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HomeExecutive BriefNigerian youth and the Impact of currency reform and naira scarcity

Nigerian youth and the Impact of currency reform and naira scarcity

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By Toyosi Afolorunsho

Over the past few months, the redesign of the naira note has greatly impacted many people and businesses across the country. Some Nigerians, out of frustration had resulted into vandalizing banks and properties to express their anger, while some youths have organized various protests in order to pressure the government to provide a solution to the naira scarcity.

Right from the day the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the introduction of the currency reform, which culminated in the redesigning of the naira notes; many people have expressed skepticism on the need and objective of the reform.

Though many were eagerly waiting for the circulation of the new banknotes, a good number of people did not envisage the eventual implication of the currency reform on their lives and business.

In anticipation of receiving the new naira notes, many people had also resorted to camping in and around the premises of some banks and Automated Teller Machines (ATM) overnight with the hope of getting access to the mint banknotes and shortening the waiting time.

The lack of access to the new naira notes has made many people go hungry, forced students to skip lectures, and made the working class absent from work or report to work late.

Others have emphasized the lack of alternative payment choices. People are having difficulty buying necessities since there are no stable internet connections, and local merchants, such as bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and mini-store employees, do not accept online payments.

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Some youth interviewed by Global Financial Digest described the country’s conditions as intolerable and inadmissible. They, also stated that Nigerians were experiencing two types of hardship at the same time: scarcity of fuel and the introduction of new naira notes, which has led to scarcity and both of which had a negative impact on the country’s socioeconomic operations.

A Nigerian youth corps member, Ogundele Ayodele recalls the appalling experiences she endured as a result of the naira scarcity. According to her, “I suffered greatly. When I look back, I just feel annoyed and angry because I have never encountered this in Nigeria since I was born. There are so many frustrating and bad things about this cash shortage and the naira reform policy.

“There was a day I was stranded on my way to work, so I boarded a bus. When it was time to pay, the bus driver said he would not accept the old note and would rather prefer to receive new banknote because, at the end of the day, his boss would not collect it, and this was before the deadline.

“On one occasion, I was working when I suddenly felt hungry. I have been working nonstop for a long time, so I went to the superstore in my company and took what I needed. I then intended to make my payment. The cashier refused to collect the old notes from me, which she had collected the previous day.

“I returned to the office to get my card; the POS network was acting up, as was the transfer, which I tried to do but failed; I was starving, angry, and overwhelmed with work; it was a torment.

She also said the new naira introduction was unnecessary, had a bad effect on the economy and the general public; in addition to being a waste of time and resources. Meanwhile, there are more challenges that the government should have addressed, such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of basic infrastructure.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) claimed that the currency reform would help to curb inflation while blaming banks for the shortage of the new note. However, it was observed that the policy may have been targeted at politicians who have a penchant for voting buying at elections.

In order to further inform and empower our people about the new naira and cashless policy for better understanding and widespread adoption, the CBN, along with their relevant organs in both the public and private sectors, should launch a significant public awareness and sensitization campaign.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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