SPEAKING at the end of a two-day Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, March 22, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, apologised to Nigerians for the rise in failed electronic banking transactions. He said: “I must apologise. Yes, online channels fail. But no doubt it is as a result of the deluge of online transactions that hit the banking industry. But it is being resolved.” In the same vein, Emefiele announced the authorisation of the release of old naira notes into the vaults of Deposit Money Banks and harped on the need for the banks to work even on weekends in order to allow Nigerians access to cash from their deposits. This apparently is his way of offering an apology for the damage and agony that Nigerians have been subjected to under the naira redesign exercise and the cashless policy of the government for months now.
The troubling issue, however, is that the CBN Governor has not shown an awareness of the depth of the misery in which Nigerians are still mired given the bad run of events they have been subjected to for months. What is going on in the country is not just a case of failed electronic transactions; it is about a failed government and a failed policy. It is about Nigerians suffering untold hardship over access to their own hard-earned money. Surely, the apex bank boss knows that already, many have died while many businesses have been ruined, many of them irreparably. His apology is, to put it mildly, meaningless in the face of the ongoing hardship experienced by Nigerians and which he has done very little to reduce. The CBN Governor has inflicted mental torture on Nigerians young and old and rich and poor. He should come down from his high horse of arrogance and acknowledge the wanton damage he has done, and then tender an unqualified, heart-felt apology to the citizens he has dehumanised with impunity.
Beyond the general dislocations in most homes, Emefiele’s actions have weakened family ties at all levels, aggravated the level of poverty in the country and debased the people. Fundamental rights have been grossly undermined and abused. His actions have made most Nigerians vulnerable to different forms of human degradation, with many losing their pride as citizens of the country. As a matter of fact, class action suits designed to enforce the fundamental rights undermined through the implementation of the currency redesign policy would be quite in order. The CBN Governor has to admit to having caused havoc on the citizenry and the economy in unimaginable proportions. It is instructive that he has not done that.
To say the least, Nigerians are still feeling the harrowing and deleterious effects of the actions of the government and the CBN in denying them access to cash to meet urgent and crucial needs. We find it difficult to understand the need for all the rigmarole in currency redesign and the pursuit of cashless operations with grievous pains unleashed on Nigerians. It boggles the mind to see Nigerians scrounging for their own money locked in banks. If indeed it was possible to release cash into the vaults of banks to meet the yearnings of Nigerians, why would it take months for the CBN Governor to do this while watching Nigerians suffering and dying in droves all along? Was there any satisfaction and enjoyment derived from the privations of the people?
We do not know of any other clime where government and its officials would deliberately seek to subject people to avoidable misery as we have witnessed in Nigeria in the past few months. The needless harm done to the psyche of the people and the country’s standing in the comity of nations has been so monumental as to defy any rational explanation. The question is whether the CBN Governor would feel satisfied and be able to sleep well now knowing that he has done the most he could to inflict maximum harm and damage on Nigerians, for which there is really no need for an apology.
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