The people of this country have been compelled to live under excruciating pains occasioned, mainly, by the contrived crisis in the petroleum sector. Nigerians have been at the mercy of the unscrupulous elements in the distribution chain who have sustained the artificial scarcity of the product since late last year.
The unsavoury sight of the past has not only resurfaced in all the major cities of the country. It is also eroding the goodwill enjoyed by the Federal Government for the stability achieved in the past seven years.
Nigerians have been living with scarcity of petroleum products for some time now. Fuel scarcity, a phenomenon which this current Administration had once confined to the dustbin in the chronicle of happenings in an inglorious past, has suddenly assumed a permanent feature of our daily existence and there appears to be no solution to the perennial crisis.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, through his Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who purports to act under the powers conferred on the institution by the CBN Act, has chosen this period, when the country prepares for general elections, to redesign the currency notes for sundry reasons, chief among which is the need for the bank to be in control of the currency notes in circulation and checkmate the unwholesome activities of terrorists and their enablers and election riggers.
The struggles and actual fights recorded in banking halls, ATM and POS points, and markets across the country are disquieting. The choice of this period for the implementation of a policy, which bears an instant negative impact with no discernible mitigation in sight, raises serious suspicion of partisanship on the part of the CBN. The ordinary people are the victims. Depositors can no longer access their monies even to feed their families. Hunger is not the anticipated result of a monetary policy.
While no reasonable person will contend with the decision of the CBN to discharge its statutory functions, the plight of the downtrodden must, however, be considered. Majority of Nigerians groan, at present, under the crushing weight of these crises. There is pervasive discontent in the land and unless some urgent redemptive steps are taken to ameliorate the debilitating effects of seeming desultory and nonchalant disruptions of their normal simple lives, a series of events with unpleasant consequences is inevitable.
There is palpable anger engendered by frustration in the land. The wave of discontent increases with unbelievable rapidity across the country. The current hardship being experienced by the ordinary people forebodes unpleasant consequences. These crises may set in motion a chain of events the end of which is better imagined.
The Federal Government must make a categorical pronouncement on the availability of petrol and its price since it is the general belief that the country still pays humongous amounts as subsidy. A situation which permits a few individuals to inflict pains on the populace, seemingly without check, is deplorable. The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, must come clean on the new monetary policy. Nigerians are practically buying the country’s currency to feed when we are not in a state of war.
The fact that the ruling party hopes to present candidates for election in the general elections in the coming weeks accentuates the level of suspicion as regards the possibility of having certain elements whose interests stand at variance with the general aspirations of the party and its committed members.
There is no better way to de-market a brand than this ruthless execution of a pernicious motive.
The Federal Government, through the President, must act now.
Arakunrin Oluwarotimi O. Akeredolu, SAN, CON
Governor, Ondo State.