Nigeria and Nigerians never cease to amuse me. A Nigerian can stand out as the most brilliant man in a room anywhere in the world, yet we can also set the worst example there is especially at home where anything goes.
The recent naira swap initiative of the CBN is an example of how not to execute a project. We have again made ourselves a joke and a laughing stock to the whole world or wait a minute, could it be a deliberate act?
You can believe all this mess was an error and that the CBN cannot handle a simple assignment. On the other hand, you can believe it is deliberate, which means your sensitive sensor has smelt a rat.
The project we have been told has the approval of the number one citizen of our country. This means that every resource required can be made available to achieve success. The CBN is the owner of the project and the supervisory body of the channels to be used which are the banks. The channels are 100% answerable to it and it can do and undo with them. A master-servant relationship as it were! Since we know that a servant cannot be greater than its master, Nigerians should have no reason to bother – we should expect a seamless transition. Alas, what did we get? Chaos upon chaos and to make matters worse, we see the master washing his hands and saying his servant is to blame. Pilate still has many followers indeed!
The CBN has enough historical information to know it cannot run this project with its two eyes closed. In the past and even now, the master has caught his servant abusing the privilege it has as an intermediary to the forex market – round tripping they call it, so why trust this servant now or was it part of a deliberate act? A servant who lives and dies by seeking rent is being sent to a market far from home to transact business unsupervised! The CBN knows that it should have been more prepared or did they just look the other way knowing that they can get away with murder and that ultimately, they will present the banks as the fall guy – a la James Hadley Chase?
Let us try and do some storytelling. Perhaps it will help Nigerians make up their minds whether all this is a joke, a laughing matter or a deliberate act. Maybe someone will help me to convert this story into a blockbuster film! It’s my devil’s alternative!
I am the governor of the CBN. Naturally, the bulk stops on my table but then hierarchically, I have a subordinate who is in charge of projects. I proceed to call him to discuss the job at hand and then “suggest” that we can do “good business”. He understands and then invites a few “trusted” bank CEOs and gives them their marching orders with “targets” to “deliver”. These banks may also likely get a greater share of the new notes. Everybody is happy with the arrangement and the game begins! The new notes that should get to the public do not reach them. Meanwhile, those who know the way are awash with the new notes while Nigerians are crying every day. The CBN is playing the fool and empathising with the citizenry and blaming the banks. The master blaming the servant is the joke of the century. It is never done in a sane society for the buck does not stop on the servant’s table. The National assembly joins in the firefighting calling for the head of the CBN governor. Meanwhile, the “crazy bald heads” who should be chased out of the town are smiling; their bank balances are growing daily and they are now pricing what was previously a dream to acquire. They continue to hold out and hold us to ransom until their “targets” are met. “We need just a few days more they chorus”.
I as the CBN governor finally agree to go to the lawmakers with a profuse apology. The truth is that what has been done cannot be undone so what was the apology for? Is it a joke, a laughing matter or a deliberate act? Soon normalcy will return. The game is over and the “designated” bank accounts are all green – maybe even dark green. Nigerians will not die, only suffer a bit more and life will go on. Nobody is even fighting for them. They are distracted by the political angle of this nonsense. But then, what about the Bandits who flaunted the new notes on social media – this too does not matter as I can now buy that house in London, Paris or New York.
There will “soon” be good circulation of the new notes. Nigerians will get over their pains. This is how a prominent Nigerian businessman became a billionaire many years ago during the naira devaluation. You eat where you work!
Who is the boss of the CBN governor? Will he just look the other way and allow the beat to go on? The cookies will continue to crumble and soon there is nothing left. Nothing is left of Nigeria and the citizens’ commitment to it. Why should I love a country like this? Why should I act differently when I get there or when it is my turn?
The other side of the coin – my story, is that we have a CBN governor who notwithstanding his experience on the job and his career profile has never done a currency swap. This project is a complex one and he does not have those who will guide him through it. His subordinates all have their hidden agenda and are wishing him to fail so they can replace him.
The politicians too are well-versed in undermining their rivals, so they have oiled their machinery and set up forces against him. He has also underestimated the banks and trusted them to see national ethos as being above filthy lucre. He has miscalculated on several fronts and by the time he got to the deep blue sea, help was nowhere to be found. He now had to paddle himself back to shore and take a trip to the only place where help can be found – inland at the ancient Bayajidda city of Daura.
He found the help he was looking for but the damage has been done and Nigerians are suffering. He has to begin again and find his way back to where he turned back so that all the wrongs he has done in error or ignorance or may I say due to incompetence can be reversed. He has turned himself into a joke or laughing stock but certainly has not acted deliberately in this version of my devil’s alternative.
You will need to decide for yourself whether the CBN governor did not know what to do or whether he did what he wanted to do. Which CBN governor am I? That is why I have suggested his performance is a joke, a laughing matter or a deliberate act. I have my position but I choose to keep it to myself. Maybe I should say – I know which CBN governor I am.
I also know the CBN governor that Nigerians want! They want a CBN governor who is competent and committed to delivering what will make life easy for them. One who will leave no stone unturned to do a job!
Adeoye Oyewo wrote in from Lagos, Nigeria