Residents of Ogun State kept this year’s Easter celebration low-key.
The development is not unconnected to the cashless policy which stretched citizens.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, got President Muhammadu Buhari’s nod to implement the policy in order to strengthen the economy, reduce inflation and tame vote buying during the just-concluded general elections.
But to Nigerians who were at the receiving end of the much condemned decision, the policy aggravated their sufferings, making them poorer.
Until March 13, when the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and directed them that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes should remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023, Nigerians faced severe suffering.
This affected the Easter celebration, with many people staying put in their homes.
In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, there was poor purchasing power among prospective buyers.
Unlike in the past, traders were disappointed with the level of patronage.
“The market traders are the worst hit, we have lost all our customers to stores and malls. Most of us do not accept payments by credit cards or transfers. So, buyers who could not get cash would rather go to those stores to buy things and pay with their cards.
“So, for us, this Easter is not like the previous ones in terms of buying and selling,” Mrs Joy Alaba told DAILY POST correspondent at Lafenwa, Abeokuta.
At motorparks across the metropolis, it was observed that there are not enough passengers as there used to be during the period of Easter.
A driver, who identified himself simply as Kamor, disclosed that some people no longer travel because they could not access cash.
Kamor stated that some do come to parks to inquire whether they could be allowed to pay fares by transfer.
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“Many of our drivers don’t have bank accounts, so there is no way they would accept transfers from passengers. This cashless policy is why most people are not travelling for Easter.
“As you can see, everywhere is dry. People have learnt to stay in their homes since the commencement of this Emefiele policy. That’s why the motorparks are without the usual Easter rush. By now, our people would have increased the fares, but I don’t see that happening this year,” he said.
Bukola Ajeigbe, a lady, blamed the CBN and Buhari “for deliberately inflicting hardship on Nigerians through the cashless policy”, which she said had impoverished Nigerians further.
Ajeigbe lamented that many people lost their sources of livelihood with the cashless policy, saying that its aftermath is why the atmosphere did not indicate there is Easter celebration ongoing at the moment.
However, she said Jesus has risen and Nigerians should strive to rise again from whatever the present administration might have plunged them into.
“Nigeria will rise again,” she said, strengthening the hope of the hopeless.
Meanwhile, as Nigerians await a new government on May 29, 2023, the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, has asked Nigerians not to lose hope in the nation, urging them to be patriotic.
In his Easter message, Tinubu said: “We will make faster progress towards the achievement of the peaceful, united, strong, progressive and prosperous country we all desire if we eschew divisive, parochial, ethnic and religious sentiments and rivalries, and begin to live more harmoniously with our compatriots.
“Easter is about Renewed Hope and Redemption. It symbolises the triumph of hope over despair, love over hate and condemnation, and optimism over cynicism. Let us embrace this spirit and recommit ourselves to edifying and patriotic pursuits in the interest of our nation.”