Nigeria: A Land of Queues

In many Nigerian cities today, the popular refrain is: “Which queue are you in today – for petrol, PVC or new naira notes?”

This has become necessary due to the important role that the three articles play in the scale of needs of Nigerians and in the country’s economy.

The items listed above have been made scarce, according to Nigerians, by dark forces holding the country hostage.

From collecting the permanent voter card (PVC) to qualify to vote, to buying gasoline to increase productivity in a country that is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) but has a constant fuel shortage, to collection new naira notes it was wailing all along.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party, lamented the excruciating pain Nigerians are going through over government policies during an election campaign in Abeokuta, southwestern Ogun state, on Wednesday.

Tinubu had spoken as if he had received information that some apparatchiks within his party were out to thwart his ambition to succeed Muhammadu Buhari, who is due to leave office on May 29, 2023.

The obviously angry politician said: “Even if they say there is no fuel, we will go to the vote. You have a lot of mischief; You could say there is no fuel. They planned to create a fuel crisis, but forget it.”

“Relax, I, Asiwaju, have told you that the fuel supply issue is being addressed on an ongoing basis. If you want to eat the honey embedded in a mountain, you don’t have to worry about the axe. Is not that so? And if you want to eat palm kernels, you would bring stone and use it to break it, then the kernel will come out,” he is said to have said in the Yoruba language as well.

He wasn’t finished when he said: “Let them raise the price of fuel, only they know where they have hoarded fuel, they have hoarded money, they have hoarded naira; we will go and vote and we will win. Even if they changed the ink on naira notes. Whatever their plans, they will come to nothing. We will win. Those in the PDP will lose (Won Ma Lule).

“They said that the price of fuel will increase and will reach N200 per liter. Go and relax. They don’t want this election to happen, they want to destroy it. Do you agree?

“Let me say what I think. I told you the other day. These ones too, they think they can cause a crisis by sabotaging the fuel supply. They’re sabotaging the fuel supply. Whether there is gasoline or not, whether there is ‘Okada’ (motorcycle) or not, whether there is a tricycle or not, we will go and vote and we will win. This is a superior revolution and if I tell you, you’ll know what I mean. You know me, we go there to win,” he said.

Although his minders tried to say that he was not referring to the powers in Abuja, the tenor of his speech did not support their argument.

Nigeria’s governance crisis, argues Peter M. Lewis, Warren Weinstein Chair in African Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), is striking. Ruling elites and public institutions, he posits, “have failed to provide essential collective goods such as physical infrastructure, the rule of law, or legitimate symbols of state authority and political community.”

Unsurprisingly for an inefficient country, Nigeria’s landscape is dotted with ubiquitous queues for basic goods; Fuel, Cash, PVCs.

For the past week, long lines of bank customers have thronged ATMs (ATMs) to pick up the new naira notes; Notes Nigeria’s central bank claims are widely available.

Government failures and the consequent dysfunction of government institutions, including their inability to meet their responsibilities to Nigerians, have over time resulted in endless and unyielding queues of Nigerians seeking access to services to which government agencies make access extremely difficult .

The Bank of England has gradually replaced its paper banknotes with polymer banknotes over a number of years, and in March 2022 the bank was reminding consumers and businesses every six months to revoke legal tender (or WOLTS) status. £20 paper and the £50 paper banknotes on 30 September 2022.

The Nigerian central bank gave citizens just over a month to exchange their old banknotes for new ones.

This confusing difference speaks to the insensitivity of Nigerian state institutions, which see themselves as centers of power and control

Nigeria has become a weak state. Weakness, say Robert I. Rotberg, founding director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s domestic conflict program and president emeritus of the World Peace Foundation, and John Campbell, senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and former US ambassador to Nigeria. is to provide many, but not all, of the essential public goods, the most important of which are safety and security. Unless citizens are protected from harm within national borders, governments cannot provide good governance (the essential services that citizens expect) to their constituents.”

While in most cases it may be difficult to determine whether a state is weak, fragile or failed, this is not the case in Nigeria. It consistently performs poorly on all indicators of state failure (including security, conflict resolution ability, political participation and social service delivery).

At the core of Nigeria’s systemic failures, Obasesam Okoi and MaryAnne Iwara note in an April 2021 article in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, “is the government crisis, manifested in the state’s diminishing ability to cope with a range of problems domestic political and social upheavals. Political leaders are expected to recognize systemic risks such as terrorist attacks, pastoralist conflicts and police brutality and put in place the necessary infrastructure to collect relevant data for problem solving. But the lack of political savvy required to meet the challenges Nigeria faces has sparked unrest across the country and exacerbated existing tensions.”

Nigeria can learn from international action to build a more powerful state and end the snake crisis

Old Notes: Atiku urges extension, says deadline causes hardship

After the onset of the crisis, Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, has called for an extension of the deadline for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to withdraw the old naira banknotes from circulation.

Apex Bank had set January 31 as the deadline by which the old naira notes will cease to be legal tender and insisted it would not extend the deadline.

Also Read:Desperate Nigerians Looking for New Naira Queues at ATMs

Tension ran high across the country as many banks were overflowing with Nigerians wanting to deposit their old naira notes.

Most banks across the country are running low on deposits of the new naira notes a few days before the deadline, prompting the CBN to be asked to extend the date.

Atiku said in a short video posted to social media on Saturday that the deadline is causing difficulties for Nigerians.

The former vice-president noted that currency rebalancing around the world is a normal thing, so the situation in Nigeria is not unusual, but the January 31 deadline is causing trouble for people.

He said: “The ongoing policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria to redesign naira notes has provoked wild reactions across the country and beyond.

“This exercise is a global practice and nothing new, especially as the January 31 deadline approaches, a large number of Nigerians have in good conscience expressed their concern at how the policy and the deadline will make life difficult for Nigerians.

“Many Nigerians, especially farmers, artisans and people in rural areas, do not have bank accounts, so the timeframe for changing old bills into new ones is not feasible.”

He called for an extension of the deadline to meet people’s emergency situation.

“With that in mind, I feel compelled to join the surge in calls for a slight expansion in monetary policy.

“The January 31 deadline will certainly bring great uneasiness to our people, and it will be magnanimous on the part of the government and regulator to lighten the burden on people in the public interest,” he said.

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