The cash crisis in Nigeria continues to worsen, with the central bank’s currency policy having a severe and devastating impact on the people of Benue State. As a result, traders in Benue have had to resort to barter trade in order to make ends meet. This is an unprecedented situation for the state, and has resulted in the Nigerian Supreme Court being asked to reconsider the policy. On March 3, the court will make a judgement on a suit against this policy, which could bring relief to residents of Benue State. But until then, bartering has become the new currency amongst traders in Benue.
Bartering is the New Currency
The cash crisis in Benue, Nigeria is leading to businesses resorting to barter trade in order to stay afloat. This has been caused by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira redesign policy which requires residents to exchange their old currency for the new redesigned notes. In response to this, Atiku Abubakar and other Nigerian politicians have pleaded for an extension beyond December 31st 2020 for the old notes. However, the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari has only agreed to an extension for the 200-naira banknote.
This cash crisis has had a particularly significant impact on small businesses such as Felix Uwakwe, a foodstuffs trader. For Uwakwe, trading goods instead of obtaining the exact money due to the lack of the new redesigned notes has become a necessary solution in order to keep his business running. He explains: “I don’t have any other option than to do barter trade or just forget my money.”
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation for Benue State residents as many are struggling with this new currency regulation. As a result, many businesses have been forced out of business and unemployment levels have soared as people struggle to make ends meet.
Consequently, there are growing calls for government intervention in order to address this crisis and help small businesses stay afloat. The hope is that with proper intervention from both the federal and state governments, the cash crisis will soon be resolved and people can return to their normal lives.
CBN Urged to Ease Cash Crisis in Benue State
With cash becoming increasingly scarce in Benue State, there have been growing calls for Nigerian government intervention. According to a statement released by the Director General of Benue State Internal Revenue Service, Uwakwe Abugu, “We urge the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to consider issuing more new naira banknotes. We understand that the naira is facing a severe shortage due to hoarding and speculation. However, this should not stop them from issuing new notes as this would help ease the cash crisis in the state.”
This sentiment was echoed by businesswoman Grace Ordah who said, “I am an entrepreneur and I rely heavily on cash transactions to keep my business afloat. I implore the Nigerian government to heed the calls to rescind their currency policies. This is necessary to restore access to cash and mitigate the current hardship faced by businesses in Benue State.”
The public outcry and calls for action shows no sign of abating anytime soon. On March 3, the Nigerian Supreme Court will make its ruling in a case challenging the naira redesign policy which has been blamed for exacerbating the cash shortage in many parts of Nigeria. Until then, businesses across Benue State are resorting to barter trade as a means of staying afloat in these difficult times.
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The Nigerian cash crisis has had a large impact on the people of Benue State, many of whom have been left with little choice but to resort to barter trade as a means of survival. The CBN must take urgent action to help ease the cash crisis and ensure that sufficient funds are available to those who need them. The government and the CBN must also improve financial literacy and access to financial services among Benue State residents in order to help them transition out of the cash crisis and back to a more secure financial position. It is the only way to ensure the people of Benue State are able to secure their future and maintain their way of life.