Thursday, March 1, 2007

After all the controversy surrounding Naira notes inscribed with Arabic scripts, the Central Bank has introduced some new notes that no longer have the Arabic writing. They now are inscribed with the value of the notes in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.

The new notes are supposed to be smaller in size, sturdier (remember all those Naira notes that practically withered away in your hands?) and harder to forge. All that will not change the nauseating feeling I get when Mama Sudirat pulls out a dirty 10 Naira bill from her sweaty bosom!

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I am curious about the various denominations of currency we have in circulation. We have 1 and 2 Naira coins, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes. Do we really need all those various denominations? How do they help? Don't they just add to the complexity that is using the Naira?

As you can probably tell, I don't find most of the notes and coins necessary. When was the last time anyone used a 1 or 2 Naira coin? To do what? Tom Tom sweet has not been under 5 Naira for as long as I can remember. Even Okin biscuit cannot be cheap enough were one would use most of the lower denominations. I bet if I made the mistake of dashing some beggar 500 Naira, he/she would probably look at me and fling the money back in my face, saying "Wetin I go do with 500 Naira?".

If the Central Bank wants to keep coins in circulation they should be worth 50, 100 and/or 200 Naira. That way such denominations will not take up too much space in our wallets. I remember going to lunch at some Chinese restaurant around Adeola Odeku. Thank God my brother carried the entire bank with him. He had to place several notes on the table in order to pay. I should have just suggested we buy some Suya or Shawarma with Seven Up, instead. Would have been just as satisfying.

We should remove lower denominations from circulation as the mere cost of printing them is probably impractical. Why waste money when it could be placed to good use? I'd rather see some better roads. That would definitely keep down the number of accidents and road deaths such as the one that just happened in Katsina State.

Why does everything in Nigeria have to be so complicated? A wise man once told me that Africans do not see the world in black and white. Only white people do. According to him, Africans, and Nigerians in particular, see the world in shades of gray. Things are not cut and dry but complex and constantly evolving. I don't mind complexity as long as it has some order to it. I just wish we could find a way to uncomplicate the complexities that are Nigeria. Can we please start with the Naira?

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