By Evangelist.com.ng edition, Wednesday, December 20, 2023. Admin.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has described the current scarcity of naira being experienced by Nigerians as shameful, saying excuses would no longer suffice.
NLC also asked the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to find immediate solutions, adding that the CBN and federal government’s disregard for warnings meant they were deliberately inciting Nigerians against the system and constituted authority.
Joe Ajaero, president, NLC, who handed down this warning in Abuja at a press briefing said the patience of Nigerians was being stretched, adding that no government inflicts this level of pain on its citizenry and expects them to keep quiet for a long time.
The labour leader said, “The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is deeply concerned about the recent cash crunch that has gripped the Nigerian economy, particularly as the nation approaches the festive season. This economic challenge has far-reaching implications for the citizens of our great nation, and urgent steps must be taken to address this issue to prevent further hardship for the already suffering Nigerian populace.
“Fresh in the minds of every Nigerian is the excruciating conditions that we were all subjected to as a result of the last cash crunch earlier this year, orchestrated by the ill-conceived and ill-implemented currency redesign policy of the immediate past government.
“The sorrow that the botched exercise foisted on us is not what Nigerians wish to witness again in one year. This time, there is no discernible reason by the CBN neither any explanation from the Government for why Nigerians should be subjected to this level of suffering once again in 2023.”
According to Ajaero, if the CBN claimed that those with ill-gotten wealth were stashing cash in their houses to avoid detection, it would be a heavy indictment on the government’s anti-corruption agenda.
Describing the development as “shameful,” the labour leader noted, “this is because what the CBN is saying is that since the assumption of office of this government, the level of graft has increased, resulting in the creation of hideouts for the slush funds.
“The question then is; should the ordinary citizens be made to suffer the apparent incompetence of government in prosecuting the anti-corruption war or is it that there is actually no anti-corruption war going on?”
He said Nigerians spend more time in the banks trying to source for cash, insisting that this undermines confidence of the public in the banks and may discourage the citizenry from patronising the banks.
The NLC President added, “Though we have heard reasons like; the increase in fake notes in circulation and the hoarding of the naira. These reasons are clearly unacceptable as we cannot see anything that will make any Nigerian hoard the naira. In any case, it is not the ordinary Nigerian that hoards money in their houses.
“It is shameful that Nigerians would have to spend a lot of money to gain access to their hard-earned income. We are creating another avenue for economic rentiers such as the PoS operators and their collaborators in the banks to fleece Nigerians.
“Subjecting us again to spend our meagre salaries buying our money automatically devalues our income. PoS operators currently charge around N400 to access N10,000. This is about four per cent reduction in the value of the income of poor Nigerians who hardly make use of electronic platforms to perform their transactions.”
The NLC President noted that for many citizens who were already impoverished by government policies, foisting on them another era of cash scarcity would amount to gross insensitivity and double jeopardy.
He added, “We are worried that by this action and others, the government may be inciting the people and mobilising them to seek alternative routes for protecting themselves from these perverse policies.
“We believe that the elastic limit of the patience of Nigerians is being breached and no government inflicts this level of pains on its citizenry and expects them to keep quiet for a long time. Forcing Nigerians into revolt by continuously taking actions that deny them basic access to survival will not augur well for our nation. This cash crunch is indeed another test of the already worn out patience of Nigerian masses and workers.
“During this Yuletide, which is traditionally a time of joy, celebration and familiar gatherings, the current cash shortage threatens to cast a shadow over the festivities for many Nigerians.”
Ajaero noted that the unavailability of cash had led to increased difficulties in meeting daily needs, exacerbating the economic challenges faced by ordinary citizens.
He said the NLC recognised the importance of a vibrant economy and believed that it was in the interest of the country to ensure that citizens enjoy the festive season without undue financial strain.
He stated further, “We call on the government to take immediate and decisive action to alleviate the cash crunch and mitigate its impact on the people. Government should therefore explore measures to inject liquidity into the economy, ensuring that there is sufficient cash flow to meet the demands of businesses and individuals.
“It is fairly tale to continue brandishing cash hoarding as an excuse. Nigerians want their money and it should be made available to them. Excuses are not what Nigerians want to hear but access to their money. We urge the government to collaborate with other financial institutions to improve banking services, such as ensuring the availability of cash at ATMs and bank branches to facilitate easy access for the public.”
He called on the CBN to provide clear communication to the public regarding the steps being taken to address the cash crunch and reassure citizens of the stability of the financial system.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress is not unmindful of the complexities of managing an economy, especially during challenging times. However, it is crucial for the government to prioritise the well-being of its citizens and take immediate action to alleviate their suffering