Is coin still legal tender in Nigeria?

(By Oseni Obaro)

No society can do without coins because of its role in facilitation of transactions, the coins reduced the tendency to approximate transactions to the nearest bank notes, it makes change available for daily transactions, it was in the line of these that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) re-introduced the coins on February 28, 2007, as part of the economic reforms, N50, N20,N10 and N5 bank notes as well as N1 and 50 Kobo coins were re-issued with new designs, while a new N2 coin was introduced.

UNDER the colonial rule, local currencies which include coins were issued. This was to further ensure a balance in the currency structure and unit of accounts as well as ease transactions, punishing those who refused to use them. It wasn’t until the 1991 currency re-structuring that people’s attitudes and acceptance of the coin began to gradually change, when the then military administration issued a new N50 bank note and turned 50 Kobo and 1 naira bank notes into coins. Many Nigerians saw it as an attempt to make the lower denomination unsuitable for transaction.

   No society can do without coins because of its role in facilitation of transactions, the coins reduced the tendency to approximate transactions to the nearest bank notes, it makes change available for daily transactions, it was in the line of these that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) re-introduced the coins on February 28, 2007, as part of the economic reforms, N50, N20,N10 and N5 bank notes as well as N1 and 50 Kobo coins were re-issued with new designs, while a new N2 coin was introduced.

   The CBN directed that all banks should pay two per cent of all withdrawals in coins. This means, for instance, if a customer was withdrawing N20,000 from his bank account, he has to go home with coins worth N400 to spend. The same CBN directed the banks not to accept coins as deposits from the public until further notice, giving reasons that the coins needed to be kept in circulation for some time. Before the re-introduction of coins, goods were priced in multiples of fives because of the dearth of coins and this affected price levels greatly. No goods could be bought for N1 because no such denomination existed, so prices of the lowest-priced goods were raised to N5 and N10. Unfortunately and sadly, we are back to that situation.

  The coin has suffered untold rejection and abuse from the public because Nigerians are not better educated and enlightened on the need to have it in circulation. The situation whereby the naira notes have been turned into writing sheets,  even by those working in the bank, stained by meat sellers and squeezed by buses and taxi drivers, has worsened the battered naira and hence the need for the use of coins to be enforced.

  If developed countries like the USA and China use the coin for their daily transactions, then it shows its importance and advantages to the economy. As a matter of urgency, the CBN should send a bill to the national assembly to be passed into law. This bill should criminalise rejection and any form of abuse of the coin and a minimum sentence of six months imprisonment with an option of fine should be enacted. Furthermore, like it is done in China and the USA, the government should designate some business places and establishments as no – banknote-for-transaction, places like post offices, toll-gates, licensing offices, school business centres, lottery centres, cinemas e.t.c should only transact in coins. Those are ways by which the government can intensify the campaign for the use of coins in all transactions so that the unemployed and poor Nigerians can survive.

• 08065396694  Oseniobaro@yahoo.com 

The YOUTHSPEAK Column which is published daily, on weekdays, on the back cover of THE GUARDIAN Newspaper, is powered by RISE NETWORKS, Nigeria’s Leading Youth and Education Development Social Enterprise, as a substantial advocacy platform available for ALL Nigerian Youth to engage Leadership at all levels, engage Society and contribute to National Discourse on diverse issues especially those that are peculiar to Nigeria.

Regarding submission of articles, we welcome writers’ contributions by way of well crafted, analytical and thought provoking opinion editorials that are concise, topical and non-defamatory! All Articles [which are not expected to be more than 1000 words] should be sent to editorial@risenetworks.org.

To read the online Version of this same article plus past publications and to find out more about Youth Speak, please click www.risenetworks.org/youthspeak and join the ongoing National Conversations.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

RISE NETWORKS

"Nigeria's Leading Private Sector and Donor funded Social Enterprise with deliberate interest in Technology and its relevance to Youth and Education Development across Africa. Our Strategic focus is on vital human capital Development issues and their relationship to economic growth and democratic consolidation." Twitter: @risenetworks || Facebook - RISE GROUP || Google Plus - Rise Networks