N5, 000 BANK NOTE; TO BE OR NOT TO BE?

N5, 000 BANK NOTE; TO BE!                                                                                                                             

“VOX POPULI VOX DEI”—the voice of the people [is] the voice of God!

As I commence this week I would like to appreciate a couple of people, namely; Halima Adeniran, Victoria Osuji, Omotola Babayemi, Idowu Omobolanle, Justina Olayinka, Akande Sanyaolu, Honourable Christian, Udoffia Mary, Damilola Tijani and many other Union page maestros for your support on an article I wrote for Saharareporters last year December titled “Nigerian women and the Honorary notes”. In that article, I lamented how no Nigeria women has been so honoured with a space on the Naira safe Ladi Kwali who graces the rear part of N20 note.

Here we are in 2012, aligning ourselves with the popular maxim—the voice of the people is the voice of God. We spoke our minds on the issue and the Central bank heard via Saharareporters. Now the proposed N5, 000 bank note is set to honour the exact women we lamented deserve a spot and people have come up with flimsy excuses why the note should not even come forth at all. They complain that the apex bank should be focused on reducing inflation, rather than dwelling on the production of a new note.

After the death of Funsho Williams a couple of years ago, it was discovered that stacks of cash to the tune of many millions of Naira were found at his residence. This is the case for many Nigerian politicians who have been curbed by the money laundering act. They now keep cash in their houses since the bank would not be able to accommodate their ridiculous loot.

The Introduction of the new Naira note and the redesigning of the previous would make this political loot become invalid and this would mop up liquid cash in circulation, thereby reducing the feared inflation.

It is worthy of note that it cost the Central bank of Nigeria about 114Bn [N114, 000, 000, 000] to maintain the Naira every year. The Introduction of the new note has the prospect to slash this amount drastically. Rather than using an amount to maintain five N1,000, 20% of that amount will be used in maintaining  just one N5,000 note, thereby saving 80% of production and maintenance cost.

We may say world leading economies pride in their highest denominations being £50 and $100, but we should not forget that £50 is equal to N12,750 and $100 is N15,000 which is way far from the amount the CBN is proposing, yet they still maintain single digit inflation rates. Therefore the note is not the problem but the economy itself and the introduction of this note promises to reduce liquid cash in the economy, which will in turn tighten the bands of the Naira and effectively better the economy.

My Lords in this courtroom, I see it as unreasonable for us to ignore leprosy for ringworm and to chase shadow leaving substance. I see it as unreasonable for us to blame the endemic eating into the soul of our economy on introduction of a note that promises to cut inflation. I therefore reasonably posit that the proposed N5,000 should be!

N5, 000 BANK NOTE; NOT TO BE.

If Nigeria’s political scene was to be a season movie, there would never be a dull moment. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is the protagonist while others are starring in different roles, issues emanating from the script could sometimes yield melodramatic giggles. I don’t need to start reeling out the episodes, I guess you know all off hand; Fuel subsidy, MAU’s naming ceremony, Dame Patience’s Permanent Secretary role, Farouk Lawan’s ‘peculiar mess’… the list is endless.

Here comes the latest episode; starring as the lead actor is Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. The central bank of Nigeria has made known its intent of introducing 5000 naira banknote in the future. This move has been greeted by diverse reactions from different parts of the world. It is an anti-masses move! Sometimes, I wonder what our leaders think about; do they know what the masses are going through? Do they care about thousands of Nigerians who lose their lives in auto crashes due to bad roads? The answer is NO! A billion naira pumped into repair of roads will yield bountiful results, I can’t fathom the billions of naira that will be used for the printing of these notes. All what they think about is amassing wealth for themselves, they are apostles of corruption, avid students of egocentricity, they have been blindfolded by the veil of nepotism hence they do not feel the pains of the masses. Sanusi led CBN have been worried about the increasing inflationary trend in the economy, to this end, they decided to increase interest to 12% to combat rising inflation. Just in a twinkle of an eye, they are about to print large denomination note; 5000 naira, the value of naira will plummet down the mountain, inflation will be on the increase!

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is a renowned economist and he knows that if Nigeria is to be among the 20 leading economies in world by 2020 we must tend towards the path of those ahead of us, not those behind us. In the United Kingdom; the highest denomination is £50, in the US; the highest is $100 bill. Who are we following? Is it Zimbabwe whose highest denomination is 100 trillion dollar bill? The CBN in 2008 and 2009 came up with a proposal to re-denominate the currency, which was to take off the zeroes. FG and majority of the politicians were against such a move. Here we are in 2012, the trend has reversed flowing towards the path of corruption .Apart from the obvious consequences of devaluation of naira and high inflation rate, there would be a public enthronement of corruption, bribe givers don’t need to tender cheques again, they can carry the money, and it is now very portable. Imagine me having 1 million naira in my pockets conveniently, a stack of 5000 naira notes (100) – half a million, 2 stacks will be a million. So easy for them, nobody will be able to trace them but they could be traced if it were to be by cheques. Not quite long, CBN made known its aim to setup a cashless system; I do not see how large denomination notes will aid this.

If Nigerians remain quiescent and allow CBN to go ahead with the introduction of 5000 naira bank note, they would never stop there, one morning, you will hear about a million naira banknote. The last thing Nigeria needs now is the introduction of a 5000 naira banknote. Say NO to 5000 naira banknote!

CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgement. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom. N5,000 Bank note; to be or not to be?

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