When people, Nigerians look up to for information and economic direction takes to the gallery to deliberately misinform and peddle unverifiable statistics for their selfish agenda to the detriment of the nation and her economy, one ponders where hope lies for the country.
Statements emanating lately from some former and incumbent notable public officers on the challenged economy leave much to be desired. One gets the impression that they are either working a script written by their pay-masters (local and foreign) to destabilize the economy or foot soldiers in an enterprise of pull-him-down at all cost. What is their agenda?
Many of those who speak now are alleged to have looted this country dry, appropriated our commonwealth to themselves and their families (present revelations of wanton looting by past government officials attest to this), and efforts being made by some patriotic Nigerians to give Nigeria a new beginning are being frustrated just to please their pay-masters, forgetting that it is Nigeria’s future they are mortgaging for a mash of porridge.
This brings me to the unguarded and unsubstantiated public statement made by a former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia at the opening of a 3-day public hearing on the 2017 budget appropriation process at the National Assembly on the topic: ‘Public Finance in the context of Economic Recession: Innovative options’. The respected political economist, whom I have a great respect for however, missed the point in his outburst that 20% of Naira in circulation is fake. As a former top player in the monetary formulation policy of this country, his views about the economy and its monetary policy are bound to have grave impact on the economy.
One wonders what the motive of Dr. Mailafia could have been to have prompted him to churn out such unsubstantiated data he churned out at the public hearing, knowing the challenges being faced by the economy and the legal tender currency.
By alleging that 20 per cent of cash in possession of Nigerians are fake, what was the former deputy governor of the CBN seeking to achieve? Was he constructively contributing to the subject of the public hearing, or came to settle scores with his perceived foes in the CBN?
No country in the world is immune to currency counterfeiting, and whatever scientific proof at the disposal of Mailafia on his claim should be made available to the public. As a concerned Nigerian, even if the ex-deputy governor had such proof, I believe he has unfettered access to the Bank to discuss with its management, which is dignifying than such outburst. It smacks of malice which ordinarily he would not have welcomed when he was still at the CBN.
As Dr. Mailafia may already know, currency counterfeiting is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is a global phenomenon. Between 2012 and 2014 alone Australia recorded 10.2 counterfeit currency notes per million. Canada and Mexico in the same period are reported to have recorded 28 and 33.7 counterfeit notes per million, respectively. India in 2012 recorded 8 counterfeit notes per million.
If Dr. Mailafia was not on a mischievous enterprise, a dash to the CBN would have availed him of the true data on what he publicly misinformed the citizens.
As gleaned from the CBN website on Wednesday, 15th February, 2017, the Bank did not grandstand nor deny Naira being faked, as no currency in the world is immune from criminal tendencies of its citizenry. Luckily, the Bank has disclosed that counterfeiting Naira has been made near impossible due to policies it put in place. According to the Bank its records from January to December 2016 showed that less than 1% (0.0014%) or 14 counterfeit pieces out of one million bank notes.
At a time the government is calling for every hand to be on deck to pull up the economy from its low levels, one finds it really curious that a former high ranking official of the CBN would voice damaging claims about the authenticity of 20 per cent of the naira currency in circulation. The implication of such utterances could further worsen the fate of the Naira. His utterance could cause investors and citizens to lose confidence in our currency and economy the government is trying to rebuild. His outburst as a former Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, has the potential to halt every effort of the government and the CBN in ensuring financial stability.
Watching the video clip of the public hearing, it was apparent that Dr. Mailafia either got carried away or was as excited by the caliber of people at the gathering as his comment did not have much to do with the subject of discussion. What would have warranted such public upbraid against an institution that made him. More so of person, who had occupied such an exalted position in the country?
The damage done to the economy since making the unguarded statement cannot be quantified. If it was meant to raise peoples’ awareness on the criminal activities of currency counterfeiters and quality of the Naira notes in their purses, he has missed it. There are better and more dignified ways of conveying good counsel across to the CBN management. If pursuing an ambition is what propelled him, the amiable Dr. Mailafia I know may have been deluded to ply this infamous highway.
The Central Bank of Nigeria is saddled constitutionally with regulating and moderating all financial institutions in the land, and thus equipped like any other central bank globally, with an intelligence unit charged with the responsibility of monitoring and managing threats to the integrity of the Naira. Dr. Mailafia knows this. He was part of the system.
Joy Nguri, wrote in from Numan, Adamawa State.
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