Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun

Accredited Mediator | Certified Professional Manager and Trainer in Workplace Conflicts


An Open Letter: Urgent Calls to Address the Economic Challenges Facing Nigerians

Calvary Greetings to President Muhammad Buhari and the man of the moment, Currency Governor General (CGG) Godwin Emefiele,

As a person, I want to emphasize that leadership is not a tea party. I also know that the administration of a country like Nigeria is a tough call. So, let me appreciate President Muhammad Buhari’s efforts to complete the second Niger Bridge, the ongoing railway transport revolution, and the Federal Government’s eat what you grow policy.

I would, however, have appreciated the President more if the East-West roads and the interstate roads between Edo and Delta were solidly fixed before now; if the Naira was left at ₦183.5912/dollar, which he met, every Nigerian entering the gas station to buy fuel without queue and pains across the nation; and they having access to their money forcefully taken from them into banks by the Naira redesignation policy.

Let me also state clearly, that since the inception of this democracy in 1999, no matter the flaws of the 2023 presidential election, opposition parties won in unlikely places outside their comfort zones.

For me, it is a new beginning for our politics. Nobody would have imagined that APC could lose elections in Lagos and Katsina, the President-elect and the Commander-In-Chief home state respectively, to opposition parties. These are bitter pills that PMB has swallowed. Besides, many sitting Governors lost their senatorial bids. This would have been unheard of in 2019.

Before going into my main subject for this post, I wish to note that either by acts of omission or commission, this administration took some unintended anti-masses actions that the masses may negatively remember this administration for a long time to come.

I want to also reinforce what Mr. President and CGG already know: that our people now suffer from increasing hunger and accentuated poverty. So many of our country’s people went to bed hungry yesterday night and are unsure of any breakfast today because they cannot draw from the little money the redesignation policy forced them to deposit with the banks. These unintended consequences of the redesignated policy were avoidable.

Besides, both of you might now have realized that the elites for which you emplaced this policy now use dollars. Also, the political elites for which the policy frameworks are trageted are insulated from the pains of the cash squeeze because they only give orders to their bank managers and gbam! The cash they need lands in their homes in sacks.

Furthermore, the thirty thousand Naira minimum wagers can no longer get home with their take-home pay because POS operators fleece them due to the barter system in place. Hundreds of thousands of public servants who are yet to be paid January and February salaries in whole or in part are being harassed by service providers because of the I-owe-you for supplies.

These Public Servants deserve better treatment. They are those that help in carrying out your directives and policy implementation. If this policy leaves this sad taste in their mouths until the end of your tenure in May 2023, it may be the only legacy they will remember Mr. President for.

There is still time to make the people happy by urgently ensuring that by this week, the Federal Government should urgently:

1. Obey the Supreme Court judgment on the Naira redesignation. Though CGG Emefiele said the CBN had burnt the N500 and N1,000 notes, what of all the N200 notes, were they also burnt.? The masses don’t need much. Save them from POS shylocks by allowing them access to the single-digit thousands they need to survive.

2. Make money available through electronic channels and cash points.

3. Network with the communication carriers and banks to up their games if the policy would make meaning. Mr. President may not be aware that banks are indirectly closed to Nigerians 50% of the time. The banks also resume late and close early, and 80% of the time, the electronic channels and cash point centers are not working or are suboptimal in operations because of the paucity of cash or lack of internet connectivity. This is killing the economy under his watch.

4. Return the Naira to the Dollar at the January 2015 rate, which was ₦183.5912/dollar.

5. Ensure that every Nigerian entering the gas station can freely buy fuel without nationwide queues.

6. Direct INEC to compulsorily use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation Systems (BVAS) Machines to accredit voters for the Governorship elections. Where they did not work, it should not resort to anything manual. Reschedule the election so that Nigeria can concentrate on a few areas the following day. Many contestants are waiting to sabotage the INEC server, but the INEC Chairman must give March 11, 2023, his best shot. I wish him good luck with the task.

Furthermore, once the votes have been counted, and recorded, all the necessary forms signed by the party agents and copies handed over to the security agencies, let the INEC staff saddled with the responsibility of uploading the results do so on a real-time basis. Let the central server be the center point of collation at the national level. Since the party agents and the Returning officers already have the certified copies, what was uploaded and the documents at each state level will be the same.

Lest I forget, If Mr. President could do the above for Nigerians, I will forever remain grateful for his service. But for now, it would seem that no matter where he signed off, deleting the sufferings of queuing in gas stations for fuel and in banks for cash, which climaxed his eight years in office from the hearts, minds, and psyche of Nigerians shall be difficult. Good luck with the next few months ending on May 29, 2023.

Grace and peace!!!