Naira as symbol of our collective identity (2)

(By Oni Oluwafemi)

Regrettably, Nigerians do not handle foreign currencies such as Pounds, Dollars or even low valued CFA the same way they handle their own currency notes. The same market women, butchers, conductors who handle the Naira poorly will not handle Euros, Pounds, Dollar or even CFA and Cedi sent to them the same way, due to the high value they place on those currencies. It is obvious that Nigerians need to treat the Naira notes with greater respect and care, so they can have more longevity.

Continued from yesterday

MARKET traders need to be properly sensitised that hands not properly washed after a visit to the washroom can contaminate with the trophozoite of the developed parasite, eggs, cysts or even the oocyst. Other attitudes such as the wetting of hands or fingers with saliva or the use of contaminated water to lubricate the hand in counting money could lead to possible transfer of parasite and bacterial from the notes. The contaminated currency notes go into circulation and contaminate the hands of others, transmitting microorganisms in the process. Ordinarily, the exposure of Naira notes to the atmosphere could even bring about contamination depending on the environment in question. Microbial contaminants maybe transmitted either directly, through hand-to-hand contacts, or indirectly, via food or other inanimate objects. These routes of transmission are of great importance in the health of many populations in developing countries, where the frequency of infection is a general indication of local hygiene and environmental sanitation levels. The habits of putting monies in the bra should further be discouraged.

   Even the elites are also guilty as they also contribute to the mutilated monies in circulation. Bank employees who are supposed to know better are the worst culprits in the act of scribbling on the naira notes. After packing the money neatly, they write figures on them either to know the exact amount in the pack or for reasons of identification best known to them.

    Regrettably, Nigerians do not handle foreign currencies such as Pounds, Dollars or even low valued CFA the same way they handle their own currency notes. The same market women, butchers, conductors who handle the Naira poorly will not handle Euros, Pounds, Dollar or even CFA and Cedi sent to them the same way, due to the high value they place on those currencies. It is obvious that Nigerians need to treat the Naira notes with greater respect and care, so they can have more longevity. But one cannot but wonder for the source of the crisp notes being sold in the market place, motor parks, event centres and party venues by young men and women who do not work in any commercial bank, the CBN or the Nigeria Minting and Printing Security Limited (NMPS). This is against the backdrop of inability of banks – custodians of the monies – to pay out clean Naira notes to their customers. Even Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) dispense dirty and mutilated naira notes as against early days of ATM when the machine dispensed only clean and crispy notes.

   Sections 20 and 21 of the CBN Act of 2006 stipulate how the Naira should be handled. More needs to be done at the level of adherence with this act. It is high time offenders were punished. We cannot continue to do the same thing, same way and expect different results. Nigerian Broadcasting Commission should ban henceforth films that promote mutilation of monies, ditto for musical albums that promote same. Our religious institutions have prominent roles to play in this campaign. Worshippers should be encouraged to give their offering, tithes and other financial obligations in envelopes. I find it hard to believe how religious faithful will be squeezing monies in the offering bags to give to a Being they refer to as supreme. It smacks of lack of all sense of decency and reverence for such a Being! Flat trays can be used instead of the traditional hollow bags used to collect offerings. I have been to a crusade organised by one the renowned Pentecostal churches with over one million worshippers. During the event, it was announced we should all bring out any denomination we had with us and step on it. According to the pastor, it was a way of having dominion over monies! Even ifa worshippers are not spared as they also guilty of divining ifa corpus with squeezed notes. Not only this, NURTW needs to join in the fight against mutilated notes. Bus conductors need to buy wallet or small bags which they can tie around their waists that can neatly hold notes.

  Inasmuch as alms giving are in line with codes of all religions, it is imperative that decency should not be thrown into the winds when doing so to the beggars. It is imperative that we need to know that the currencies represent our collective identity. After the national flag, our naira notes come second as a form of unifying factor. We should stop blaming the government for every malfeasance in our country. The citizens are also responsible for these malfeasances. Do we need to wait for the government to sensitise us on the need to handle our naira notes with care? Think of how much it will cost the government to embark on naira notes sensitisation programme! The Ebola sensitisation programme has just ended. Do we know how much the government has to cough out for the Ebola sensitisation programme? We should think of how much the government spends daily on HIV/AIDS sensitisation programme, girl child education, immunisation programme, among others. Some sensitisation programmes are just unnecessary if the citizenries have only imbibed a sense of belonging right from the early stage. For every capital project executed by the government, there is also need for the authority to make provision for sensitisation on how to use the facility. If road is constructed, the government needs to ensure that it sensitises the populace on how to use it; if stadium is refurbished, governments need to sensitise sports lovers that you don’t need to destroy the stadium seats when your favourite teams are defeated. The thing is that when we have a clean culture as it obtains in other countries, then we will start to have clean notes.

Concluded.

 • Oluwafemi is a PhD student of University of Lagos.

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