It’s not a secret that Nigeria is a telenovela series, with twists, mysteries and turns at almost every point. Unfortunately, these plot twists never bring Nigerians the happy endings we want and at this point we’re tired of our character development arc.
On October 26, 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its plans to redesign the naira to combat counterfeiting and manage inflation. Nigerians weren’t too pleased by the news and even the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, didn’t like it. But at least we had hopes that maybe the makeover would be impressive.
Okay, what happened next?
When President Buhari unveiled the new notes on November 23, 2022, let’s just say the designs looked… interesting.
What did Nigerians say?
Nigerians were more disappointed than outraged, as these new notes looked like someone ran them through Snapchat filters.
During an interview on Channels Television, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, claimed the CBN spent about ₦218 billion on the new designs.
While we can’t say how accurate Sowore’s figures are, we know producing these new banknotes must be expensive. But could this money have been spent better? Let’s look at some alternatives.
There’s a saying amongst federal university students that, “Every generation experiences an ASUU strike.” It’s funny until you wake up one day and realise you’ve been in 100 level for two years. Just this year alone, federal universities were on strike for eight months. If some of the redesign fund was injected into the education sector, we’d have a better system.
Climate change is ruining the environment, and Nigeria is already feeling the brunt of it. This year, we faced one of the worst flooding disasters in our history, with over 600 deaths and 1.3 million people displaced. Unfortunately, the federal government’s response to this has been underwhelming. The victims would have appreciated some of the money the government used to redesign the banknotes.
Fix bad roads
“I’m going to repair bad roads,” has become a mantra for politicians. But once they get into power, they wash their hands off their campaign promises and pick them up four years later for another campaign.
We can’t say we’re shocked at the government’s decisions so far. We can only hope that with the coming 2023 elections, we’ll vote for people who can address the challenges Nigerians really care about.