As Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for the umpteenth time, urged the public to refrain from accepting multilated Naira notes from banks, all tiers of government equally have a role to play via mass education in changing the orientation of Nigerians towards the currency.It is an open secret that people’s culture makes the Naira suffer much abuse, as some spray it at parties, soil it, write on it, squeeze it while others hawk it like merchandised items.
This practises must have prompted the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN) to blame the poor treatment of the currency for its mutilated notes everywhere.
Its President, Uju Ogubunka, while speaking to a national daily recently had said: “The same people that get the new notes, when you see that note again, within two or three days, you won’t believe they were from the mint at the time they came out. It is all about education; the level of awareness of our people to handle such issue.”
Toeing the same line of argument, Mr Vincent Wuranti, the Deputy Director, Currency Operations Department of the apex bank, while lecturing Wuse Market traders on how to handle and maintain the naira notes recently, urged all users to desist from squeezing the notes, writing on them or using dirty hands to handle them. Wuranti also urged the public to inculcate the habit of using wallets in order to safeguard the naira and allow it to have a longer life span
On his part, Ogubunka counseled the Naira handlers to treat the currency with respect:
“My first advice to them is that they should use the notes properly to avoid a situation of receiving bad, torn, dirty, wet, oil notes. The second side is, If you go to banks and they give you mutilated notes, you reject it right there, insist they change it for you. And if you are in a market place and they give you mutilated notes, you have the option of rejecting it.
“If you want to make a sale, if you are sure nobody will accept it from you, you reject it. But if you are sure somebody will take it from you, or if you take it to the banks, they will take it, you can accept it. But if nobody will accept it from you, it is as useless as a common paper.”
This advice was in sync with that of Mr. Isaac Okorafor, the Acting Director, Communications Department of CBN, who appealed to Nigerians to handle the national currency with care, as it is a symbol of identity and value which should be handled with respect.
While blaming the commercial banks for sabotaging CBN efforts at replacing mutilated Naira with new notes, Okorafor also urged the public to always demand for new notes instead of collecting dirty notes from the banks.
Explaining the efforts of the apex bank so far, he said:
“One of the steps taken by CBN in mopping up the mutilated notes from the system was reduction in the amount it charges banks for sorting the dirty notes for clean ones from N12,000 to N1,000 per box”.
He, however, added that the opportunity was limited to lower denominations, comprising N50, N20 and N10.
Okorafor stated that the reduction, which lasted for three months from January 2 to March 28, was to encourage banks to return more dirty notes to CBN.
He said the sorting charges, which used to be N12,000 was later reduced to N2,000 per box after the March 28 deadline when the window was closed.
But as the public complaints of large scale circulation of dirty and mutilated notes become more strident, the CBN spokesman hinted that the bank had adopted another strategy of withdrawing the unfit notes from circulation, rather than depending mainly on the commercial banks on the task in view of their poor response
Recall that the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, told Nigerian journalists on the sidelines of World Bank conference in Washington DC last month that the bank was working with market associations and other stakeholders to enhance the circulation of new naira notes. The move, according to him, was part of efforts to address the high incidence of dirty naira notes and currency mutilation.
He assured Nigerians that the central bank would continue to print new notes as well as address concerns about defacing the currency.
His words: “We would keep printing new notes. I do know that new notes are being printed. Our Director of Currency, the banks and market associations are working together to ensure that those currencies are delivered directly into the markets so that people feel what we are doing,”
Echoing this view, Okorafor said the CBN had started engaging associations in various markets to encourage traders to change genuine dirty notes for new ones.
This, he said, would not attract any cost to traders.
“The bank has already taken the new measure to Kano, Kaduna and Abuja and also intends to bring it to the South soon,” he said