The Central Bank of Nigeria recently released two crucial monetary policies. The bank’s policy of redesigning the Naira was the first. If the redesign of the Naira was anticipated, the political elite was apparently unnerved by the second policy, which limited cash withdrawal for individuals to N100,000 and corporations to N500,000 per week.
Given that it is election season, it is possible for some to claim that the policy was intended to target politicians, especially those who were considering buying votes. Vote buying has been criticized and strongly condemned as a technique that can undermine democracy since it deprives people of their conscience and raises the cost of elections.
Some even went so far as to advance the viewpoint that the CBN’s new policy was designed by the CBN governor due to his failed presidential ambition. The CBN was interested in the contest for presidential election under the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Notwithstanding, I believe Emefiele’s dabbling into partisan politics while sitting as CBN governor was ill-advised if at all that ambition was nursed. I said so then, and remain convinced that such contemplation was wrong. The CBN governor must be insulated from partisan politics if he must discharge his responsibilities in a responsible manner without political coloration. It is in the same manner that I abhor political interference in monetary policy issues.
The muted idea by the House of Representatives to amend the CBN Act so as to diminish the apex bank’s power to make monetary regulations is wrong and should be resisted. It is enough that these politicians have mismanaged and ruined our economic and fiscal policies, they should steer clear of monetary policy issues, by allowing experts to do their job without undue interference.
Nigerians are used to government reeling out policies that were never implemented or implemented in breach. The business and political class finds ways to circumvent rules, hence Nigeria is collapsing on all fronts. Rather than move forward, we retrogress and keep retrogressing backwards.
Finding an institution with the courage to implement policies and regulations is like search for needle in a haystack. When you fight corruption, corruption fights back and they call it the ‘Nigerian factor’. What’s Nigerian factor – Nigerian factor is where rules are observed in breach by the so-called super VIPs of waste. They cage the leadership and mortgage the country and its future.
The recent introduction of the reversed CBN policy on limits of cash withdrawals have received mixed reactions. Surprisingly, the critics are the politicians who now pretend to speak for the poor masses.
Without hesitation , let me say that no Nigerian that is poor need more than N20,000 Naira cash to survive in a day. They don’t also need N100,000 cash in a week because they don’t have such money available to them. It is actually the novae rich who warehouse money in safe homes that need such money because they want to operate outside the banking system and without the scrutiny of NFIU, ICPC and EFCC.
Since the introduction of the new policy which was designed to curb inflation, organized crimes and other financial crimes, some lawmakers have described the policy as draconian and insensitive. One lawmaker actually called for the arrest of the CBN governor, all in an effort to intimidate the CBN governor to abandon the policy.
The National Assembly no doubt is vested with the power to make laws for the good and orderliness of the country. They also have oversight functions over the executive arms including the CBN. They have right to ask questions and seek better clarifications on sundry issues including monetary policies, but they have no right to interfere with the core mandate of the CBN on issues of monetary policy, especially where the apex bank must be seen to be acting independent from partisan politics. I don’t think any right-thinking Nigerian is interested in politicians running the Central Bank or the Central Bank dancing to the tune of any political party. The Central Bank, both now and in future, is expected to be insulated from partisan politics.
The CBN’s cashless policy is not a sudden policy, the all inclusion financial strategy dates back before Emefiele and was first introduced in Lagos and Abuja as a pilot scheme some 10 years ago. The policy was championed vigorously by past CBN governors before the current regime that now wants to enforce full financial inclusion.
Those afraid of the policy have their reasons and we the people know their reasons. We know they want to continue to loot public funds for their private use. The worst is that they didn’t invest the money in any meaningful economic venture and they didn’t give to charity either. They just let the money waste, rotten and decay.
While we find excuses why we cannot implement cashless economic policy, kidnapping and insecurity thrived. Every policy comes with its own drawbacks and likewise this. The truth is that we should not just look at the short-term discomforts. It is given that there will be pains but we must also look at the long-term benefits.
Will the policy curb corruption in the public and private sector whereby public officers withdraw large sums of money and warehouse them? Will the policy affect the booming business of kidnapping for ransom and organ harvesting?
Will it curb inflation? Will it help the government monitor the financial reporting and activities of banks and their customers so as to checkmate organized crimes? Will it save the naira from its free fall against the dollar in the black market?
Indications from the Central Bank showed that since the policy to redesign the Naira was announced, the commercial banks and CBN have received deposits of over one trillion naira which were hitherto outside the banking system. The naira was able to bounce back from N850 per $1 to now N720. With more efforts and determination, I believe the naira may eventually stabilize at N500. If this can be achieved, then there will be hope of curbing inflation and high cost of living.
What the CBN must do is to mass produce POS so that every farmer and trader who needs POS should have access to it for their daily transactions. The CBN must be strict in monitoring the implementations of the new policies. Whatever they may want to ‘tweak’ in the new policy must be in the general interest of the nation and not to satisfy the political class and their business fronts.
I listened to the CBN Deputy Governor speak to the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions, and at the end they had better understanding of the policy. Consequently, the Central Bank must continue with massive sensitization of the populace on the new policy. If the people have better understanding of the policy, they will key in and support the new policy. The people must be made to understand that they have various options available to them to perform financial transactions including Mobile Money. USSD, Internet Banking , Mobile Transfer, E-Naira etc.
On a final note, I will encourage us to endure the pains of today for a better future. Nothing good comes easy. The hard decision taken by the CBN should be supported. If in future, it didn’t work well as expected, the bank should be responsive to favourably make some changes.