By Emmanuel Iddio
Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the re-domination of the Nigerian currency which would see the release of a new note. This news was greeted with mixed feelings, and I do not yet know where to pitch my tent. We would all agree that the economy keeps getting worse but is it the best solution? Is Sanusi our savior or an angelic executioner?
I remember years back, my dad called an impromptu family meeting. Unlike other family meetings, this was based on the family’s “economic meltdown”. With the inflation rate running high and income remaining constant, we had to cut down many expenses. From that day eggs disappeared from breakfast, I had to go to school by public transport and soups were without disturbances (meat).
In the course of thirteen years, our dear country has released five new notes but how much good has it done to our economy? It is almost like filling up a large tank with many holes beneath, the tank never gets full but we keep pouring in.
That tank is our economy, we helpless Nigerians are the ones working to fill it up, but our corrupt leaders are the holes beneath. The corruption industry is ever booming but the below middle class Nigerians, have been turned into laboratory rats for their baseless economic experiments.
As at February 1977, N20 was the highest denomination, but 35 years later we see the emergence of N5,000 note. Has our economy grown much better within these 35 years?
Some Nigerians see the release of the N5,000 note as a step in the right direction. They see it as a way to reduce the volume of cash in circulation and possibly imbibe the cashless economy. They also see it as a way of raising government revenue and reducing the cost of transactions. But is this the best way to achieve all these?
The adverse end of this trend is that it is a slippery slope towards inflation. The effect of inflation could push the nation to re-domination or complete abandonment of the present currency system. Since the lowest value in note would be N100, very soon the cheapest of commodities and services would go for that price. It could also promote corruption and money laundering. The unintended consequences and collateral damage of introducing the N5,000 note may outweigh the benefits of the new move, if there are any.
Furthermore, the proposed N50 coin would only drive this value of our currency out of use. No one spend coins in our society today. If N50 is driven out of use, what would become of poor Nigerians? I cannot imagine that I would soon be receiving a single note for my monthly upkeep; if it gets lost it would spell doom. When would our leaders stop deceiving us, telling us that there is a bright plain beyond this dark cave? One blow after the other, beyond that of fuel subsidy they continue till they knock us all out.
I cannot help but remember my father’s sad story; when those you vote in become the chief reason you pray hard. The same people you elevate continue to strangle you and increase your burdens. When would eggs return, I often asked myself? But mine is even better, so many families have to scrap off one full meal. In a country where the rate of inflation runs faster than the rate of salary increments; how can we ever distinguish if we are rich or poor? We remain middle classes. Even though this new trend may be a step in the right direction, CBN need to enlighten Nigerians and should remain open to a change of mind.