’s inconsequential majority. It is designed to divert attention from the real cause of the sufferings (bankers and politicians) to the CBN which is carrying out its statutory monetary policy functions.

The politicians and bankers have taken a pound of flesh from CBN’s laudable decision to redesign the naira. Bankers hoarded the new notes, sold them to politicians and bandits and caused incredible scarcity despite the huge sums supplied by CBN.

Politicians stocked enough of the new notes at home for use in buying votes during the forthcoming elections.

That selfish move depleted the stock of new notes supplied by CBN and left the inconsequential majority queuing for hours in search of the new notes.

That is just the reason for the disruption in businesses and the long queues at ATM terminals across the country. Point of sales (PoS) terminal operators picked up the signals from the banks and hiked the cost of their services to N1,000 per N10, 000 rather than the usual N200.

They too bribe bankers to get cash. Bankers and politicians are the ones tormenting the people. The CBN did its statutory duty of redesigning the naira to mop up excess funds from private homes.

The cash is stashed away in private homes because it was looted from public treasuries and the looters would easily be traced if the money is deposited in banks.

The second reason is that the cash at home is easily used for bribes and vote buying.

Ironically, since Nigeria has 85 per cent of the cash in circulation in private homes, CBN cannot control inflation with monetary policy instruments because the fund it is targeting is outside its control.

Perhaps the gravest consequence of stashing away cash at homes is that it dries up funds for lending to the private sector to establish ventures that would create jobs and combat poverty.

Nigeria with its enormous wealth is the world’s headquarters of poverty because the cash hoarded at homes by treasury looters cannot be loaned to investors to create jobs.  

CBN must persistently combat the catastrophic hoarding of cash in private homes. It must compel bankers to obey the law on the limit on daily cash withdrawals.

Most of the N2.8 trillion in private homes was illicitly released to treasury looters by devilish and lawless bankers. CBN must flag the accounts of certain individuals with record for excessive withdrawal of funds and ensure that it is alerted each time there is withdrawal in such accounts.

That is the only way to halt the catastrophic treasury looting and the stashing of needed funds at home. If those measures are not taken, within three months the new naira notes would flood treasury looters’ homes. 

Related content you may like