Home News Frustration, anger linger as naira scarcity continues

Frustration, anger linger as naira scarcity continues

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naira scarcity

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Perishable foods sellers lament low sales

Many homes and businesses are in dire straits over inability to access the new naira notes. Our correspondents report that small businesses and petty traders are the worst hit as the naira paucity crisis pushes many Nigerians to the desperation mode

Traders of perishable food items in Akwa Ibom State are counting their losses as a result of low patronage resulting from cash scarcity. Dealers on food items such as fruits, vegetables, tomatoes, sea foods and yams are the most affected.

Our correspondent, who visited some markets in the Uyo metropolis and adjoining towns such as Abak, Ikot Ekpene and Eket among others, reports that those who deal in perishable food items are gnashing their teeth. Mrs Ime Abia, who deals in fruits of all kinds at the Itam Market in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, said due to scarcity of cash, her regular customers have not been patronising her. As a result of the lack of patronage from her customers, her fruits get messed up.

She complained that she can’t preserve the fruits in her refrigerator due to the epileptic power supply in the area. Mrs Abia said: “I have suffered losses. Fruits that perish easily are watermelon, cucumber, banana, pawpaw and pineapple. I spent over N30000 in purchasing these fruits because I thought I will sell them and make a good profit.

“I don’t accept transfers. I prefer cash. So, when a few customers come, I don’t allow them to pay through transfer. How much are they even paying through transfer; N300 and N100 for banana and cucumber?”

Mallam Abdullahi Nuhu sells tomatoes, onions and pepper at Marina Junction Eket. He said he doesn’t accept transfers so his items are decaying. Mallam Nuhu, who was separating spoiled tomatoes and pepper from the good ones, asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Government to reverse the cashless policy and allow people to trade with cash.

He said he has lost over N147,000 as a result of the scarcity of cash because his items such as tomatoes have been perishing. Traders in Abia State also have some tales of woes to tell. They lament the negative impact of the scarcity of naira notes. They decried the negative impact of the cash crunch Nigerians experience amid the scarcity of the newly redesigned notes.

At Good Morning Market, Aba where traders deal on tomatoes, pepper, onions and yam sellers, our correspondent reports that traders lamented low patronage and continued loss which they suffer as their goods perish due to lack of patronage. Mrs Gloria Chiemela said: “The price of tomatoes fluctuates. We sold a basket of tomatoes between N18,000 and N20,000 between last week and the last two weeks. But as of today, the cost of transporting a basket of tomatoes to Aba is N7,500 while a basket of tomatoes sells for N10,000.”

In Kaduna, traders of perishable goods are also counting their losses due to cash scarcity. In Kaduna, cash scarcity is affecting both traders and consumers of perishable goods, as small businesses suffer the most under the cashless system. Our correspondent, who visited the Bakin Dogo Vegetable Market yesterday observed that, despite a crash in the prices of perishable goods such as tomatoes, onions, pepper and fruits, traders are recording low sales.

Read Also: Rivers to join Supreme Court suit against naira swap deadline

At Ayobo Market in Lagos, a trader, Mohammed who sells garden eggs said the scarcity of naira affected his sales. He said a bag of garden eggs which costs N5, 000 now sells for N8,000. An onion seller at Oshodi Market, Yakub noted that a bag of onions now sells between N30,000 and N32,000; unlike before when it sold between N35,000 and N37,000.

He said the naira scarcity has reduced sales because he doesn’t take cash transfers. With the impact of the cashless policy, the Yam Dealers’ Association of Nigeria, Imo State chapter has called on the Federal Government to end the use of old naira notes to mitigate the suffering of the masses. The association said that not even their willingness to reduce the prices of yam tubers could attract buyers because of the cash crunch.

The Chairman of the association, Chuks Oluoha (aka Americana) said many families cannot even afford a tuber of yam that costs only N500 because they have no money. He said that the cashless policy is adversely affecting their sales. Perishable fruit sellers in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, lamented as the scarcity of naira bites harder.

They lamented low patronage as most of their customers could not patronise them as a result of the scarcity of the new naira notes. They urged the government to save them from imminent debt which scarcity of the new naira notes has caused, saying they are gradually dying of hunger.

A plantain seller, Asisat Amusa, said: “There are no sales because there is no money. Banana I am supposed to sell for N200, I now sell it for N100 so that it won’t be wasted. I beg the government to make the new naira notes available so that our customers would start patronizing us again.”

In view of the scarcity of new naira notes in Edo State, traders in most markets in Benin and its environs are now selling their perishable food items at giveaway prices. Our reporter, who was at the popular Oba Market on Ring Road, and Santana Market on Sapele Road, Benin, observed that the traders were being forced by the current cash crunch to sell the perishable goods at slightly above the cost prices, to prevent a total loss.

A middle-aged trader at Oba Market, Mrs Adesuwa Ehis said prior to the cash crunch, a big tuber of yam was sold for N2,500, but since Monday, she had to reduce the price to N1,800. Yet, there are no ready buyers. Another trader, Madam Margaret Chukwudi who sells tomatoes and pepper at Santana Market, revealed that her wares are being sold at “ridiculously-low” prices, in order not to completely lose out.

Our correspondent who visited the popular Arena Market in Oshodi observed that sellers of perishable food sellers such as orange, pineapple, pawpaw and plantain bemoaned the rate at which their goods get spoilt, low patronage and hike in the price of transporting these goods. In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, perishable food sellers are also counting their losses because of the current Naira/petrol crisis. A visit by our reporter to the popular Oil Mill Vegetable and Foodstuff Market revealed that the effect of the new naira policy and petrol crisis is taking a toll on their businesses.

Some of the sellers who spoke with The Nation lamented that they have incurred huge losses as a result of the current naira and petrol situation. One of the traders, Mrs Comfort Ezekiel said: “People come to market these days without cash. They are willing to buy, but they don’t have cash. They prefer paying through transfer, but we do not accept, because we will not be able to get the money from banks to buy more goods.”

They urged the Federal Government and the CBN to end the cash and petrol crisis to ameliorate the suffering of the poor in Nigeria. Also, sellers of perishable food items at Cele Market, Lagos, yesterday lamented the decrease in sales due to naira scarcity. A visit to the market by our correspondent showed that tomatoes and fruit sellers no longer buy the usual quantity of goods that they normally purchase for fear of losing money in case they don’t didn’t sell their goods.

Disobey Supreme Court order and risk contempt, SAN tells CBN

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Richard Ogunwole, yesterday, advised Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to abide by the Supreme Court’s temporary order halting the move by the Federal Government to ban the use of old naira notes from February 10. Ogunwole said that the Supreme Court’s decision remained final and must be followed by all, irrespective of status or position.

“There is nobody in Nigeria today who is not feeling the harsh economic policy of CBN. We lawyers even find it difficult going to court because we also need money to transport ourselves there. It is the same situation for people from other professions. My advice to CBN, the federal government and the commercial banks is to abide by the order or risk contempt of court,” Ogunwole said.

However, a human rights activist and lawyer, Mr Femi Aborisade, said that the apex court had only allowed itself to be used by politicians by granting such an order. Aborisade said the critical problem was not the extension of the Feb. 10 deadline for the old naira notes to cease to be legal tender, but the availability of new notes. The essence of the extension is to serve as a relief to the generality of Nigerians,” said the legal practitioner. Aborisade expressed doubt on whether the Supreme Court had jurisdiction on a matter like naira redesign by CBN.

Protests rock Abuja over Supreme Court order as protesters urge CBN to stick to February 10 deadline

Hours after the Supreme Court halted the February 10 deadline for exchange of old naira notes, protesters took to the streets of Abuja to condemn the decision. The protests carried out mainly by youth organisations, who converged on the CBN headquarters and office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, backed the deadline and insisted that the CBN should not shift the date.

Some of the placards had inscriptions such as ‘Justice Ariwoola, resist plot to use our Supreme Court to undermine democracy;” “Police, SSS don’t allow opponents of naira redesign to burn banks and destroy public property;” “We stand with CBN;” “Old Notes: On February 10 deadline we stand.”

The protesters alleged that “unscrupulous politicians were trying to use the Supreme Court to derail the forth-coming general elections and to give legitimacy to corrupt politicians with the intention of buying votes.”

The group at the CBN, led by the coordinator of Civil Society Central Body, Mr. Obed Agu, alleged that the CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, is working for a certain presidential candidate and that they would resist such moves. He said, “The supreme Court wants to aid corrupt politicians to buy votes. The Supreme Court ex parte application has no legal basis. We are rejecting it, because it is a plot to open the bank vaults to enable vote buyers and holders of illicit wealth to have cash to buy votes. We ask the CJN to hurriedly vacate the ex parte order in the overall interest of the Nigeria election. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an executive order for the February 10th deadline and prevent further extension,” he said.

The group urged Nigerians not to accept the old naira notes as from February 10. They insisted that some politicians were trying to use the Supreme Court to erode the independence of the CBN which has the sole responsibility of monetary policy in the country. Declaring a vote of confidence in the CBN, Mr. Agu said that Civil Society Organisations in the country were in full support of the CBN and would ensure that the plot of the corrupt politicians failed.

“Civil society groups in Nigeria are ready to fully support both policies and it is on that strength that I have been empowered to inform Nigerians that the Nigerian Civil Society Community has passed a vote of confidence on the naira redesign policy and the cash withdrawal limit policy. This vote of confidence is also on the condition that the February 10 deadline is not shifted. It is based on the foregoing that we alert the security agencies that the protests planned to be held tomorrow, Thursday February 9, 2023 guised as protests against scarcity of the new Naira are indeed protests planned and organised to cause violence, destruction of public property, disruption of public order and arson.”

‘Political parties threatening boycott of elections insensitive’

The 13 political parties that threatened to boycott the 2023 general elections if the CBN extends the deadline for new naira notes policy beyond February 10 came under heavy attack by an anti-sabotage organisation, the Natives. The group did not only frown at the decision of the political parties but described them as insensitive to the plight of many Nigerians who are suffering the effect of the new monetary policy. The Natives said the thirteen political parties are “agents of sabotage which are unmindful of the suffering of the Nigerian masses as a result of CBN current policy.”

Last Monday, some political parties led by National Chairman of Action Alliance (AA), Chief Kenneth Udeze, threatened to boycott the forthcoming general elections should CBN extend the deadline. Responding to the development through a statement yesterday in Abuja, The Natives, President General, Smart Edwards, condemned the action of the parties and declared that Nigerians do not know whether the said political parties exist on the ballot papers. According to Edwards, “no prominent and well rooted grassroots political party will support a policy implementation that is inflicting hardship on Nigerians, this parties are like one-man portfolio political parties and therefore not in contention.”

Students, traders block Ilesha-Akure-Owo highway

Protesters in Ondo State block the Ilesha-Akure-Owo highway yesterday over scarcity of the naira and high cost of fuel.   The protesters prepared a musical stage and danced on the highway. Organisers of the protest, however, warned hoodlums against making any attempts to hijack the protest. “This is a peaceful protest. We are here to tell the government we are not happy but whoever wants to hijack this protest to loot and destroy properties will be handed over to the police.” Ondo State Chairman of National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Comrade Oloroso Surprise, said the protest was to send a message to the government that the people are not happy.

Comrade Oluyemi Fasipe advised the Federal government to streamline the naira policy in line with the need of the people. According to him, “The current hardship from the scarcity of naira and high price of petrol is causing frustration among our people. The situation is uncomfortable for everybody. It has nothing to do with personality. No one has access to naira freely. We want to pass message that the government should be fast to tackle the issue. We also have a message for the Ondo State Government. We realised petrol dealers hike prices necessarily even when they got product at official price. We want the state government to set up a committee to monitor sales of petrol and also access to money. We want to be part of that committee. The government should do what is good for the masses. The masses are at the receiving end. This policy is too harsh. Old notes should be used alongside the new notes.”

Another protester, Mr. Omotayo Samuel, said they were passing the message that the people were not happy with the situation of these past days. “We are not happy. We are now buying naira. Government should reverse these policies. It is politics to change money at this time. Many people are suffering it is difficult to get money these days.” To Ilesanmi Ademola, “We are doing this peaceful protest. We have been hearing several youths want to disrupt the peace of the state. We do not want a repeat of endsars. We want fuel and cash to be available. The timing of the policy is bad.” Ondo Police Commissioner, Oyeyemi Oyediran, who addressed the protesters, commended them for being peaceful. He appealed to them not to allow hoodlums hijack the protest.

Miyetti Allah urges Buhari to suspend action, leave office in peace

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend action on the new naira policy for his successor to continue. The group said yesterday that the policy has brought suffering and pains to the poor and needy, adding that he should forget about it for now and leave office in peace. The ongoing scarcity of the new naira notes redesigned by the CBN and the scarcity of fuel had placed Nigerians in agony.

Briefing reporters yesterday in Awka, Anambra State, the Chairman of MACBAN in the Southeast, Alhaji Gidado Sidikki, called on Buhari to hands off on the policy and allow his successor after his peaceful handover in May 29 to champion the cause. The Association alleged that the policy was a plot by some politicians working in and around the President to paint him black. Sidikki appealed to Nigerians to bear with the Federal Government, noting that the situation would be over in a very short possible time as promised by the President.

“MACBAN is calling on the President to as a matter of his reputation to suspend or hands off on the policy as he did when he suspended the implementation of the RUGA settlements project under the National Livestock Transformation Plan in 2019. This is because Nigerians are not happy with him (Buhari) over the current situation in the country amidst tension in the forthcoming general elections.”

Bank workers threaten to shut down over attacks

The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) has threatened to withdraw the services of its members nationwide, following attacks on some commercial bank premises. It also said that it would not stop the withdrawal until the attacks on its workers are addressed and security ensured. NUBIFIE’s General Secretary, Mr Mohammed Sheikh, in a statement on yesterday, expressed dismay over recent attacks on bank workers without proper protection by security agencies.

Sheikh, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and various stakeholders to strive and end the hardship brought as a result of the change of cash withdrawal policy. He also asked Nigerians, who were unable to access their funds deposited in banks, to bear with the situation. “We, therefore, call on the Central Bank of Nigeria to review cash withdrawal policy which has affected the business of over 200,000 Point of Sales businesses in Nigeria,” Sheikh said.

This report was filed by  Jide Orintunsin, Osagie Otabor, Nwanosike Onu, Emma Elekwa, Bassey Anthony, Sunny Nwankwo, AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Damola Kola-Dare, Chris Njoku, Segun Showunmi, Bisi Olaniyi Southsouth Bureau Chief, Victoria Amadi, Rosemary Nwisi, and Chinyere Okoroafor

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