By ISAAC ANUMIHE
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has announced it will introduce into the market a N5,000 note, the highest currency denomination in Nigeria when it debuts. Apart from the new addition, the CBN will pick a hefty budget in billions of nara to remodel existing denominations and turn some into coins.
But this is not palatable to so many Nigerians as they speak up. The other denominations introduced recently into the market are the N100, N200, N500 and N1,000 which were issued in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005 respectively. While the N1,000 note is protected by a number of sophisticated security features which are sensed by touch and sight, with the aid of a magnifying lens or under ultraviolet light, it is not clear yet what the features of the new note are made of.
When the N1,000 note was introduced in 2005, there were speculations that the e-payment system or the cashless policy would be affected but the then Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman allayed the fears of the public, saying: “The introduction of the N1,000 currency note is not to suggest that we have jettisoned the e-payment project but to address the cash component of the payment systems. The e-payment project is still on-going. The reality is that cash transaction has refused to die.
You cannot have a cashless society. It’s not possible, not even in the most advanced economies with all the technology. The introduction of the new note will not amount to a reduction in the volume of the lower denominations. All the denominations will continue to be issued in the right mix and volume to meet the demands of Nigerians and the general public.”
The N1,000 note was to be the last in the series of higher denominations approved for issuance by the federal government. But, according to sources, the N5,000 note will not only enhance the cashless policy of the federal government, it might also be used to immortalize the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who gave so much to the country. Daily Sun was privy to the coming of the new currency and broke the news, and therefore sampled opinion of Nigerians on the development. It was simply surprising that though the interviews were conducted before the CBN made official admission of the plans, the same names our respondents suggested should be on the note were the ones announced by the CBN later. Since news of the N5,000 note broke, it has elicited comments from stakeholders.
Some Nigerians say the major challenge facing an average Nigerian today regarding the naira is not about the singleness of the N5,000 note, but about the availability of economic opportunities that will enable him to generate and earn such amount productively.
The dilemma of the ordinary citizens who are used to poverty is that the naira is almost worthless in value as to secure any reasonable thing.
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, Rights activist I believe it is unnecessary and irrelevant at this critical time of our nation, particularly when the country is afflicted by severe economic adversities such as unemployment, high crime rate, under-industrialization, capital flight, invasion of the local economy by quacks and unfit persons from abroad who breach the expatriate quota and the constant closure of small scale firms due to high interest/lending rates by financial institutions and the imminent threat of food insecurity.
Farmers are not getting the needed financial lifeline from banks to expand and modernize their farming activities to meet with the large demands for farm produce. The Central Bank of Nigeria ought to begin the implementation of projects and policies to promote local industrialization and to bring down the lending or interest rates charged by banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria.
Certainly, the introduction of N5,000 note is not the issue at this moment. The best way to promote cashlessness is to fix the necessary facilities to enable the cashless system work. A nation without the modern socio-economic facilities like electricity and other technology-driven infrastructure are not in place to implement any economic reform.
By and large, the proposed N5,000 note is not needful now. Most people are going electronic banking and we have points of sales machines and automated teller machines and online channels. So, with all this in place why do you need N5,000 note when we want to institute a cashless society?. To even contemplate using the portrait of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, former president who incidentally appointed Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as CBN Governor is to say the least patronizing and selfish.
If indeed Nigeria needs icons and heroes to use their portraits in any naira note why not adopt the photo of Mrs. Margret Ekpo or the lady who led the Aba Women’s riot instead of using pictures of these same politicians of contemporary times that have led Nigeria into this economic mess through corruption? Sanusi Lamido Sanusi should stop introducing divisive policies like his arbitrary award of N100,000 unbudgeted assistance to Kano victims of Boko Haram attacks and now this weird idea of N5,000 note just few months after he introduced the unpopular Islamic banking that violates Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution.
Ayodele Sebiotimo, media rights activist I don’t think that having another denomination of naira is going to solve our problem. It does not have anything to do with the economy right now. To start with, Nigeria is planning against next year to start with cashless society. If you are talking about cashless society, mobile money, why are you talking of another denomination? I don’t have anything with the former president, late Umaru Yar’Adua. He contributed his quota. But it has always been the Nigerian issue – sentiments. Why do we have to whip up sentiment and put Yar’Adua’s face on the note? We have a lot of Nigerians who have done better than him. They deserve to be recognized. But right now I don’t think we need another denomination of the naira.
Abdulwahab Isa, Economy analyst Although CBN has not officially affirmed that they are going to release N5,000 note and N2,000 inclusive, to me we already have inflation on our hand and CBN has not been able to bring inflation to single digit that they have been trying to achieve. So, why do we want to have another currency denomination when the one we have now has not even improved our economy. We have enough currency denominations now that can serve our purpose. That will even enable the politicians to ‘steal’ our money the more.