The bleak future of Nigerian currency

Posted on 21st Sep 2012 under FEATURES.

The West African Currency Board was responsible for issuing currency notes in Nigeria from 1912 to 1959. Prior to the establishment of the West African Currency Board, Nigeria had used various forms of Money including Cowries and Manilas.


Author: By Godday Odidi

 The West African Currency Board was responsible for issuing currency notes in Nigeria from 1912 to 1959. Prior to the establishment of the West African Currency Board, Nigeria had used various forms of Money including Cowries and Manilas.
   On 1st July 1959 the Central Bank of Nigeria issued the Nigerian Currency notes and coins and the West African Currency Board notes and coins were withdrawn. It was not until 1st July, 1962 that legal tender status was changed to reflect the country\'s new status. The notes were again changed in 1968 as a war strategy following the misuse of the country\'s currency notes.
   On 31st March, 1971, the then Head of the state announced that Nigeria would change to decimal currency as from 1st January, 1973. The major currency unit would be called Naira which would be equivalent to ten shilling the minor unit would be called kobo, 100 of which would make one Naira. The decision to change to decimal currency committee set up in 1962 which submitted its report in 1964.
   The change that took place in January, 1973 was a major one and this involved both currency notes and coins. The major unit of currency which used to be one pounce ceased to exist and the one Naira which was equivalent to 10 become the major unit.
   On 11th February, 1977 a new banknote denomination of  the value of 20 Naira was issued. This was special in two respects. The #20 (Twenty Naira) banknote was the highest denomination to be introduced then, and its issue became necessary as a result of the growth of incomes in the country, the preference for cash transactions and the need for convenience. The #20 (Twenty Naira) banknote became the first currency note in Nigeria bearing the portrait of a Nigerian citizen, in this case the late Head of State General Murtala Ramat Muhammed (1938- 1976) who was the torch bearer of the Nigerian Revolution July 1975. He was declared a national hero on the 1st of October 1978. The note was issued on the 1st Anniversary of his assassination as a fitting tribute to a most illustrious son of Nigeria. On 2nd July 1979, new currency notes of three denominations, namely (#1), (#5), and (#10) were introduced. These notes were of the same size ie 151*78mm as the #20 note issued on the 11th February 1977 in order to facilitate identification, distinctive colors which were similar to those of the current banknotes of the various denominations were used. The notes showcase the portraits of three eminent Nigerians, who were declared national heroes on the 1st of October, 1978. The engravings at the back of the notes reflected the cultural aspects of the country. In 1991, both the 50k an #1notes were coined. In response to expansion in economic activities and to facilitate an efficient payments system, the #100, #200, #500 and #1000 were introduced in December 1999, November 2000, April 2001 and October 2005 respectively.
     On February 28th 2007, as part of the economic reforms, #50, #20, #10 and #5 banknotes as well as #1 and 50k coins were reissued with new designs while a new #2coin was introduced.
     It is sad that the former CBN governor Prof Charles Soludo introduced new naira notes and coins to reduce the excess of money in circulation and curb inflation in Nigeria, yet all these economic parameters never solved the economic problems of the country rather impoverished its people. Nigeria is currently battling with unmitigated problems of economic instability as a result of textbook policy formulators. Nigeria is faced with three vital problems which are poverty, corruption and insecurity. The political gimmicks which the former CBN governor used to lure Nigerians never worked for the teeming population of the country. It is now dawn on Nigeria that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer in all ramifications. This is a country where many Nigerians cannot afford three square meals, yet the few economic policy makers never considered the plight of an average suffering Nigerian on the street rather implement policies that are not favorable to the poor. Regular changing of currency denomination would do Nigerians no good rather create conflict of interest on some high profile cabals who want to sell off the country for selfish interest.
     Ever since the former CBN governor introduced new naira notes and coins, the prices of goods and services have sky-rocked which indicated that anything that goes up cannot come down. It is not quiet long when the present CBN governor Mr. Sanusi Lamido introduced cashless policy to reduce the excess of money in circulation which mandated all universal banks to compel their customers to use ATM cards to withdraw money less than #100,000.The purpose of introducing cashless policy has been defeated. Even the fuel subsidy palaver is nothing to write home about since the government is only interested in killing the suffering Nigerians who voted massively for President Goodluck Jonathan in last 2011 general elections. Early this year the same Sanusi told Nigerians that they should not worry about the state of the economy that all is well with the country, yet the rate of committing suicide is high as a result of economic hardship. The vision 2020 that Nigeria would be 20 best economies in world indicates that the country is still dreaming not achieving its economic plans.
  As Nigerians in the Northern part of Nigeria still battling over insecurity threats which the Federal government has failed to provide when the CBN governor  Mr. Sanusu Lamido Sanusi (SLS) announced the bank\'s intention to introduce #5000 notes.  The CBN governor also planned  to restructure the Naira which would lead to the conversion of existing #5, #10 and #20 to coins and to enhance the quality of our currency by incorporating more effective features for visually impaired as well as reduce the cost of production, distribution and disposal of banknotes. The cost of printing new naira notes is a enough to create jobs for the Nigerian youth. Sanusi’s policy is not different from Soludo’s own. The Minister of Finance and other economic policy makers should be questioned for taken Nigerians to the cleaners. The recent intervention of the senate indicates that the country\'s leadership is being monitored to savage the economy. It is a pity that Sanusi is using textbook theories to decide the economy. It is time for President Jonathan to fix major problems that has plunged the country into thin darkness over the year now..

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