Sanusi’s Cashless Encumbrance
Adeolu C. Alupogun-Iran
Euphoria is part of every process especially those that advent a new era, it spurs the people, however, it could as well be delusive if caution is not applied. Vision 20-2020 was adopted by the federal government of Nigeria, a fanciful economic programme for rapid national development; its approval signaled an ambience, a new dawn! Crucial in the scheme of things is the implementation of the cashless policy of the government, if Nigeria’s dream of joining 20 most industrialized nations is to be achieved. Apparently, many questions beg for answers. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is quite vehement to ensure Nigeria transits to a cashless society.
As practiced in other countries where cashless systems have succeeded, Nigeria built a unique positive penalty clause into its cashless project to ensure full compliance. A feature which penalizes individual and corporate bodies account holders for deposit or withdrawal beyond Central Bank of Nigeria set limit. We live in a society so devoid of tracking system, where there is little or no sense of accountability. How are we sure the penalty clause is not another ruse to enrich financial institutions like it was with previous policies. The time is past when Nigerian government could bamboozle people with new policies without securing all loose ends to forestall people from taking undue advantage of the system.
How the nation’s Automated Teller Machines fare? You asked! Oh it jumps at you; “sorry this machine is currently unable to dispense cash, please visit our nearest branch,” no one can imagine the depth of frustration at this point. Most often users’ cards are stuck in the machine this is worse than not being able to withdraw cash. Nigeria banks grapple with service delivery, with no end in sight. This initiative, which is a pilot programme for cashless system, it is far from perfect. Yet the optimist in Nigerians, hope it will get better someday.
Point of sale service PoS is the nexus of cashless system. The absence of this essential service in most shopping malls and other business outlets in Lagos State, the nursery bed for cashless Nigeria is an indication of the level of unpreparedness on our part as a nation. The CBN is garnering all efforts to ensure a cashless system while ancillary agencies like Nigerian Custom Service through its high import tariff on the importation of PoS Terminal into the country obviously slowdown the effort of the CBN. This evidently brings to bear the lack of unity of purpose in the system- one reason Nigeria remains backward.
Cashless Nigeria signaled a society where all homes are well connected to internet facility; therefore you can place order and pay for services online without involving physical cash, but where is the power supply or the internet facilities that would provide the service? Access to this service is expensive in a country like Nigeria where the minimum wage is a stipend for a school boy. A society where an average salary earner cannot afford a set of computer, additional internet bill would simply be considered a burden. Is the pessimist out for hang, no! But he wants to know why Nigerian economy is continually used as a laboratory rat in the hand of known geniuses, who are in dire need of experiment.
If you are a good observer of government’s magic policy as regard transforming the economy, you would recall that propagation of “education for all by the year 2000” was once a slogan during Babangida’s Military government. As a matter of fact, it was a burning issue on government’s agenda that by year 2000, every Nigeria youth would have basic access to quality education. If this policy has been achieved, illiteracy wouldn’t have been a challenge to Lamido’s cashless policy. How would 67% of Nigerian illiterate population transact business without carrying cash? Where do they belong in this cashless arrangement? If our ATM has ceased to dispense low denominations [#50, #100, #200, #500] and customers cannot pay for goods less than #1000 using PoS at some shopping malls, has the cashless policy not limit itself and out rightly displaced the poor!
The question is can Nigeria transit to a cashless society without those essential features contained in the 20-2020 blueprints? No! There are many indices that signal the actualization of Nigeria Cashless society as a tall dream built on sand which of course, will not stand the test of time. Our problem as a nation is not the absence of brilliant ideas or lack of aspiration to replicate good model from other land but lack of courage to build structures that will serve as foundation for policies that ultimately will drive social, economic, and national growth. The absence of these institutions cast every good policy in bad light.
This article is being published by Nigeria SPUR Magazine