The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, (CBCN) said shoddy implementation of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) cash swap policy, which resulted in a cash crunch, has added to the ordeal, anger and frustration of the masses.

The Bishops lamented that on account of hard-biting economic conditions, many Nigerians have been pauperised, going to bed without food while others have resorted to crime and begging to survive.

Also, the body urged Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to live above board as an impartial umpire and ensure its conduct in the forthcoming general elections is beyond reproach.

Speaking at the Opening Session of the 2023 First Plenary Assembly of CBCN in Abuja, yesterday, the President, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, said government seems overwhelmed by the cash crisis, despite claim that it is on top of the matter.

Ugorji said untold and undeserved suffering to which Nigerians have been subjected over the years is good preparation for them to vote wisely during the elections, adding that the polls, if well conducted, could be a turning point in Nigeria’s political and economic history.

He noted that growing debt burden is compounding the situation further and mortgaging the nation’s future.

He said: “While the value of the naira continues to decline, the cost of basic commodities, including food items, continues to soar, with serious effects on the lives and livelihoods of our people.

“On account of long-persisting fuel scarcity, Nigerians spend endless hours in long queues under harsh weather conditions, trying to buy fuel at exorbitant prices.

“However, all hope is not lost. With the forthcoming general elections drawing close, people perceive a glimmer of light after a very long and dark tunnel. We, therefore, urge all to play their roles maturely and creditably during the period of the general elections.”

Ugorji commended INEC for introducing the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the electoral process and expressed hope that INEC would ensure the machines are functional on election days, in all the polling units across the country.

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