Stoking two irons in the fire
Given the fiasco that currency note swap has engendered, on hindsight it must sound amazing how we could have thought of stoking two irons in the fire at the same time. I am referring to the currency note change and enforcement of electronic banking on the one hand and general elections on the other. How could we have done one without the other?
The implications of the nexus between the two crucial activities did not quite sink until at the point of implementation when it waves existential threat in the face of everybody—the high and the lowly. Yet the imperative of the nexus would seem compelling.
Have you heard or not a party spokesman saying that his party spent N400 billion on the Presidential election and that a lawmaker in Rivers State was caught with $498,000 (US Dollars)? How was the humongous sum of money raised? Through party membership dues? What each of the remaining 17 parties spent, particularly the frontlines, we are yet to be told. One of the objectives of the sudden currency swap and cashless policy is to prevent the possibility of vote buying. Another is to get the citizens cultivate the culture of electronic banking which is thought would be a veritable tool to fight kidnapping. These were no doubt most pressing in the consideration of the Central Bank and the Presidency.
They must have had their intelligence and had to act precipitously. In 1953, membership dues in the two major parties in the Western Region, the Action Group (AG) and the NCNC was hardly more than 3p (three pence). I will require His Majesty Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s intervention to say how much this comes to in the present time, given the amount of water that has passed under the bridge since 1953 till date. How much voting buying or selling, even if on credit, can that fetch anyone even where the contenders could boast of financial muscle endowment? But time has changed. Vote buying and selling was an obvious possibility.
The Central Bank also stated that the policy is aimed at reducing cases of armed robbery, terrorism financing, and advance free fraud, graft and ransom payment as well as escalate financial inclusion. Central Bank Governor also said the policy was to make currency counterfeiting difficult and indeed that 80 per cent of the currency in circulation was outside the banking system. As of September, 2022, a total of N3.2tr was in circulation out which N2.73tr was outside the vaults of the commercial banks.
The Supreme Court seems more persuaded that achieving these latter objectives could be spread to last up to end of the year. Considering the timing some politicians believe that the policy was targeted at them. Apparently fearing that the bigger denomination of the currencies in particular would be mobbed up, the Central Bank either did not print enough or did not release enough so that bank managers eyeing big accounts of high net-worth men would not parcel a big chunk of what may released to them, thus defeating the aims and objectives of the entire policy.
The country consequently found itself at a crossroads with the Supreme Court scolding President Buhari, saying he did not follow the due process that such a sensitive subject required. The Council of State was not put in the picture.
In the meantime, it is confusion galore. Tensions heighten, temperament flared. Unfortunately, the policy robbed most pockets of money. As money supply reduced, money-boxes were hurriedly broken into, money changers ran out of cash, and money lenders closed shop. Crowds gathered on bank premises, some lingering in the vicinity of banks, battling against the vicissitudes of life. It has been as if the country is in retrograde motion.
Most cash dispenser machines went empty, rendering cash cards ineffective, disturbing the purpose of the policy. Ditto, empty cash register machines in shops aggravated the already unhealthy and charged cash flow situation.
Nigerians were suddenly given an unpleasant insight into what life would be like as a war victim with the cash card standing in for ration card used in war zones. Customers’ money in the bank vaults was reduced to insignificance since it was unreachable. Many were grateful to being able to draw rations from the fixed daily allowance of new Naira notes available in few machines. At times, some were rationed to a mere N2, 000 per day, the unlucky to nothing. Nearly everyone became moneyless save the moneyed classes that are long used to online banking.
In the ensuing maniacal rush for the new and of late, old Naira notes, people’s mood became menacing as it turned out that not even manioc, Africa stable diet could be purchased. Just as the CBN had rushed into the policy, so, have customers been trampled in the headlong rush at entrances of banks, causing bank officials to, in some cases, flee. In whatever capacity, in whatever role anyone—politicians who manipulate public opinion or bank officials who insensitive to another person’s pains opens himself to charges of insensate cruelty.
Money, understandably, is a matter of utmost interest to everyone. Society worldwide is orientated towards the utilisation of money. Back in the era of coins and bank notes, transactions were simply a cash and carry format. Since then, it has been one innovation after another in rapid succession. Advances in technology and in the international monetary system produced the cash card cum cash dispenser machine. Before we knew it, computational age gave birth to the cashless policy wherein crytocurrency followed on the heels of online and mobile banking. With manias for money, however, man is his own worst enemy; it is the bane of our existence. Man got his priorities wrong, governments worldwide inclusive.
For y money, the CBN idea would have been highly valued if its implementation has been based on a humane system. Afterall, society is centred on the power of money which determines the standard of living. Unfortunately though, too much attention given to the means of payment has resulted in it becoming a necessity—a matter of life and death. The cashless policy and currency swap were introduced when the banks have not upgraded their facilities to cope with demands attendant to the new steps. As a result, there was and still is congestion in request for money transfers or withdrawal. Today on planet earth, wherever one turns, domestic, societal, environmental, and political issues, all have financial connotations. To the moneyless, his life is considered worthless! In any shape or form—electronic, cheque, coin, or banknote, money induces people to go overboard about possessing it. Despite its complexities, its managers should maintain friendly relations by easing payment difficulties, which lamentably has not been the case. Money on its own has a pernicious influence on society. How did we miss it?
The obsession with the material world and physical comforts led mankind to the present pathetic state. Is it not thought provoking that the more money that is generated the more the increase in social problems? That tells us that we human beings have neglected the first things first—the cultivation of spiritual values. The higher Knowledge circulating world-wide tells us how to live such that we do not burden ourselves with guilt. With guilt, the faculty for guidance and help over simple as well as the seemingly complex is obstructed. Why are we cut out for easy life and refuse and refuse to refuse to aspire after lasting values?
Success in making money has become a measure of success in life. The higher knowledge gives a complete picture of the working of the Laws of Nature and teaches that life is purpose-built and indeed, that a life spent solely in the pursuit of pleasure and money does not guaranty eternal life for mankind. Deviation from the ideals as spell out by the Laws must have led in the first place to a thinking of vote buying which necessitated measures to cage it with both the thinking and efforts to halt it throwing the whole country into confusion and harrowing experiences. The suppression of all-knowing conscience through the over-cultivation of the cerebrum, the frontal brain at the expense of the back brain, cerebellum, meant to pick vibrational waves from of the conscience is the epitome of the struggle between good and evil. The frontal brain senses material vibrations only and being material cannot transcend beyond what the material has to offer.
Little wonder Lucien Siffrid, writing in the publication, A New Approach, states: ”The strength of the intellect and its knowledge –no matter how comprehensive both may be –are limited to the World of Matter. Its sphere of activity is this gross material world, and its period of existence is limited to the duration of our earth-lives. What lies beyond the world of matter is revealed only to the soul and to the spirit. To mature towards the radiant worlds far beyond matter, which contain the wonder of life Eternal given from the Light, is the task set before us. The task is ours not only when we pass into the Beyond, i.e. after physical death; it is our task right here on earth, in the world of gross matter.”
“A New Approach “is a magazine for the dissemination of the New Knowledge for True Upbuilding.” Lucien Siffrid continues: “So long as we do not strive to awaken the spirit, but submit only to the intellect, regarding it as the highest authority, so long shall we be unsuccessful in the struggle with ourselves…We do not grow beyond ourselves through intellectual self-recognition, but become ever more firmly and helplessly entangled within ourselves. Thus we cannot ‘become new,’ we cannot be ‘born again’ as new human beings, because the ‘rebirth of ma’ can only take place from out of the spirit, as Christ explained to Nicodemus more than 2,000 years ago. As long as our own nature, our character has not become new from out of the spirit, has not been ennobled through the intuitive perception, there can be no victory in the struggle with ourselves. On the contrary, each intellectual thought only binds us again to its consequences and progress is only registered in the imagination.”
To reduce the unhappiness, pain, and problems caused by the craving for and lack of money, we must listen to our conscience because virtue will prevail against evil. There is the urgent need to expand and upgrade facilities for electronic service delivery from the banks. Our escape route is to adhere to Nature’s Law. A philosophy of life based them will curb avarice, and lack of consideration for others.