Nigerians to Elect New President Tomorrow Amid Cash, Fuel Crises

February 24, 2023
35 million Nigerians

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigerians will, on Saturday, February 25, vote for a person to replace President Muhammadu Buhari for at least the next four years.

The election has been tagged by analysts and observers as one of the most crucial since the country returned to democratic rule almost 24 years ago.

It will also be the seventh straight election that Africa’s largest economy will be holding following the emergence of Mr Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2003, 2003-2007), late Mr Umaru Musa Yara’dua (2007-2010), Mr Goodluck Jonathan (2011-2015), and incumbent Mr Buhari (2015-2019, 2019-2023).

As Nigerians head to the polls, they are doing this amid a double whammy of cash crunch and fuel scarcity, which are making Nigeria’s high multidimensional poverty population feel the heat.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had last year introduced a new policy that involves the conversion of old higher denomination notes to new ones, which has left the average Nigerian scrambling to find cash to buy food and pay for transport.

Proponents say that the policy is good because it has led to an increase in the use of electronic channels, but Business Post independently verified that the electronic channels had witnessed downtime that has left many stranded.

On the other hand, critics have said the policy was not good since poverty is rife and many Nigerians need cash to do daily transactions.

Regardless of calls from several quarters to reverse the policy, President Buhari says no going back but instead allowed the use of old N200 notes but remained adamant on the N500 and N1,000.

This has seen large swathes of crowds at banks, where banks cap their withdrawal limits. Wema Bank in the Idimu area capped its cash withdrawal at N5,000 while some others put theirs at N10,000 daily.

For Point-of-Sale (POS) operators, there is a biting scarcity with a cap of N2,000 per transaction accompanied by a 10 to 20 per cent charge, and in some areas, this goes as high as 35 per cent of the withdrawn amount.

Also, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, is once again in short supply even as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited claims that there are 1.805 billion litres of petrol in stock, enough to last for 30 days.

“For March 2023, a total of 2.3 billion litres of petrol is expected, while about 2.5 billion litres, equivalent to 42 days sufficiency, will be the closing stock for the month,” a spokesperson of the state oil company stated.

However, Nigerians have to brace queues and pay higher for the commodity, which currently sells at around N280 per litre in most filling stations.

These are among issues like insecurity, piling debt, and worsening inflation that the next president will face.

To inherit these could be any of the front runners, which include Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who has led in several opinion polls and garnered support from youths; Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with a loyal fanbase in the Southwest; serial runner Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and Mr Rabiu Kwakwanso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), a former Kano state governor where he is highly regarded.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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