the brief: issue thirty-six


No Naira in Nigeria: currency shortage leads to protests in the streets
by Tom Lindley

image credit: Vacant0 (Wikimedia Commons)

A report from the National Bank of Nigeria states that following a recent shortage of banknotes, measures have been put in place to ensure economic stability. The crisis occurred after President Muhammadu Buhari announced the circulation of new bills, designed to curb inflation. However, there is now a scarcity of the new notes, meaning Nigerians are faced with limited bank withdrawals.

Many have struggled to pay for necessities as previously deposited Naira bank notes can no longer be withdrawn. Policymakers suggested that, by reducing the reliance on cash through these new measures, Nigeria will make progress on becoming a cashless economy. Citizens, however, have taken a less optimistic view. As only 45 percent of citizens own bank accounts, the majority are now without cash, many of whom are now taking to the streets in protest.


Another blow in the economic war between Putin and the West as the Czechs end Russian gas imports
by Harvey Young

image credit: Pline (Wikimedia Commons) 

In a remarkable, yet painful, feat the Czech Minister of Industry has announced that the Czech Republic imported zero percent Russian gas in January 2023 in stark contrast to it importing 97 percent of its gas from Russia just eight months previously. The Czech Republic, a former Soviet satellite, has been one of Ukraine’s most vocal and committed supporters in its defence against Russia, sending almost $2 billion worth of military equipment and electing a staunchly pro-Ukraine president last month.

To achieve this, the Czechs have instead imported natural gas from Norway and LNG from international markets whilst decreasing gas consumption by 19 percent in 2022. However, this has come at a cost as wholesale energy prices almost doubled during 2022, prompting anti-government protests. Currently the country’s gas storage is at 74 percent capacity. Despite these costs, the Czech government seems to remain staunchly committed to its pro-Ukraine policies.

North America

Dissidents stripped of citizenship in Nicaragua
by Eleanor Austin

image credit: VexilAlpaca (Wikimedia Commons)

For the second time in a month, the Nicaraguan government has stripped some of its critics of their citizenship. Since June 2021, Daniel Otega’s government has been on a crusade against its political opponents. 222 political prisoners were deported to the US last week, being labelled as “traitors to the motherland”. Then, on 15 February, another 94 Nicaraguans were stripped of their citizenship. These individuals ranged from writers and journalists to a bishop. According to the court, they have been detrimental to the peace and sovereignty of the nation. After 16 years in power, many view these authoritarian decisions by Ortega’s government as a desperate attempt to remain in power. 

Globally, legal groups are speaking out against these decisions, arguing that they violate international law. Specifically, the UNHCR released a statement on 17 February saying the arbitrary deprivation of nationality was a serious concern whilst calling on Nicaragua to ensure that statelessness is eradicated.


Cyclone Gabrielle hits New Zealand
by Louise Cresswell

image credit: Stemoc (Wikimedia Commons)

Cyclone Gabrielle, which has been described as the worst of its kind in almost 70 years, hit New Zealand and Vanuatu last week. It is the country’s costliest tropical cyclone on record, with reconstruction costs estimated to reach the US $8 billion mark. 

A national state of emergency was declared by New Zealand on 16 February, but investment in the past in disaster control and stable infrastructure has fortunately kept the death toll low. Despite all the precautions taken, there have been reports of an increase in criminality with incidences of looting supposedly taking place in the areas impacted by the cyclone. New Zealand has formally accepted assistance from the government of Fiji.

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