Having devised all sorts of formulas to survive, ordinary Nigerians have become so indestructible that they were almost invisible in their suffering over the new naira notes.
The people hardest hit by the perfect storm of incompetence, negligence and conspiracy by their government would have suffered alone but the problem exploded in everybody’s face.
It hit the middle class, traders, professionals and grandma.
Folks have always had the government grabbing them by the throat, snuffing out life, year after year.
The sharp contrast this time is the aggressiveness and stubbornness over a policy that has failed.
The mindless insistence on the naira recoloring scheme by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the backing of the Buhari administration reveals a tone-deaf government detached from the yearnings of its people.
This is a country where the people are already gasping for breath from enfeebling fuel scarcity and epileptic electricity supplies, on top of 22 percent inflation and 37 percent unemployment rates.
The groaning of the most vulnerable of our people, which could be heard around the globe, is hardly audible to the people who placed the weight of the state on them and are pressing even harder.
The wailing of the masses is just soothing music to their tormentors, the leaders they elected.
Footage on social media reveal heart-wrenching reactions to suffering in banking halls all over Nigeria, with grown men and women crying like babies, with some stripping naked to make a case to cash their deposits.
The society begins to lose dignity when basic needs like food for the children, cannot be met.
Out of hunger, decent people lost all sense of self-respect in the public space.
They demanded an immediate mitigation of their natural and basic needs.
Intense anger among bank customers that has been on display indicates we are at a breaking point.
You don’t unfold one of the most strategic projects in the life of a nation and walk away – and that is exactly what Emefiele did
Some are resorting to violence to bank officials or each other, when the problem is no one’s making but the government’s.
The scarcity of the naira, leading to a black market in which people have to buy money, is a watershed moment in ineptitude, even by Nigerian’s poor pubic programming standards.
The Central Bank’s change of currency to new colors will be on record as one of the most unplanned, heartless, cruel and inhuman policies of any central bank in the world.
No matter the pros of the plan, attempting to swap currency within a month and a half in a nation of 200 million people with poor logistics was a disaster waiting to happen.
When the Central Bank decided to put new naira notes with new colors in circulation to end illicit funds, laundering and foster its cashless banking policy, it bit more than it could chew.
Without deep reasoning, the CBN either assumed it had the expertise, capacity and ability to work this miracle in less than two months – or, as some alleged, it acted deliberately to implement a hidden agenda.
Old naira notes were to be completely replaced by the end of January, ending counterfeiting, corruption and terrorism financing.
That was a wish or a scam.
Nobody who knew enough about Nigeria’s lack of capacity in social engineering would think it was ever possible to carry out such an ambitious program in so little time.
Everyone thought it was a joke right out of the gate, but the CBN was adamant.
It is either the Central Bank did not know what it was doing or it intentional embarked on a journey that was doomed.
Soon after the new notes were released, videos of Nigerians spraying bundles of new naira notes at parties emerged, when many citizens had not even had a glimpse of the new currency.
Those were the early signs this was going awry.
By the new year, it was evident the Central Bank got it wrong and needed to tweak its plans.
It did not. Instead of a plan and a contingency, all the CBN had was an inflexible will.
Instead of pausing to review the program, the CBN continued like a train on fire.
Now, the train is on fire that could consume it.
Every appeal to reason was ignored, even demeaned.
The CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, was indifferent and obnoxious, vacationing out of the country for a full month.
Soon after the new notes were released, videos of Nigerians spraying bundles of new naira notes at parties emerged, when many citizens had not even had a glimpse of the new currency
You don’t unfold one of the most strategic projects in the life of a nation and walk away – and that is exactly what Emefiele did.
While the National Assembly hounded him to appear and explain how he planned to carry out his program, the CBN governor completely refused to answer questions directly.
Emefiele was gone like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, on a lonely island without the Internet.
He ignored Nigerians, only to come back to meet a problem that is bigger than his head.
Fathers are asking what the children are going to eat. Mothers are wondering where the next meal will come from.
And children are looking for an explanation.
People have money but no spending power.
Money has become useless under the engineered crisis. A new problem has been introduced to Nigerians.
Bankers are saying they don’t have cash in their vaults and the ATMs have become Automated Trivial Machines with nothing to dispense.
Point-of-Sale operators cannot make transfers most of the time and a sprawling black market for naira is growing.
The entire exercise describes modern Nigeria, where the government has failed itself and the people.
The President, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, promised a decision within seven days, oblivious that people have nothing to eat.
Governments do get things wrong sometimes, but a government that stubbornly refuses to do what is right by its people when it has gone off track is a danger to its people.
That is why questions about whether there is another story to this naira scarcity becomes relevant.
Could it be that the whole policy is an apocalyptic plan to scuttle the upcoming elections?
Is it a coincidence that the crunch is happening just weeks to a national election? Is it a manipulation of the will of the people and the way of the nation?
The problem is not irreversible.
If new notes are insufficient to go round, the CBN can just recirculate the old notes that have been collected and extend the deadline, so that human suffering can stop?
If the plan is to make the people submissive ahead of the elections, Nigerians are so crushed they may not even be able to walk to the polling centres
Emefiele has behaved like a doctor who administers a medicine that is stronger than the strength of his patient.
He cannot continue to insist his plan is irreversible.
No policy is more important than the well-being of the Nigerian. The Central Bank operates at the pleasure of Nigerians.
The scarcity of currency is an insurrection against public welfare, as someone reasoned.
When the people are blurred by policy makers, something has to give. Emefiele must go.
Heads must roll at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The bank has been too insensitive to the groanings of the people to be relevant to the society.
Whatever they created has no human content. Punishment is required.
President Buhari does not have seven days to make up his mind.
It is his administration that has also ensured that petroleum is scarce in order to increase prices.
He cannot continue like a dictator. He must listen. He must see. He must hear.
If the plan is to make the people submissive ahead of the elections, Nigerians are so crushed they may not even be able to walk to the polling centres.