Naira scarcity grounds support for beggars

…as Nigerians struggle to get daily cash needs

The persistent naira scarcity in Africa’s biggest economy is grounding support for beggars in the country as benevolent assistance from individuals and organisations are fast disappearing.

BusinessDay spoke with beggars in Ketu, Agege, Mushin, and Apapa who said the rate at which they receive support from individuals and organisations has been grounded by the naira scarcity across the country.

“I usually get between N3,000 and N5,000 as support from individuals daily. But since the naira scarcity became severe I haven’t gotten up to N100 daily. I didn’t even get anything for three consecutive days,” Salisu Mohammed, a disabled beggar at Ketu.

“This is because of the scarcity of naira. People don’t have enough cash so how can they give from the little that is not even enough for them?” he asked.

He pleaded with the president to address the naira scarcity issue in the country, noting that lots of people are being affected by the scarcity.

In December 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria launched the currency redesigned programme aimed at tackling inflation and mopping up excess liquidity outside the banking system.

But the naira redesigned policy is hurting individuals and businesses, especially those that are heavily cash-reliant, BusinessDay’s findings show.

The persistent scarcity has opened up a naira black market where Nigerians now pay to get cash, making it increasingly difficult for people to give out cash.

Also, the scarcity is forcing Nigerians to increasingly embrace the use of electronic payment platforms as the old notes expired.

The movement of Nigerians to digital payments and the absence of cash means that individuals cannot easily support beggars who mostly do not have bank accounts.

According to a 2021 World Bank latest global findex report, almost 56 percent of Nigerians are unbanked.

“The rate at which people were giving us money was reducing daily before, but the naira scarcity has dried it up completely,” a beggar who simply gave his name as Idris said.

“I have only seen the new N200 note with someone but I haven’t even touched it because nobody is giving us money again. Not because Nigerians have stopped being good but because of the naira scarcity problem,” he said.

According to him, the situation is not just affecting beggars alone but the entire country. “The situation is affecting everybody and nobody is doing anything about it.”

He called on the government and the Central Bank to supply the new naira to the economy so that well meaningful Nigerians can continue to support the less privileged in the country.

“Most of us do not have an account and now the government wants everybody to be doing transactions online.” “Nobody is thinking of beggars and other less privileged people in society.”

Mariam Yusuf, a beggar with three children at Ketu bus stop said it has been really difficult for her to feed her children these past weeks owing to the naira scarcity.

“No money anywhere because of the naira scarcity. Nobody can afford to give you even N100 because they don’t know where they will see the next cash,” Yusuf said.

“You go to the bank, there is no money, you go to the ATM, and there is no money. Now, the situation is worse because people are no longer collecting the old notes,” she added.

Since the deadline exceeded for old naira notes the naira situation has worsened and might escalate to social unrest across the country.

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