Have you been to shops and buy things and they tell you no change? Been to canteens to eat and they said no change? Or acquired any service and they said no change? Don’t you find it vexing enough? But can we blame them?
Yes and no!
Well, the reasons for this exasperating dilemma isn’t far fetched. The slim fitted Nigerian economy which is voraciously catapulting the lower denominations into extinction is a main rationale behind the quagmire.
In the Nigerian society, #5 and #10 are now mere currencies with absolutely ameliorated power. #5 can get nothing while the latter can get just a sachet water or a candy. For a currency that was once powerful than the US dollar, it’s saddening.
Our banks are not making issues any better. A large percentage of the public who makes use of Banks withdraw through the Automatic Teller Machine. The Machine dispenses mostly #1000 ,then #500 sometimes.#200 is very rare to get dispensed through ATMs. Which automatically brings an imbalance in the circulation of currency denominations in the county. Instead of dispensing the big boys, we need to start getting smaller denominations from Banks.
The state of our #100 notes are an eyesore. You’re presented an #100 note and you’ll almost feel like dashing the person the change. A lot are dirty, torn etc especially the unneeded centenary note printed during the Jonathan administration.
We do not only need revolution in the leadership style. Our currency also needs revolution. Apart from the fact that the value of our currency compared to the good old days is like a goat and a cow respectively, we also need to gain some respect for our currency by having presentable currencies.
Even banks dispense dirty notes sometimes. What makes is worse is the air conditioner conditioning the germs. Let’s save our currencies. Let’s end the “No change” mantra.
But how do we end it?
We need to visit the roots of the problem. Why do we have the bigger boys in circulation. There’s no other reason than the slim fitted economy. Once again, before we can tackle the slim fitted economy, we have to trace the roots of the problem. What’s the rationale behind our poor fate??
We have a lot of reasons but I’ll like to discuss just two because as a mass communicator, I need to consider the convenience of my audience. They are, the monopoly of the Nigerian economy and lack of scale of preference.
There is a popular saying that goes thus; “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Nigeria has failed to learn from history.
Economically and Politically, Nigeria is a microcosm or should I say a larger version of the great Old Oyo Empire (limiting the scope to Africa). The Old Oyo Empire made economic blunders which led to it’s economic recession, downfall and political apocalypse.
At the peak of its expansion, Oyo relied on the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade with Dahomey and Badagry being main slave ports under the feets of the Alaafin.
However, this business turned out to be lucrative for the empire that they monopolised the economy. Slave trade was the real deal.
However, they started counting their losses in the 1770s when Lord Mansfield passed a judgement that abloished slave trade in the British Empire (which America was part of). It was too late for Oyo to shift focus to another source of revenue. Revenue stopped flowing into the government’s purse and eventually, vassal states started to break away.
The center wasn’t able to afford the strong military Orompoto started. The Calvary force was gone . It went on and on till the capital was finished off by the Fulanis. Now, if they hadn’t put all their eggs in one basket, probably, Oyo might have been a country today.
Nigeria is threading the same path. It’s crude oil this time around. Although, President Buhari is making the shift but I feel he is being sluggish with it. He needs to accelerate faster.
There are approximately 7 billion people in the world. Not all 7 billion people need crude oil products to survive but I can assure you 99.999 percent of that population needs agricultural products to survive. Then, why can’t we tap this opportunity???
Hectares of land keep wasting. Let’s employ these lands. Cultivate and export. This would only not increase revenue but reduce unemployment rate.
When export increases, the Naira begins to gain value and the small boys like #50 downwards begin to grow up. They begin to matter in the society. They stop being nonentities, they stop being rejects of beggars. I also promised to talk on lack of scale of preference.
What we purchase determines the fate of the economy. A country that doesn’t have a scale of preference is doomed. Let me use Kwara State for an example. For those that stay in Ilorin, the construction works going at Garin – Alimi shouldn’t be a strange thing to you. However, we all need to know that in Nigeria, only Lagos State doesn’t owe salaries.
Therefore, Kwara is owing workers salary.
That should be paramount in the mind of any sane leader which is to make sure his people are well fed. How would hungry people appreciate a project? Have we forgotten that a hungry man is an angry man? The government should learn to priotise only things that are meant to be a priority.
Same with Nigeria, the lower class in the classy Nigerian society has increased in poverty rates. Rather, what our esteemed senators are interested in is purchasing new cars. Pressing for car allowance.
Recently, over $460m was used to purchase helicopters by the Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance without the approval of the Senate. I’m so sure these helicopters are probably used for over 20 years already by the sellers.
If $460m was pumped into the economy and we have more cash in circulation, I can assure that prices would drop, which automatically increases monetary value. This means the small boys gain recognition again.
I was viewing a facebook page with an historical scope last week and I saw an old #1 note. I laughed so hard then I cascaded into a lugubrious ambience when I ruminated on how the country has been downgraded.
What we need in Nigeria now is necessarily not a young president but a president with sense and vision. Someone with realistic ideas not someone that doesn’t have idea how being in a political post is contesting for President. This is no time for experiment.
Let’s all get our Perman Voters Cards and turn the fate of this country around.
Jolayemi Farouq is a student of Mass Communication, currently in 200l.
An extract of King’s College, Lagos. Loves to write and analyse contemporary issues.