Frustration, agitation, anger and despair had characterized the season in Nigeria due to the scarcity of cash at the election period. The deadline for the acceptance of old 500 and 1000 naira notes, and limited new ones increased the hardship faced by Nigerians. The botched CBN’s attempt to replace Nigeria’s currency in the buildup to the general elections left many Nigerians unable to purchase products and services, including health treatment. Customers could be seen waiting all day at banks and ATMs to withdraw only enough money but often to no avail.
Market women, artisans and farmers especially in rural areas couldn’t sell their goods and many were forced to sell at a loss. To worsen the matter, POS agents who had access to cash, sold the Naira with exorbitant commission. The crisis added to the woes of surging inflation and a weak currency.
Unfortunately, riots erupted in many places around the country leading to mob attacks on banks. While some banks shut down till further notice, others beefed up security with military personnel mounting every corner of sensitive places. In the midst of all this was the forthcoming election, which many speculated could be marred by further crisis.
In the midst of these unpleasant situations, life must surely continue and people must devise means of surviving. Therefore, we have put together very important ways Nigerians can survive and scale through these difficult times, while also going out to exercise their civic duties.
- Buy things using electronics means
- Store food at home
- Be security conscious
- Have active account in more than one bank
- Cut off all unnecessary expenses
- Don’t keep late nights
One of the things the CBN is trying to achieve is the cashless economy, where Nigerians can transact without carrying cash around. Although people don’t have access to cash, it doesn’t mean they don’t have money in their bank accounts. While queues in the banks haven’t reduced, many have resulted in making purchases through electronic and online payments such as bank transfer, POS, USSD and other electronic means. A Nigerian banking report shows the volume of electronic payments has surged following cash shortages. The Nigeria Interbank Settlement System says transactions increased by 55% in January alone. What is good news is that many traders and vendors are beginning to accept online transfers through bank transfers or use of the POS machines.
Food is one of the essential needs of life, so it is important to stock up enough at this time. Since some vendors in market places are beginning to adopt the cashless culture, it is important to leverage this in buying needed food stuff at home, especially staple food. In view of the unpredictable nature of the election which could lead to many markets not opening, it is advisable for people to buy food that will be enough to sustain them during the election period. Importantly, prices of goods are likely to surge, so buying them in bulk helps save a lot.
Over the years, elections in Nigeria have been known to be marred with violence, as opposition parties and dissidents often take violent paths to state their displeasure. Although the Federal Government is ensuring maximum security at all voting polling units, one cannot underestimate the potency of agitations, riots and uproars. Therefore, it is important to maintain security consciousness especially at the polling units. People are encouraged not to argue with supporters of opposition parties, wearing branded caps and shirts of parties should also be avoided. For those with cash, it isn’t advisable to carry cash around as this can invite thieves, robbers and pick-pockets.
Shop owners, supermarkets and petty traders should also be watchful of people who might want to steal from them at this time. Credit alerts and cash should also be well scrutinized to avoid accepting fake alerts and fake naira notes.
One of the challenges faced by Nigerians who have followed the cashless path is frequent failed bank transfers and POS transactions, especially from traditional banks. This difficulty faced by traditional banks is due to the high number of customer base, and irregularities of networks. Neo-banks run by fintech companies have also been helpful with financial solutions. A neo-bank is a type of direct bank that operates exclusively online without traditional physical branch networks. Common Neo-banks in Nigeria are OPay, PalmPay, Kuda Bank, VFD Microfinance bank, Fair Money, etc. To make sure that one isn’t stranded, it is advisable to open more than one bank account, especially with neo-banks. This will enable seamless financial transactions.
Cut off all unnecessary expenditure:
This isn’t the best time to spend frivolously due to the various financial issues in the country. It is important to have a budget of every expense to be made and eliminate all forms of impulse spending. Budgeting allows you to create a spending plan for your money, which ensures that you will always have enough money for the things you need and the things you don’t need.
Don’t keep late at night:
Again, this bothers on security issues in the country, as dissidents and thugs may want to cause mayhem and riots. More so, security agents like the military would be deployed especially to hot regions of the country and will often operate at night to prevent perpetrators of evil and chaos. You don’t want to be found loitering aimlessly. It is also advisable to move around with a valid I.D Card.