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.As Obaseki, Abiodun meet CBN officials to address naira crunch
A Clinical Psychologist at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Micheal Ezenwa has advised Nigerians to see the current situation in Nigeria as a transition period that will be over in no distant time.
Ezenwa is the immediate past President of Nigerian Psychological Association and Country Coordinator, International Consortium of Universities for Drug Demand Reduction (ICUDDR).
He said the current fuel and new currency scarcity had placed Nigerians on a difficult pedestal but would ease with time.
He said with good understanding of the reasons behind the currency redesign and assurance that the difficulty was a passing phase in Nigeria’s national life, people would come out greater.
The university don said the massive queues at the banks and filling stations was due to unnecessary anxiety, advising that people should go for the items that would meet their immediate needs.
“As a people, we have survived a lot of social problems, the most recent being the EndSars demonstration. We shall also pass through this successfully.
“The combined problem of cashlessness, fuel scarcity and high price where it exists is putting the masses through so much stress; as a people, we have survived a lot of social problems, the most recent being the Endsars demonstration.
“If we look forward to a brilliant future, we can temporarily forget our present difficulties and go through them with optimism, it will lessen the impact of the present challenges on our health and overall welfare,” he said.
Ezenwa said rather than subjecting themselves to excessive mental stress or civil disobedience, Nigerians should express their frustrations through the ballot box.
He said Nigeria of anybody’s dream was possible but the electorate should consciously and collectively resolve to enthrone a leadership that would administer the country as a unit devoid of religious or primordial considerations.
“I advise Nigerians to insist on voting the right person into the coming presidential election on Feb. 25.
“We must vote for a new Nigeria, vote for a president that has no corruption or identity issues, we have the chance to make our country great again through the right use of the ballot paper. “If we fail to make the right choice, we shall pay very dearly for it
“No country grows great without her citizens deciding for it, so we must give our volition for a new Nigeria with needed support,” he said.
However, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Monday, met with officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and senior executives of banks in the state to proffer a lasting solution to the cash crunch in the state and country.
Obaseki, while addressing journalists after the closed-door meeting at the Government House, Benin City, said he is in support of the Federal Government’s cashless policy but urged for mechanisms to make the process seamless.
He said, “Today, I invited senior management of banks in the State and the Central Bank of Nigeria to meet with the government as we are concerned about the plight and sufferings of Edo people on the inability to get cash from the banking system in the State.
“After much deliberation, we have come to the following resolution that the policy of moving Nigeria’s economy to a cashless one should be encouraged as it’s the best thing for our banking system. The Edo State Government doesn’t have any problem with the Federal Government’s policy to move the nation’s economy to a cashless one.”
“I, however, urge the Federal Government to do this painlessly and seamlessly as possible and improve on communication to reduce the fear of the people,” Obaseki charged.
Reassuring the government’s commitment to helping end the naira crunch in the state, the governor urged Edo people to make payments using alternative means through transfers or the use of USSD codes.
Obaseki noted, “We will release names of POS operators in the State. They are not only to pay you cash but also help you with payment through transfer.
“The Edo State Government has launched its residency identity card which gives you the capacity to make payments. We are working closely with the CBN, and by next week, we will start with the full rollout to help Edo residents.
“We have to emphasize to citizens that they don’t need to move around with cash unlike before when we keep lots of cash. There are means of spending cash without holding a lot of cash.We are moving into a cashless economy. It happens in other countries, both for transportation, purchasing PMS, and even for buying goods and services. We should insist on payment through other means rather than paying with cash.”
He added: “We will join the CBN and Bankers Committee to go around the State and inspect what is going on. We will make a telephone line open to citizens from which platform we will know the challenges they face and will continue to respond until things normalize. Edo is a peaceful state; no need to make trouble as we need to collaborate to solve the issue. Nigeria is our country and it’s our responsibility to protect and defend our country.”
The Director of Risk Management, CBN, Abuja, Dr. Blaise Ijebor, noted: “We want to drive a cashless-like environment in Nigeria because it’s beneficial to us. I encourage you to use alternative means as possible as we know some ATMs are not paying. We will do our best within a day or two to make sure all the ATMs are paying for those that need cash.”
He said a monitoring team, comprising the EFCC and ICPC is going around the state to identify those conniving to create artificial scarcity of the naira, adding, “We will identify these groups and deal with such to stabilize the situation. I urge Edo people to be calm as this problem will soon be resolved.”
Similarly, The Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, on Monday, paid an unscheduled visit to the Abeokuta branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria to seek relief on the amounts that citizens can withdraw in exchange for deposits made in commercial banks.
The governor also offered to lend members of his cabinet to monitor cash distribution to banks to ensure that no commercial bank or their agents hoard the new naira notes in the state.
The governor stated these when he visited the management of the apex bank led by the Branch Controller, Wahab Oseni, in Abeokuta.
Abiodun who later met with Bankers Forum, made up of managers of commercial banks in the state, also extracted a commitment from both the CBN and commercial banks to make cash available to bank customers from Tuesday.
According to the governor, it is disappointing to see long queues of residents at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), waiting to cash money from the system with so much stress and some not getting enough to meet their immediate needs.
He added that it is humiliating that those who were attended to were paid not more than two thousand naira per transaction.
Abiodun, however, urged the CBN to ensure the availability of new notes at commercial banks for people to withdraw their money.
The governor explained that he was compelled to visit the state branch of the CBN as the “landlord to find out how we can collaborate to ensure that success of the CBN policy on the new notes and currency swap”.
“I’ve met with the President and CBN governor. It is within the right of the CBN by law and as enshrined in the Constitution.
“Our people went out in their numbers but our people who deposited money and felt they would have as much money as they had deposited or need for their daily needs and welfare and wellbeing.
“We’ve had to suspend our campaigns. I met with people over the weekend who said to me that they have not eaten for days, especially, those from the informal sector.
“As a governor, whose primary function is the welfare and security of our people, I need to find out how we can interact with you to see how we can improve on the current level of distribution of the currency in order to diffuse tension”, Abiodun submitted.
The governor who appealed to the youths in the state not to embark on any civil unrest, noted that such actions would only shut down the economy of the state and make things much more difficult.
“I want to use this medium to talk to our youths that when there is a problem, the solution is not to hit the streets and to start protest marches; we can not solve a problem with another problem.
“I want to plead with our youths that rather than sending social media announcements of impending disobedience around town, they should embrace peace. We are a very peaceful state; we are very orderly and we have spent a lot of time and energy to invest in that peace and security.
“You cannot because of this problem now want to begin to hit the street to shut down the system and commercial activities.”
Earlier in his remarks, the state controller of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Wahab Oseni pleaded with the people to exercise patience.
He assured the people of the state that they will start having access to more cash as from tomorrow, Tuesday, February 7th, 2023.
Oseni while noting that the Ogun State branch of the bank has enough cash to distribute among commercial banks in the state, disclosed that the bank has come up with a plan that would see 40% cash disbursed to money agents, 30% paid across the counter and 30% paid through the Automatic Teller Machine.
He also added that Microfinance banks in the state have also been added to the plan of cash disbursement across the country.
At the meeting were representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria from Lagos and Abuja, Mr Adefuye Adeyemi and Mr Kayode Makinde while assuring the good people of the state that the situation will improve Tuesday noted that the bank would ensure full compliance by commercial banks on the disbursement of cash.
Both the controller and the State government team led by Gov. Abiodun later had a session with commercial bank executives in his office to on modalities agreed with the apex bank to ease the naira scarcity facing the people
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