Protests erupted in some parts of Warri, Benin, and Ibadan earlier today. Some have proved fatal with the killing of some Nigerians. These worst alternatives, as against the original policy intents, should have been avoidable.
The government should have known that when people’s wants and basic needs are repressed, there would be consequences.
I empathize with Nigerians going through hardships because of the petroleum products and currency scarcity, shareholders of the banks razed, and the families of protesters injured or killed today due to the protests going on around the country because of the cash crunch challenges.
Nigerians have the right to peaceful assemblies and protests but not to commit arson or looting. Nonviolent revolutions using demonstrations to achieve democratic outcomes are possible. Such nonviolent revolutions would reverse the trends of autocracy and misgovernance. A listening government would use the lessons learned to emplace people-oriented governance structures.
The underlying social context that led to the current unrest is hunger stoked by the scarcity of Naira notes, extortion, and profiteering by some bank officials and POS operators. We know that policies should thoroughly evaluate post-policy implementation outcomes before rolling out the plan.
The Naira redesignation policy is, on its own, a googood policy. But good policies wrongly implemented usually attract bad outcomes. Apart from the elites, I would appreciate it if we could interrogate those affected by this Naira redesignation policy for a minute.
What happens to the daily ‘osusu’ collector who collected money from contributors, deposited the contributions with the banks, and must disburse money to their owners by this week’s end?
What happens to the ‘bole’ or ‘akara’ seller who eats from the daily sales yet cannot buy the raw plantain and beans to bake or fry, talkless of having anything to sell because customers need to have old or new naira notes to spend?
What happens to the students trapped in various university campuses because they do not have access to ATMs or banking halls to withdraw the money sent to them for transportation by their parents or guardian?
No challenge has a single-window option. So, one of the options is to make the new notes sufficiently available. We can prevent multiple withdrawals by individuals. The systems could be automatedly linked to individual BVN. One of the reasons we need the BVN is times like this. Lastly, if barring politicians from buying votes or bringing in their money to the bank is the major focus, the new notes can still run side by side the old notes with capped restriction to large withdrawals. But let us the common man have that N2,000, N5,000, N10,000, etc, which they need to keep body and soul together.
I use this medium to appeal to the youth and the aggrieved to exercise discretion and care in all demonstrations. Razing the banks and harassing bank workers would make matters worse for every stakeholder. The banks belong not to the government but to Nigerians, which cut across all social strata.
Grace and peace!!!