The currency redesign and the cash crisis it has engendered have exposed the treacherous nature of Nigeria’s ruling party(APC) and ruling elites. They have sought power and wealth as ends in themselves and not as means to better the society and lots of ordinary Nigerians. Their rallying points are the Nigerian governors who congregate under the amorphous and illegal body called the Nigeria governors forum (NGF). The NGF group is illegal and unconstitutional because they have no such right or mandate; nor is the forum a creation of any law.
Some of the governors led by Nasir El Rufai have gone to the Supreme Court to stop the currency swap, a policy of the same ruling party. Talk of a house divided against itself.
In the last eight years, calamity after calamity has visited the nation and the governors never thought it necessary to visit the President or approached the Supreme Court for intervention. Insecurity has since spiraled out of control and engulfed the nation with devastating consequences. Thousands of Nigerians have died and millions displaced. As pathetic and tragic is the fact that scores of schoolchildren abducted for months and years from various schools in the north are still in forests with the terrorists who violate and dehumanize them daily.
Leah Sharibu is still with the terrorists for over 5 years and is said to have a child or two forcefully sired by these monsters. Boko Haram terrorism is on the rebound with the nation’s military having a rough time and scores of them avoidably perishing too. Those alive are trudging on, poorly motivated and under-equipped as we hear. Bandits have grown into full-blown terrorist organizations under the APC’s watch. And Boko Haram terrorists have swelled their ranks by joining up with Al-Qaida and ISIS. They have all scaled up their terror activities to the point that no part of Nigeria is now safe; to say nothing about the killer herdsmen now having a field day.
The litany of woes besieging the country is long. Yet, the Nigerian governors never thought it necessary to visit Mr. President. They just visited the President to demand that the new and old naira notes be allowed to coexist for at least six months and when the President wasn’t forthcoming, El Rufai and two others went to the Supreme Court.
They make this request after creating the currency crisis by hijacking the currencies released to the banks by the CBN. That was how the banks’ vaults were emptied in a matter of days. New notes still hidden in banks are reserved for the same politicians, especially governors by these soulless bankers. We also hear that the bankers sell the new naira notes to the politicians for as high as 30%. To these bankers, therefore, the Nigerian masses may as well go to hell or worse still, perish. Thus a banker who sells N1oo m to a politician makes as much as N30m.
The corruption cesspool in Nigeria has always been the Nigerian banks. The bank managers, managing directors, and boards collude with the politicians, especially the governors, to deal with the monetary system as they would please. The bankers are the same actors who deliver billions in naira to the politicians at home, which led to over 70% of the nation’s banknotes being in private hands. Bullion vans were seen taking money to Bourdillon, a private house of the APC presidential candidate belonged to a bank.
That is precisely why the governors are on the neck of the President. They want the President to allow them to hold on to the illicit cash they accumulated and cannot return to the banks as demanded. More importantly, the governors and the rest of the politicians want to hold onto such illicit money for vote trading in the general election that is coming up in about two weeks.
These governors helped to orchestrate the currency crises and are now using it as a blackmail tool to force the hand of the President. If Buhari falls for this cheap blackmail, then the reason for currency redesign would have been defeated and would negatively affect the 2023 election as always.
The fact is that 110 days is more than enough for anybody to return legitimately earned physical cash to the banks. The extension being sought by the governors through the Supreme Court is therefore not for shortness of time but easy access and deployment of huge sums of the old currency stashed away over time for this election for vote buying and inducements.
Emefiele is a principal player in President Muhammadu Buhari’s avowal to bequeath Nigerians a free and fair election is one as a way of redeeming his years of the locust. To leave no one in doubt, the President has repeatedly made it clear that the politicians will not be allowed to intimidate the voters or allowed to use the money to buy their votes in February 2023. Emefiele has by default given effect to the President’s free and fair election declaration via the naira design.
This will directly affect ‘bullion van politicians’, who withdraw billions in naira to finance elections, particularly on Election Day. But the banks are bent on truncating the policy in collaboration with the same politicians that the President plans to checkmate. With the support of Mr. President, Emefiele has been able to resist the pressure to drop the naira recoloration and pegging of cash withdrawals. These are politicians who cannot win a free and fair election and would resort to voting trade to secure victory at the polls and capture the state power.
Nigeria is a country run on elite conspiracy; a clique of Nigerians, particularly governors who do everything legal and extralegal to capture state power. One of the things they do is the removal of difficult officials on trumped charges whose innocence or otherwise may never be established. The aim is to force the appointee out of the office and have a more pliable official in place. These were the people that pushed the DSS to seek a court order to remove the CBN governor last December.
It is also necessary to draw attention to the role of the CBN in the Nigerian Presidential Election. Not many know that the CBN houses most of the sensitive election materials including Result Sheets, Form EC 8 A&B, and many more. Unless the safety of these materials is guaranteed no one can guarantee the integrity of the 2023 general election, explaining why the cliques want the control of the CBN at all costs.
Again, the 2023 general election must not fail. If the polity is convulsed and ruptured, the election will be truncated. Many may not know, but under certain circumstances such as a state of emergency, President Muhammadu Buhari can stay beyond May 29, 2023. Those who genuinely seek a new order through a free, fair, and untainted election should prevail over those pulling the dangerous strings to allow this all-important election. The cataclysmic consequences can turn Nigeria into a dystopia (a society where life will be nasty, brutish, and short) overnight and uproot our hard-earned democracy.
The future is ours too to make or unmake. Nigerians are being pushed to the wall in this induced currency crisis so that they will convulse and truncate the polity. Emefiele must stay the course. The President must not yield to these rapacious governors and politicians. If they have their way, they will subvert the choice of Nigerians by deploying cash-to-vote trading as they have always done. If the Nigerian masses resist the pressure to react and truncate the election, their will shall prevail in the end and they will laugh last.
The choice is theirs. Posterity beckons!
· Dr Law Mefor, a forensic/social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought.