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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Nigeria: Lines of thought and feeling

That isn’t the kind of country we dream of as citizens, from the east to the north, south, and west, through the capital city of the country, too many places have closed down and been disrupted.

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By Aliyu Isa Ciroma

It is a new dawn in the knocks and creeks of the country, from soaring prices of goods and commodities to the discovery of oil in the northern region. It is as if all the tension and fear of the past have been suspended with these myriad uncertainties, it is now time for a new dawn. From the back benches, the future looks anything but rosy.

How vast were the needs for changing some naira notes? The crowding thought and the need to change the notes have brought mixed feelings across the country. Voices from every range and every outreach are sharing their thought on this decision. People at the lower level will think, about what could be the benefit of this decision.

Our economy is descending like a pyramid from above, from the view we caught across the economic sectors. On the other side, the political atmosphere is in turbulence, with campaigns ragging the atmosphere. The time to listen keenly to the unfulfilled promises which become our culture, not of humanity, but of human character. These were joined together by numerous feelings that outrage the face of humanity. The human population keeps increasing without magnitude, with the statistic index showing rapid growth with an estimation of 8 billion. Likewise, statistics report dimensional poverty, 133 million of the 200 million are in Nigeria. Our GDP keeps dwindling and if we continue in this passion, they are the possibility of less food to eat, and less land to farm, which we are now seeing a practical experience from the flood incidence that occurred across some states.

Chinua Achebe in his book, the trouble with Nigeria said, “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership”. Unfortunately, the trouble with Nigeria is not only a failure of leadership but the character, the land, the climate, and even the air we breathe. Nigeria now has tremendous problems that need to be addressed urgently.

I am not in any way trying to recommend the qualities of a good leader which we all know, but we can change our story by rewriting our history. We have traveled through a difficult terrain over the years, a journey of cruelty, grief, disappointment, loss, and whatever you mention it. The country had been in trouble since independence, like other African countries.

That isn’t the kind of country we dream of as citizens, from the east to the north, south, and west, through the capital city of the country, too many places have closed down and been disrupted. Hunger and starvation have hit the populace. Goods and food items are at a high cost, a middle-class family cannot afford the three-square meals. Some children are at home because their families cannot afford to send them to school. Check the statistics of out-of-school children in the country, as of October this year, about 20 million children are out of school. Those are problems that need urgent intervention, not the changing of the new “colored naira” notes.

My problem Is not the changing of the notes, but how much was spent to carry out the project. Things are very difficult and there doesn’t seem to be any plan to alleviate the burdens. The people at the lower levels are not the ones hoarding the currency. Tracing back to history, in 1968 there were reports of currency abuse and trafficking as a result of the war. The government choose to change the currency to render those looted on the other side of the war. The currency was redesigned again in 1973 with the creation of the naira, which took the same value as the Nigeria pound, and in 1977 N20 naira note was created. In 1978, N1, N5, and N10 notes were created with different colors. Then in 1984, the government decided to change all the currency colors. In 1991, N100 debuted and in 2000, the N200 note was created while the N500 note was in 2001. In 2005, the N1000 note was created and now in 2022, N200, N500, and N1000 note currency colors were changed. The idea behind redesigning those notes from time to time is risk management. The naira had lost value against the dollar. But the CBN should take some bold steps so that they will not be easily manipulated. The naira redesign has multiple implications and is not only about operational counterfeiting issues, but an opportunity to establish a better trajectory for the naira in terms of its value. The CBN needs to take some bodecisionsion to bridge the gaps and enlighten the citizens more on this decision.

My worry was the future of the country at the moment. The fear is more of an unknown route we have been navigating and most don’t care to admit it. We would talk about the Economy, Education, Security, and Health, bring our thoughts, and counsel experts if there might be some possibility of a fishy sensation lurking somewhere between the grid lines of our dreams. Although we have a lot of thoughts and feelings that our little stomach cannot fight, we could not be sure.

Throughout the years of COVID 19 when the world was in full disruption, every country was in a race to make things better and have a conducive atmosphere. A lot had made effort and are still doing the needful, then we should access ourselves, where are we heading? Although there were increasing signs that the pandemic has cost some losses that cannot be inevitable. But we can process some strategic alternatives that will work for us.

But even if most of us believe things can change for good, we need to put this at the back of our minds that the journey of transformation must be rooted in patience, which is the anchor that will take us to a safer place that we will land at the harbor, where we can sip from the shores and have a shade that will beckon our souls.

The country became independent in 1960, and the vast majority of the population of the new republic is under the hot sun, even the shad is hot, we have been sipping from the political climate over the years, but our thirst is yet to quench. We are alwhopingping for heavy rain that will wash away our pains and sorrows, and create a new atmosphere that will be conducive for humanity. It’s time to take charge of our future and decide the kind of future we want for ourselves and the generations to come.

Aliyu Isah Chiroma is a poet, essayist and freelance journalist. He lives in Bauchi.

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