Home Politics Naira redesign – A case of ‘see finish’

Naira redesign – A case of ‘see finish’

Naira redesign – A case of ‘see finish’

On the 26th of October 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its decision to redesign the 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes. The CBN governor Godwin Emefiele said the redesign is in accordance with Section two (b) of the CBN Act 2007.

The apex bank said currency management has continued to face daunting challenges in recent time and have continued to grow with consequences for the integrity of the bank and the country. 

The primary challenges the bank noted were the significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public with statistics revealing that over 80 percent of currency in circulation is outside the vaults of commercial banks. The worsening shortage of clean and fit banknotes and the increasing ease and risk of counterfeiting which is evident in security reports.

The CBN believes that the increased development in photographic technology and advancements in printing devices has increased the rate of counterfeiting which is now done with ease and predominantly with the higher denominations of N500 and N1000. 

According to global standards, the Central Bank is to redesign, produce and circulate new local legal tender every five to eight years yet the naira has not been redesigned in the last 20 years the CBN revealed.

The CBN further stated that “On the basis of these trends, problems, and facts, and in line with Sections 19, subsections a and b of the CBN Act 2007, the management of the CBN sought and obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of banknotes at N200, N500, and N1,000 levels.

“In line with this approval, we have finalized arrangements for the new currency to begin circulation on December 15, 2022. The new and existing currencies shall remain legal tender and circulate together until January 31, 2023, when the existing currencies shall seize to be legal tender.”

Nigerians have expressed divergent views on the redesign of the naira notes, while some are insisting it is long overdue, others feel it won’t make any significant difference. Taking to their different social media accounts to express their stance on the announcement made by the apex bank, some believe it is another avenue for government officials to launder more funds.

Nigerians anticipated the said redesign as they wondered what the new design would look like while hoping that the CBN would not use photos of any current government official. They went further to create amateur notes with photos of some comedians to mimic the pending redesign. 

Meanwhile, the CBN had said it would release the newly redesigned note to the general public on December 15, 2022. “In line with this approval, we have finalized arrangements for the new currency to begin circulation on December 15, 2022. The new and existing currencies shall remain legal tender and circulate together until January 31, 2023, when the existing currencies shall seize to be legal tender.”

However, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, November 23, 2022, unveiled the newly ‘redesigned naira banknotes at the presidential villa ahead of the release in December. 

Was there a redesign? No. there was rather a repainting. The features of the old notes remained untouched. What the CBN did is a typical case of ‘ see finish ‘. See finish is Nigerian slang for over-familiarity, when you become too familiar with someone or a thing, abuse is most times inevitable because you already know the reaction that would come. 

One Feranmi on Twitter with the handle @feranmi captured my thoughts exactly, “I am just wondering what this government takes Nigerians for, because how can you just pour ink on naira notes and claim that you have redesigned it and even dragged the President into the charade of shame. This is not a redesign; it’s colour change. All designs, font type,s and positions are the same. Please if I’m wrong, a professional designer should correct me. All I can see is colour change.”

On second thought, could we be overreacting? In its press briefing, the CBN governor said the redesign is according to global best practice, could it be that when it comes to the CBN and issues surrounding banknotes the term ‘design’ is entirely a different thing?

Just as Feranmi noted in the tweet, every feature including the font size of the banknotes that were ‘redesigned’ did not change. I think the federal government and the CBN need to educate us on what redesign means in the banking and minting sector in other to save us the stress next time.

But we have been bothered about the redesigning, oh; sorry I mean recolouring or repainting, anyone you prefer; we have not discussed how much it cost the CBN to change the colours of these bank notes.

I think we need to divide ourselves into two, the first half will continue to help us understand redesigning according to the CBN, while the second half will inquire about how much it cost the CBN to change the colours of the naira notes. 

I think Nigerians deserve to know if the ink for the recolouring was imported or not and how much it cost the apex bank to make this change. But again, the ministry of finance had earlier distanced itself from the said redesign. The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Zainab Ahmed said the CBN did not carry her ministry along in its plan to roll out new N200, N500, and N1000.

“We were not consulted at the ministry of finance by the CBN on the planned naira redesigning and cannot comment on it as regards merits or otherwise,” the minister told Senators at the senate chamber. Who then do we ask for the budget for the ‘redesigning’?  

Author: Kangmwa Gofwen

Lagos Bureau Chief, Nigeria