The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on President Bola Tinubu’s administration and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to urgently address the current scarcity of naira notes that is impacting citizens across the country.
The NLC expressed serious concern, stating that the CBN and the Federal Government’s disregard for previous warnings seems to be a deliberate act of provocation towards Nigerians, undermining their authority.
Describing the scarcity as shameful, the NLC stated that mere excuses would no longer be tolerated.
During a press briefing in Abuja, Joe Ajaero, President of the NLC, issued this caution, emphasizing that the prolonged scarcity was testing the patience of the Nigerian people.
Ajaero 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?”
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.”
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.