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To hell with Sanusi's coins!

31 August 2012, 10:24

Even if the National Assembly approves the introduction of the new coins the Central Bank of Nigeria plans on introducing into the economy, I’m never ever going to be found using them!

Call me unpatriotic, disloyal, treacherous, or whatever. I don’t care! But I will not be using them!

I get to move around a lot in my line of work and the thought of coins jingling in my pockets or having them perforated by the sheer weight of those metallic irritants just isn’t appealing.

And being a man, I can’t imagine myself going about with a purse or handbag just for the mere purpose of carrying about coins.

Just take a look at what we have done with the coins that are still supposedly in the system. For those who don’t know, I’m referring to the 50 kobo, one naira and two naira coins, that is, if you are actually able to find any.

Why? Because blacksmiths and iron smelters have converted most of them into other usable forms other than coins.

I have no issues with moves by the CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to change the current security features on existing naira notes. It is very good to have currency changes from time to time especially to counter the adverse effect of having a currency staying too long in the system without changes to some of its security features, such as counterfeiting.

But I have issues with changing currencies and then introducing something that will be a problem for most Nigerians.

The CBN boss may have gone just too far with his plans to reduce the amount of physical cash in circulation because he seems oblivious to the fact that culturally most Nigerians have a ‘hatred’ for coins.

If we don’t have anything of value to carry out with coins, we just don’t use them. That is the Nigerian way.

In other words, the introduction of the 5, 10 and 20 naira coins, if approved by the National Assembly (and I hope they don’t approve it) will only lead to the demise of these denominations in the system.

And then there is the issue of the five thousand naira notes that will be embossed on one side with the faces of three of the greatest Nigerian women of all-time, including my personal favourite Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, and on the other side with an image of the National Assembly complex, Abuja.

Removing the fictitious faces on existing 50 naira notes and replacing them with those of the three esteemed ladies to me is a much better solution than creating this new 5000 naira burden. At least that will go a long way in showing regard and respect to women and motherhood.

But increasing the value of the highest note presently in circulation from a thousand to five thousand naira, an increase of 500 percent (I hope my maths is correct), just isn’t proper. It will only further increase inflation and take corruption up to another level in the system.

It will also encourage currency counterfeiters to further carry out their dastardly acts as the incentives are now bigger.

It is obvious Sanusi wants to hasten the process of Nigeria becoming a cashless economy but we cannot get to that level until we are able to guarantee uninterrupted electricity supply.

Yes, a cashless economy will, from an economist’s perspective, be a boost to the system and curb inflation but we cannot get to that level until electricity becomes stable except Sanusi wants to limit the cashless initiative to urban centres where shops can easily finalize transactions conducted via Point of Sale (POS) machines with the help of generators.

However, a banker friend of mine believes the move by the CBN boss is just another procurement scam; a means at swelling the pockets of some individuals.

Knowing my country and how things work, I have no doubt that will be the case and can’t stop asking myself what the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions REALLY meant when they directed the CBN to suspend the introduction of  N5,000 note until the Senate was properly BRIEFED.

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