I have been an advocate of a cashless Nigeria—or of minimum cash at least. That would be one of the greatest changes we would witness. Even for us who have seen many since the 1960s, this would truly be transformative.
The 47 days ultimatum is not an inch, but kilometers closer to that target. It is necessary from the administrative, economic and security points of view.
Even without giving the Naira a facelift, I was earlier this year advocating for a maximum cash withdrawal limit of N10,000. That would make all cash-based corrupt practices difficult, stabilize the Naira substantially, stamp out kidnapping, robbery, drugs, and many crimes. Cash is the oxygen of evil in our society. Withhold it and you will enjoy watching many criminals suffocate. The additional benefits of bringing mass numbers into the formal sector are also there.
Two things have been driving kidnapping. The GSM and Cash. Without contact with the relatives of the victim, there would be no kidnapping. And without cash available, the kidnapper is left with the option of not to kidnap at all or with the conundrum of kill-or-release, with no benefit either way. After a short while, it will be a worthless venture and abandoned.
I today run a cashless Ministry of Education and I know how sweet it is for a contractor, principal or labourer to get his FULL pay as he sits at home without suffering the risk and cost of distance. Executives can instantly receive the alerts of any deduction done. How beautiful! It is also sweet when every kobo can be easily be traced to the last beneficiary at any given time.
The CBN is right. The limited cash policy cannot not take off well unless the apex Bank smokes out the cash presently in circulation. So which way is better than face-lifting the currency? All of it will be delivered to the Bank and then it will give us the cap of limited cash to wear and the bullion van drivers can go to sleep.
It could be tasking to many though. But that is the nature of all the changes we have witnessed before. They come with initial difficulty but end with a smooth ride of progress.
The elite often cites rural folks as the would be victims, forgetting whether the masses are happier with the ongoing kidnapping for cash. The Bank is giving them a choice between cash and security of their lives. We the elites are choosing the cash for them. Haba. The shock of 1984 may not be there after all. We have 47 days, not just a week. Of course the agric sector will be hit hard being cash dependent but we will get used to it. The cash in livestock and grains markets has attracted the evil eye for long. We can not wait to block its view.
Let us wake up. Nigeria today is not the one of 1984. So many things have changed. It used to take me hours to withdraw N100 from my bank at Gusau Rd, Sokoto, in 1984. Today, one can send N10million with a tap of a finger on his mobile phone. It used to take a month to send N100 between Bauchi and Jos twenty years ago. Not anymore.
Let us embrace progress. Let us be positive about it and positive things will come. It is indeed a blessing to witness so much change in a life time. Alhamdulillah.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
28 October 2022