Central Bank Of Nigeria, CBN, Is Stifling The Economy And Pushing Millions Of People Into Further Hardship And Poverty
Shehu Yusuf Kura
As millions of Nigerians rejoice the Christmas like many other Christian faithful’s all over the world, many will celebrate it in severe hardship and unnecessary financial squeeze. This is because of a policy introduced by the central bank of Nigeria about foreign money transfer. The Governor of the central bank announced that hence fourth, recipients of money transfers from abroad must collect their monies in foreign currencies. So, if someone send you money from United States, you must collect the money in dollars. There is no rational for Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the governor to introduced this new draconian and financially ruinous policy but to please his masters, IMF, World bank, and the major economies of the world. This policy will further push many families into further poverty, adversity, and hunger, at the same time, creating avenue for fraud and economic sabotage by the banks.
As we all know, Nigerians are groaning in hardship when dealing with banks. A simple matter that will take you few minutes to resolve at your branch, could take you several hours, if not days. Having problem with your bank account in Nigeria is like falling into the hands of the Police, even if you are not a guilty person. Only God can save you. It is the same thing with the banks. They are corrupt, and their costumer and public relations record is horrible to say the least.
Until this new draconian and unlawful policy by the central bank, you can wire money to any verified account of your relatives and because of the advancement of technology, they could get it instantaneously. And you can send whatever you could. From five dollars to five thousand dollars, with a limit of 10 thousand dollars per transaction. The money goes into the account of the recipient in Nigerian currency, the naira. The account you are sending the money to MUST be verified to belong to the owner, and it has fulfilled all other guidelines, including BVN and others. It was simple, descript and you can send as little as you like.
Then came the new policy. That all recipients must collect their monies in foreign currencies. So now, when a relative sends you money from the U.S. let us say $20 (twenty Dollars) which is equivalent to at least N7,760 (seven thousand, seven hundred and sixty naira), which by the way is a lot of money to many families, especially students and others. Now to collect the $20, you must go to the main branch of one of the major banks in the city. That may mean traveling hundreds of miles at this extraordinary time of insecurity. Fill a form, present unprecedented and intrusive documentation, like national I.D. cards or any other photo I.D. and then wait in line with many other people, who are not customers of the bank, but are forced to deal with the bank anyway. In some cases, the bank will insist that you must operate account with them before you will get the $20 dollars. After completing the receivers form, in most cases, the bank will come out and tell you they have no network, so you must wait. Then the agonizing waiting begins. Just to collect the $20 your uncle sends you, because you want to pay for a hand-out in school. Do not forget that you are now in the bank for more that 4 hours. It is almost 1500hrs now, and an official of the bank emerged to inform you that they are sorry, there is still no network, so you all must come back tomorrow. This is just so that you could collect your legitimate $20. Now you must get back to school, angry, weary, unfulfilled, and hopeless. But you need that seven thousand naira, so early in the morning the following day, you gather your bruised ego as a student and head back to the bank. You arrived exceedingly early, in the hope that you will finish and go back to school not to miss another day’s lectures as you did the previous day. But you are out of luck. This day, the woman who handles western union transfers is not coming to work, because she is sick, so another person will be assisting you today. He has his own schedule in the bank, so his main responsibility is to his main schedule. So, he will not attend to you, until after he finishes with all his officially scheduled customers. Then he came to you at around 12 noon and apologize and said he will now attend to you. But alas, the network is down again. So, another waiting started. All this so that you could get your $20, under this draconian and to me illegal rule introduced by Mr., Emefiele. At around 1400hrs, the network is back, and now you are praying that you will be the first to be called. But no, there are several others before you. Finally, finally you are asked to come and sign some paper to be handed over the $20.
But collecting the now infamous $20 is not the end of your agony, because now you must go any money exchanging Hub to change your $20. So, you arrived there, and you approached a vendor and ask him how much dollar is exchanging today. He will say “we are buying at 415 naira to a dollar and selling at 430 to a dollar. Reluctantly you produced your $20. And he said, oh I am sorry, I thought your dollar is in hundred-dollar bills. For small denominations like yours, I will pay you only 300 naira to a dollar. You have no strength even to argue, you just accepted his first offer. Now you will get only N6,000 naira for that twenty dollars, instead of N7,760 after all your suffering and missing classes and the transport fare you spent which could be more than one thousand naira. Just because Mr. Emefiele, the governor of the central bank has decided to change a working and expedient policy for all sides.
This is a role play for a student, since hopefully, universities will reopen next month, after the useless, unpatriotic, and devastating strike by the selfish and arrogant ASUU. This student portrayed in this role play situation is heart and healthy. Now imagine, you are sending the money for a medical procedure for your aged father, mother, uncle or any relative. If they must go through this hardship, by the time they collect whatever amount is sent to them, probably, the patient will have died. This is pathetic, cruel, and inhumane.
Another danger associated with this policy is the flow of fake dollar bills. Since its inception, there are reports by unsuspecting recipients of getting fake dollar bills from the banks. They did not know or notice it until after they left the banks.
The central bank must revert to the old policy, since it has been working well. If it insists on jettisoning it, then the national assembly should direct them accordingly. We are all Nigerians. I suppose most of us care about Nigeria as well as, if not more than Mr. Emefiele. All we do here is work hard, pay our bills and if there is anything left, help our relatives back home. Now that is been taken away from us. I hope the President if he is not aware of this will be by now. Most Nigerians in diaspora are not criminals. They are good, decent, patriotic, and hardworking people, living under extreme circumstance just to have a decent life and help relatives at home. We should not be treated like we are scumbags. Wiring money directly to the accounts of Nigerians, in Nigeria, in Nigerian currency should not be difficult, unwieldy, or colossal. Please revert to the old policy. It was working well for us. Unless Mr. Emefiele has some other ultra-bias intention. Then, the President should sack him.