“Give me the power to make a nation’s money and I will care not who makes its laws”
Mayer Amschel Rothschild
President Muhammadu Buhari’s enrichment cabal are evil geniuses in mascot clothing whose acts are deserving of multiple Oscars.
How they device self-enriching schemes caparisoned as people oriented to fleece the nation with the masses almost never recognising the chicaneries for what they are defies science and beats magic in all marvel ratings.
Let’s not talk about the privatisation of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or the incorporation of Nigeria Air let alone the “scrambling and partitioning” of Electricity Distribution Companies. Apologies to Walter Rodney (How Europe Underdeveloped Africa).
The simple giveaway here is the apocalyptic timing. Why choose to implement such chancy policies at the denouement of the administration? Who is supposed to supervise their operations? Why wait for 8 years before privatising NNPC? Why should floating a national carrier run since 2018 and is yet to begin operations four years after? Why let the president’s two terms elapse before scrambling Discos?
Now their latest blockbuster is titled reissuance of bank notes. The politically handy N200, N500 and N1000 denominations are about to be recommissioned. To whose benefits?
According to the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele over 3 trillion Naira notes are supposedly in circulation but merely a trillion Naira have been accounted for by banks. So the presumption is that the remaining unaccounted couple of trillions are stockpiled somewhere. Natural suspects, politicians. Methinks Mr. Emefiele must think Nigeria a populace of simpletons to insinuate that 2 trillions cannot comfortably circulate among a population of over 200 million people. Simple arithmetic puts the division at N10, 000 per person. And last I checked, the highest amount a citizen is permitted to possess in cash according to the money laundering act 2011 is N5 million.
Logically, the assumption that politicians are hoarding more than half of Nigeria’s cash circulation in Naira, as true as we may “know” it to be doesn’t really add up as shown by the calculation here. And by the way, politicians actually hoard more monies in dollars, pounds, gold and even crypto currencies since Naira took the nose dive. Emefiele himself knows this too well.
Another flaw in CBN’s logic is in the cost of printing new monies not just under an inflation economy but when the inflation in at its peak! This is pure madness. CBN should first tell Nigeria how much it will cost the nation to print new Naira notes and the effect it will have on our economy. By virtue of section 8(4) & (5) of the CBN Act, Mr. Emefiele is presumed to have presented this report to the National Assembly before seeking and obtaining presidential approval to so proceed default of which the National Assembly are now duty bound to probe the said policy in exercise of its powers in Section 88(1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federation Republic of Nigeria (As Amended)
Actually, printing smaller denominations as anti-inflation spending crusade would have made more economic sense than printing larger denominations which corollary encourage and facilitate inflation spending. Surely, the National Assembly could not have been co-opted into this.
Now, away from the above simplistic economic and legal malformations the flaws it is only pertinent to run a socio-political x-ray for “fraud lights” in Governor Emefiele’s reissuance scheme most of which are quite alarming.
First, is the fact that the present administration have been so intent in printing new currencies to the extent that the nation woke up one fine morning in May 2021 to be greeted by a leaked interview of HE. Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transport, informing that monies had been surreptitiously printed by the Central Bank to boost the nation’s economy. Why would he divulge such secret government information if true? Could it be because of patriotism or the fact that he was denied a share of the junk capital?
Hence, how can we trust the same government to print new bank notes and reissue same with accountability? Obviously, these guys want to print money for themselves to take home as their administration winds up. Final take home package indeed!
Secondly, it is now public secret that the CBN under the leadership of Mr. Emefiele runs a black market dollar syndicate where they sell dollars to their Bureau De Change surrogates at low rates who in turn sell at scandalous rates to members of the public. Ostensibly, politicians hoarding Nairas in hundreds of millions will be compelled by Emefiele’s announcement of the New Banking Notes Reissuance Police to convert the Nairas they cannot declare at banks into dollars and other foreign currencies.
Fortunately for them, who actually takes down the names of people who visit bureau de change to convert their money? Nobody. So who stands to benefit from this rush hour Naira conversion more than the CBN foreign exchange syndicates who are members of this very same government?
The third act, they say, is a charm. So is the third “fraud light”. Politics. According to Governor Emefiele, reissuance will commence on 15 December 2022 and end on 31st January 2023. Why the hurry?! The present administration has till 29th May 2023 to handover which is more than three more months after the reissuance ultimatum so why insist that over 200 million people should return their old bank notes in less than 60 days in a country where there are no banks in more than half of the 774 Local Government Areas?
The rationale is to frustrate other candidates of other political parties except that of the president in the forthcoming general elections in February and March 2023. In essence, only the president’s candidates will have enough legitimate N200, N500 and N1000 notes to meet their campaigns cash needs. Sensing that the APC is on daily exponential popularity loss they now resort to vote buying with new currencies fearing that those against them may even have or be willing to spend more cash than themselves.
Invariably, the target is to make currency flow run dry nationwide by February 2023 to enable votes buying and selling that Electoral Act 2022 prohibits and to have transactions by political opponents thoroughly monitored.
Meanwhile, dry cash flow does not in anyway mean reduced inflation. It is just a momentary cash gag that will lead to an outburst in a couple of months thereby worsening the inflation crisis.
Back to conversion. Nobody has said that one cannot convert his N200, N500 and N1000 bank notes into smaller denominations of N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5, hoard them for about a year and then begin to pay them back into the bank. If there’s anything experience has taught us in this country it is the fact that there’s almost no mischief our politicians cannot contrive to protect and advance their personal interests. It will only cost them a smaller percentage. Money merchants will begin to sell their smaller bank notes at outrageous percentage. By the way, who are the money merchants? Our Politicians and our CBN syndicates.
Another flaw the Naira Czar has failed to take into consideration is the level of money laundering activities that this policy will inspire. Faux Commerce thrives in times like this. Chief Ole will pretend to buy a fripperies worth tens and thousands of millions from Mr. Onyoshi or Barawo Plc by paying into the sellers account with an understanding that the said money will be withdrawn and returned to him later in the future provided that the owner of the account will be entitled to a substantial commission.
There’s another twist to this, Chief Ole may even be the owner or shadow director of the enterprise. It could also be in form of a philanthropic donation to a charity organisation, either owned by him or connected to him, who shall in a decided future return the money in some obscure ways keeping for itself a substantial commission.
Thus, the proposed reissuance of bank notes by CBN’s Gov. Emefiele is gravely flawed and deliberately fraudulent legally and politically. In fact, it questions, as usual, the patriotism of those behind it.
It is on this premise that yours truly has taken steps to probe its procedural propriety and otherwise by writing to the CBN under Freedom of Information Act demanding evidence that a report of the said policy had been first presented to the National Assembly and/or its relevant committees as required by law before seeking and obtaining the president’s approval. Perhaps the National Assembly may take cue from here to do the needful. Regardless, yours truly is determined to go the whole nine yards. “Godspeed” methinks are in order herein.
Ewa Okpo Edmund II
Street Lawyer, Arbitrator and Literati