Nigeria's currency, the Naira, is one of the symbols of the nation's identity. But unfortunately, it has not been treated with the respect it deserves.
Nigerians abuse the Naira notes in various ways. Against the laws of the land, some Nigerians are still in the habit of spraying the naira on newly wedded couples, as well as at other public functions. The resultant effect is that people end up marching the notes while the celebrations continue.
In some other instances, people hawk the notes in the public, without any fear. They either exchange clean naira notes for dirty or torn notes, or sell clean notes to willing buyers who need them to show off at parties, also for a fee.
There are also others who use the naira notes as their writing pad. When in need of what to use to take down phone numbers or other quick information, the naira notes come handy. And they use it without blinking.
Clean Naira notes are also hawked or sold at event centres , motor parks and bus stops in different parts of Port Harcourt. It has been said that N150 is charged by the vendors on every N1000 mint exchanged with old and dirty notes. The charges, according to reports, differ according to the area and the personality of the patrons.
In high brow areas such as the Government Reserved Areas (GRA) , and events organized by social bigwigs , N200 and above is charged on every N1000 mint Naira note.
Sections 20 and 21 of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act, 2007 makes hawking or selling of Naira notes an offence and is punishable by N50,000 fine or six months imprisonment or both
We are worried that this trade sometimes go on in the presence of law enforcement agents, who are supposed to arrest defaulters. In fact, some highly placed Nigerians are also known to have been abetting the criminal act.
Our belief is that if nothing is done to check this trend, the illicit trade in Naira notes will continue. This is a huge embarrassment to Nigeria as a country. It is doubtful, if there is any other country in the world where their currency is as abused as it is done in Nigeria.
We challenge the nation's law enforcement agents to live to their calling and ensure that those who indulge in this act are arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law. If this impunity is allowed to continue, Nigeria will remain a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
Those who aid and abet the sale of clean naira notes to the vendors, from the banks, should also be apprehended and handed an equal punishment. And the time for that is now.