The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced additional charges on deposits and withdrawals from individual bank accounts in the country. In a circular issued to all deposit money banks on Tuesday, the CBN said the new charges on depositors apply to those in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, Rivers state and the FCT effective Wednesday, 18 Septembre. The new charges would be in addition to existing charges on withdrawal, the circular signed by the Director, Payments System Management Department at the CBN, Sam Okojere, read. Three percent processing fees would be paid for withdrawals and two percent for deposits of amounts above ₦500,000 for individual accounts, while corporate accounts will attract five percent processing fees for withdrawals and three percent processing fee for lodgments of amounts above ₦3 million. The CBN said this move is aimed at implementing its cashless policy which will take effect all over the country from 31 March 2020, and enhance the collection of applicable government revenues.

The withdrawal of Nigerian soldiers into “super camps”, under a new strategy in August, has left Islamic State West Africa Province militants free to set up checkpoints on roads as they roam more freely across the countryside and villages that are unprotected in Borno State. The militants have also continued raids in the unprotected towns after the army’s withdrawal, three briefing notes from an international aid and development organisation, two security officials and residents have shown. ISWAP gunmen had stormed Magumeri on the night of 21 August, torched a clinic, ransacked government buildings and looted shops unchallenged before returning to another town, Gubio, residents said. The new military strategy announced by President Buhari in July to concentrate soldiers in big bases is designed to give troops a secure platform from which they can respond quickly to threats in the region and raid militant camps.

The governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, has said that Fulani herdsmen from Chad, Niger and other neighbouring countries will benefit from the National Livestock Transformation Plan. Speaking on Channels TV, Mohammed said that since Fulani herdsmen are known for their nomadic nature, it would be inappropriate to deprive them of benefiting from the livestock plan just because they are not from Nigeria. Mohammed, whose state is among those that will be part of the project, said 80 percent of the initiative will be funded by the FG while the states would provide 20 percent counterpart funding and the grazing land. Mohammed also said that most of the attacks reportedly carried out by the Fulani are actually precipitated by those outside Nigeria, adding that it is that culture of getting revenge which is embedded in the traditional Fulani man that attracts reprisals.

West African leaders have announced a one-billion-dollar plan to combat rising insecurity in the Sahel region. The pledge, which came in a meeting held in Burkina Faso, is to be funded from 2020 to 2024. ECOWAS, joined by Chad and Mauritania, decided to mobilise “the financial resources of up to a billion dollars for the fight against terrorism”, said Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou. The money, to be paid into a common fund, would help reinforce the military operations of the countries involved – and those of the joint military operations in the region. Full details of the plan would be presented to the next ECOWAS summit in December.

Commentary

  • Like most policies in Nigeria recently, the new CBN policy regarding large cash movements appears to have its pros, cons and also has the appearance of being at cross purposes. It also pays to bear in mind that these efforts are being driven by a fiscal crisis that the authorities are yet to admit to. Just a few days after this announcement, the CBN announced that bank customers are to pay more for Point of Sale transactions. On the positive side for the government, this policy on cash deposits will ensure that the recent move to tax online transactions could succeed, by driving more people to use e-channels. It could also reduce the cost of cash management for CBN and the banks. Perhaps this will facilitate the beginnings of a mobile money revolution, similar to that which is widespread in East Africa. However, on the negative side, the move imposes additional costs on small scale traders, retailers, supermarkets and hotels who take in large cash deposits on a daily basis. We wonder how much data goes into policy-making in Nigeria. Similar policies have been tried before with limited success, and we think this will be no different. What brings people into behaviour like this is building a system they trust and that is reliable. Once it made sense, in successful stories like MPesa, the regulators did not need to take such punitive measures.
  • The creation of the super camps is an admission by the military and the government that government forces are struggling to contain the terrorists. It is also intended more at protecting the soldiers than the civilians – it has made the military less nimble as well with being able to counter attacks. Considering the fact that the military was already struggling to enforce the state’s authority over a huge swathe of land that is the conflict area, this strategy makes it easier for the terrorists to exert control over areas in between these super camps, effectively allowing them to re-establish territory as it was in 2014-15. The solution will be to properly equip the military, carry out troop rotations while increasing their numbers and improve their morale by prompt payment of allowances and increasing their conditions of service.
  • Talk of the kind made by Governor Bala Mohammed stokes the fires of suspicion that Nigerians have for the interventions in favour of herders, the majority of whom are Fulani. We wonder why no one less than a state governor will insist that Nigerian resources be compulsorily used for non-Nigerians, simply because they happen to share ethnic and occupational identity with some Nigerians. It is reckless and the governor should be called to order. Such thinking has negative consequences for Nigeria’s internal security – cross-border nomadic herding makes it easy for the illegal flow of humans, weapons and drugs. It also defeats the purpose of the NLTP which is to achieve ranching and produce higher quality meat and dairy products. A programme like the NLTP requires the broad-based buy-in of Nigerians across the spectrum since the FG will fund 80% irrespective of the location.
  • While the Lake Chad region has been the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, there is increased terrorist activity in the G5 region which is poorer, has weaker central governments and is a large area that the states struggle to administer. The proximity of the Sahel region to the Maghreb region has allowed groups such as AQIM to support the emergence of armed groups such as Ansar-al-Dine and MUJWA across the region. However, it is curious that the plan doesn’t enjoy French financial support, even though France has military bases and troops in the region, directly engaging the armed groups and supporting the armies of the countries. It will be very important to identify synergies between the G5 Sahel Region and the Lake Chad Basin Commission which funds the MNJTF combating Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region.