The Journey to End the Defacing of Naira

by Olutayo Irantiola

Various banknotes in Nigeria

Nigerians woke up to the news that the Central Bank of Nigeria has given a verdict that mobile courts will start to sentence people to jail for hawking; spraying money in ceremonies amongst others. This has become a cliché in the society and the Central Bank has been like a toothless bulldog on the same discourse which has lingered for ages.

Nigerians are global known to be celebrating people. If we consider the amount of money that is expended weekly on parties, one would know that those hawking money have come into the ecosystem of making parties glamour. Interestingly, ‘owanbe’ loving Nigerians patronize these hawkers gladly because they have filled the void of not having access to mints, through financial institutions, to use in showing off at parties and this act became a norm after a while. The first question is, “how do these people come across the mints that they are hawking?” There is more than meets the eye.

The idea of spraying money has finally left the shores of Nigeria with the Nigerians in the diaspora. There are many online videos that have shown Nigerians spraying money at various events in other continents of the globe. This presupposes that a Nigerian culture has found expression in other climes.

This verdict by the Central Bank of Nigeria would attract the wrath of members of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) because the much anticipated part of a party is the time wherein money is sprayed on a musician for rendering one’s eulogy and that of one’s lineage, for instance, the Yorubas have been doing this for ages even before the introduction of banknotes, they go as far as doling out clothes to the musician.

If hawkers are haunted because they usually transact their business outside the event center, how would they track those at the ‘owanbe’ spraying money in this era when security men are deployed around the event center? Would the CBN detectives be on the lookout for videos posted online in order to arrest the culprits? What happens if those involved are the big wigs of the society? There are many more questions to ask.

As an adjoining thought, the mutilation of our currency is not out of the purview of our commercial banks. They are renowned for staining naira when they are creating a packet of money and ultimately make a bundle and in fact, their signature seems like the Commercial Bank’s Governor’. This needs to be checked if the naira would be used to represent our country as required.

The journey to correcting the attitudinal, behavioral and cultural trend in the handling of naira starts from awareness before we get to stage of enforcement. As a country, we need to learn how to correct ourselves using various methods. There is a need to engage all the various stakeholders including Nollywood and deploy lots of other communication tactics to ensure that the message reaches all Nigerians. The end might not come in this generation but if the work starts now, we would surely overcome this trend.

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