Cash crunch, hunger and confusion overshadow Nigeria vote


On the last day of campaigning, politics is the furthest thing from a lot of Nigerians’ minds.

In the upmarket neighbourhood of Victoria Island, there are long lines outside several banks on Adeola Adeku, a major commercial road.

Those in line look weary and tired, some have been waiting for hours. Others are angry.

Outside one branch, people start shouting and jostling when the security guards asks them to step back from the gates.

“The country is in confusion,” shouts someone from a passing car.

A young man asks me if I have any cash at all as he hasn’t got money to get to work and hasn’t eaten in days.

There’s an acute cash shortage as a result of the Central Bank‘s decision to redesign the country’s currency, the naira, late last year.

People are now spending hours outside banks trying to get their hands on the newly designed currency, which has been scarce.

It’s hard to predict how the cash shortage will impact Saturday’s polls.

There are fears some may not have enough cash to travel back to the areas where they first registered to vote.

But the anger generated by the botched new cash roll-out could also propel voters to turn up at the ballot and have their voices heard.

They’ll want the next president not only to end the crisis, but also to tackle the country’s ailing economy.

Since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power eight years ago, unemployment has quadrupled.

Inflation is now at 21% and food inflation is higher still.

The price of many staples like rice and oil has doubled in Lagos’ markets in the past year. Nigeria’s next leader will have a long to-do list.


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