CBN under fire over move to revert from polymer naira notes to paper

Posted by News Express | 23 April 2013 | 4,310 times

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Shock, disbelief and criticisms have trailed the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to revert to paper naira notes from polymer – which it had claimed was better than paper.

A cross section of enlightened Nigerians who bared their minds on the issue had nothing but condemnation for it while others made fun of the move and yet others alleged that it was a smart move by CBN authorities to award unnecessary contacts and make some money.

An Abuja resident, Jonah Amkpila, described it as “trial and error,” a view shared by activist Peter Claver Oparah, who wrote in the online forum “You can bet that soon and very soon, they will go back to polymer, then back to paper, then back to polymer, then back to paper.”

Contributing to a debate on the issue on Facebook, Unclejoe Nnachi Okoroafor, an Abuja-based businessman and politician, said: “This is a clear evidence of CBN’s confusion and inability to look before leaping. This is not the first ‘policy brouhaha’ of CBN. We still recall the attempt to introduce N5,000 without clear reason; introduction of coin ATM machine, cashless policy, etc. (CBN Governor) Mallam Sanusi, will just go for browsing and invoke anything that interests him on internet without considering the long and short term implications.”

Kanemo Anthonia Amaka, a Lagos journalist, agreed, saying: “CBN is simply confused and they take joy in wasting our money. Na wa!”

“And they are called OUR BEST BRAINS!” exclaimed Savn Duke, a Port Harcourt-based educationist, in his contribution to the debate. “How are we sure these people are not contributing to Nigeria’s present state? May the Lord deliver Nigeria from gross darkness.”

To Lagos-based publicist Justin Akpovi-Esade, “Nigeria under (President Goodluck) Jonathan is experiencing the best of all transformations that is making Americans green with envy. Polymer can change anytime to paper or vice versa; it’s part of the ‘uncommon transformation’, same one that has increased electricity supply in Lagos and the east, remember?”

Abiodun Raufu and Ladi Ogunderu however saw it from a different angle.

“It’s a ploy to create another multi-billion naira contract,” Raufu, a media veteran, alleged. “Sanusi and his people know what they are doing.”

Ogunderu, a Lagos businessman, expressed similar sentiments, describing the policy reversal as “the smartest way ever to make legit money for a few over a period of time without repercussions. Backed by law!”

News Express reports that CBN Deputy Governor, Mr. Tunde Lemo, was yesterday quoted by the government-owned News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as disclosing that the apex bank has stopped the printing of small denomination naira notes in polymer because they fade quickly.

Lemo told NAN in an interview on Sunday in Washington, DC, during the Spring Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund: “By the middle of the year, we will start to produce the second generation of lower denomination notes, now in paper and not in polymer.

“My plea is that Nigerians should exercise patience; it wasn’t the fault of the CBN; it was just because we had to go back to the drawing board to rethink the ‘Project Cure’ in the light of the wish of the public that we should not go ahead with the N5,000 notes and lower denominations.

“We will correct that in the course of the year. Polymer certainly will be phased out. In fact, we are phasing out polymer.  No new note is being printed in polymer now.”

Lemo said in the interview that when the CBN was going to introduce the polymer currencies, its search showed that they could last longer than ordinary paper notes.

“However,” he said, “with the benefit of hindsight, we probably should not have dumped polymer because, yes, the substrate lasts longer, but the in-consubstrate began to fade; we didn’t realise that at the time of introduction.

“So, part of ‘Project Cure’ was actually to move away from polymer substrate to paper; unfortunately, we had a push-back because of the issues around N5,000 note and coins.

“The entire programme was put in abeyance; otherwise by now, we should have stopped producing polymer.”

Lemo, according to the report, said the CBN had awarded a contract for the printing of the higher denomination notes to a foreign company because of low capacity at the Nigerian Printing and Minting Company. He also disclosed that the bank would begin to receive the fresh notes from June.

•Photo: CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Source: News Express

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