The Valentine season, the acclaimed global celebration of love, which comes up on February 14 every year, will lose its verve, splash and colour this year in Nigeria, following the acute shortage of cash brought on by the cash swap exercise.
The cash swap follows on the introduction of new N1,000, N500 and N200 denomination of currency notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN and the unprecedented bottlenecks and difficulties trailing the process.
This in itself has seen banking halls and automated teller machines (ATMs) running out of cash, leading to the emergence of a naira black market which has seen the naira attracting illicit commissions of up to N2,000 for the acquisition of N10,000 and so on and so forth., while prices of goods and services have spiraled somewhat.
Lovebirds, and potential wait-to-catch sweethearts are on the verge of losing their long-nursed relationships because of their inability to meet the financial demands associated with the Valentine’s day celebration. Lavish gifts and clothing decked in red, the signature colour of the celebration are typically exchanged at this time, backed by social outings by couples to eateries and other fun spots to mark the event.
These love protocols cost money though and and cash at this time is hard to find.
“To be honest with you, it is going to be very hard celebrating Valentine’s day this year. Even thinking of Valentine is very difficult because of the problems of the naira and fuel scarcity we are facing now”, said Toyin a young middle class Nigerian in Benin.
For her part, Patricia says :“Fuel prices are high, money is hard to get. All these have increased prices of other goods and services, including intra and inter-state transportation. So, my mind is off the issue of Valentine, not to talk of even celebrating it”.
“Last year, the celebration was better, I went out with my loved ones, and we had a nice time. There was money and fuel, so we didn’t find it difficult to celebrate despite the issue of insecurity here and there. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to revise this currency policy to make life easier for the common man. Government and banks should allow people to access their money freely in the banks for now”, Innocent lamented
Also, from the celebrity side, some of the Nigeria artists took to their social media handles to talk about how the naira redesign stopped some of their shows and activities, as per having a regular show like they would do last year and has made some of them not to organize a show for this Valentine season.
Some relationships could be affected, because either partner may not be able to buy Valentine’s gifts for the other party.