Date Published: 10/01/09
Editorial: Nigeria and the new naira garbage
Last Wednesday President Umaru Yar’Adua, formally launched the redesigned lower naira denomination of N5, N10, and N50 notes. On that occasion, held shortly before the weekly Federal Executive Council(FEC), meeting, the president showered praises on the so called currency restructuring program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This program gave birth to this project, which in the view of so many Nigerians, is a waste of resources.
The president said the redesigning and printing of the naira notes on polymer substrate, represented what he called ‘ a comprehensive reform strategy aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the currency structure.’ Last week, CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi said the move is in conformity with international best practice which requires that currency structures be reviewed periodically to safeguard its integrity, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
He also disclosed that the sum of N1.95 billion was produced.
He and the president went on to talk about security features, , durability, acceptance etc. Yar’Adua explained that his administration approved the conversion of the lower denominations to polymer substrate because the N20 note printed in 2007 on polymer substrate is durable . He said ‘ the denominated expediency of adopting the polymer substrate in bank note printing, informed my approval of the conversion of the other lower banknote denominations in 2008 on the recommendation of the oard of the Central Bank”
Considering the enormity of challenges facing the Yar’ Adua admistration it is curious why the printing of new currency notes should be its priority. The administration has a lot problems compounding the lives of the ordinary Nigerian. The issue of ASUU is still unresolved.
Questions now are how much was used for this worthless project. According to Sanusi, N1.95 billion was printed; therefore simple arithmetic tells us the cost is very high even though they tried to minimize it by say the printing was done locally. How much is required to sort out the allowances and infrastructure demand in universities by ASUU. How can this administration explain how “enhancing the efficiency of the naira note”, is more important than making is stronger against other currencies like dollar and the euro.
How many ordinary Nigerians have naira in their pockets, how many have bank accounts, how many of them cares whether the naira has “integrity, “ Who cares about a good looking N20 note printed on polymer substrate that cannot buy a little loaf of bread , cup of rice or garri.
Sanusi talked about keeping up with international best practice. And we ask, when US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton visited Africa, she reminded our leaders of “international best practices” when it comes to using public funds, what happened to that clarion call by a foreign leader.
Issue is, it appears it is still business as usual. Every administration design ways to justify the waste in public office, while serious issues are left unattended.. We are of the view that the huge amount used in this garbage of a currency reform strategy should have been channeled to something more beneficial to the common man.