Painful effects of the Nigerian cash crisis: "Everything is just tough"
Painful effects of the Nigerian cash crisis:

Abuja: In Godgift, nobody With the exception of her three children, two of whom have malaria, Inemesit's family of eight knows exactly when they will eat each day. She is unable to provide the rest of her family with regular meals or the necessary medications.

The family's savings are confined to the bank, like the majority of Nigerians. Just before a presidential election, the transition to new currency has put Africa's largest economy into crisis because there aren't enough new banknotes in a cash-only nation.

The 28-year-old Inemesit's lack of funds forces her to cut back on even necessities like food and medicine for her husband, mother, children ages 4 to 8, and two other relatives. Recently, only the kids had received bread and hot beverages.

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We used to eat three square meals, but now we only eat once occasionally because there isn't any money to buy food, Inemesit said in her home in Banana village, a squalid slum tucked away in the southern reaches of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

She explained, "We were instructed to deposit the old currency (notes) in the bank and that new one is coming. "However, neither the new nor the old currencies are available. Everything is just challenging.

Customers spend the entire day in line at ATMs and banks to withdraw just enough money, known as naira, to get by for the day. Angry customers have attacked bank employees, fights have broken out in the bank halls, and protesters have set financial institutions on fire. Businesses that are unable to transact have been forced to  close, and people are illegally selling new currency notes at higher rates.

The impact is likely to extend to the presidential election on February 25 as people become more desperate for money. Nigerians want to elect a leader who can address issues like the economy's problems and the security crisis that has claimed thousands of lives in the last year.

The International Crisis Group, which works to prevent conflict, stated that the lack of money "has already created significant hardship, which could make a greater number of voters vulnerable to vote-buying and ratchet up election tensions even further."

President Muhammadu Buhari, who will leave office in May after serving his full term, said he gave the Central Bank of Nigeria the go-ahead to "deploy all legitimate resources and legal means" to ensure that people "enjoy easy access to  cash withdrawal.”

He continued to defend the changes while saying, "I am deeply saddened and sincerely sympathise with you all over these unintended consequences.
Experts hold policymakers accountable for the "hurried" rollout of the new naira notes. Godwin Emefiele, the head of the central bank, claimed that some government representatives are "buying the new notes and storing them for whatever purposes."

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The redesigned currency, according to the central bank, would fight over 21% inflation, a 17-year high, prevent money laundering before the election, and make West Africa a cashless society. After years of steadily declining voter turnout, Inemesit claimed that she, along with many others, had begun to lose interest in the election. This dashed hopes for increased voter turnout.

When she cast her ballot for president in 2019, only 34% of eligible voters did so. However, as the election this year approaches, her vote and hopes for a better nation have been dashed.

"Given the situation we are in right now, I don't intend to vote again. How will you be able to vote when you don't have the energy to walk to the polling place? she asked.
In Nigeria, where 63 percent of the population lives in poverty, 33 percent is unemployed, and only 45 percent of adults had a bank account as of 2021, the cash shortages have made life even more challenging. The problems of soaring inflation and a depreciating currency have been made worse by the crisis.

The top three candidates for president of Nigeria have vowed to bring about democratic change. Bola Tinubu, the leader of the ruling party, has stated that he wants to "renew hope," while Atiku Abubakar, the leader of the main opposition party, wants to "rescue" Nigeria. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who is currently leading the crowded field in polls, has pledged to "rebuild" the nation.

According to Joachim MacEbong, a senior governance analyst at Stears, a Nigerian intelligence firm, the lack of access to cash has impacted small and medium-sized businesses' consumption and trade patterns. The informal sector is a significant employer and includes farming, street and market trade, and public transportation.

Digital transactions increased by 150% last year as a result of the central bank's long-running campaign to make the economy cashless. However, a lot of companies now only accept paper naira due to the unreliability of digital payment systems.

"Restricting access to cash has far more negative effects than positive ones," MacEbong said.

People are making decisions at ATMs that they never would have thought possible: Sunny Eze, a father of two, was starving but was holding onto his meagre savings in case he needed it for transportation. For roughly 10 hours, Esther Ugoing to waited in line to withdraw 10,000 naira ($22). Nasir Yusuf shut down his business for the day and spent his time attempting to get the necessary cash withdrawal.

In contrast, Inemesit waited in line one day last week until 8 p.m. and went home empty-handed. She was informed, along with many others, that the bank branch was out of fresh currency.

She said, frustrated and dejected, "If someone were to tell me I can have the money but I cannot use the money, I would not believe it." She had $3,680 in her bank account, which meant that "you have the money, but you cannot see it."

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As Nigerians with limited resources prioritise food over other needs, the family's income from selling bags, such as luggage and backpacks, has drastically decreased.

People won't stop feeding their families to go buy bags, the woman said.
Inemesit is currently too exhausted and irate from the crisis to consider the upcoming presidential election.

The government did a terrible job of failing us. They let us down," she said, grabbing her loudly coughing 4-year-old. "Things are difficult, and prices have been rising everywhere,"


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