When Godwin Emefiele was appointed the substantive Central Bank Governor in June 2014 to replace Mrs. Sarah Alade, many people were not too enthused about it. For Goodluck Jonathan, Emefiele was a safe pair of hands who wasn’t likely to rock the boat like Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Nobody needed to inform Emefiele that his brief as head of the Central Bank did not include policy statements that painted the government in bad light. Alhaji Sanusi had to be sacked because he was behaving like a politician, or so the government of the day wanted us to believe.
Godwin Emefiele had lots of experience in the banking sector. He had reached the very top at Zenith Bank. So the position of Nigeria’s number 1 banker felt like putting a round peg in a similarly shaped hole. He fitted perfectly.
There are lots of things one could say about his performance as governor of the Central Bank in the last 4 years. He has gone about his job without frills. This is exactly what Nigerians expect from bankers.
There is this sight that welcomes me each time I open my wardrobe. On the edge of the top shelf are piles of mutilated 100 Naira notes. I can’t spend them because they are so ugly they make an old witch look like a beauty queen. I feel I would be cheating somebody by giving them those notes as payment. Don’t ask me how I managed to get so many bad notes.
At first, I thought I was just unlucky. But as it turned out, the problem is endemic across the country. Traders and other businesses that depend on cash for everyday transactions are not finding the situation funny.
Many times, simple transactions are canceled due to the absence of these notes to give others as change. The ones available are unrecognizable as legal tender that even some banks reject them. But somehow, they are still in circulation.
Replacing old notes
The Central Bank is charged with replacing notes with new ones. Everybody knows that. In the case of the N100 notes, nobody can remember when new notes were printed and released to the public. Ask those people who love spraying money at weddings and other occasions. They now have to do their thing with other denominations. 100 notes are the most popular for spraying; in case you are wondering.
So the question is, why has the Central Bank refused to introduce new notes? And for that matter, why are these ugly notes still in circulation.
The process of replacing old notes is rather simple. The commercial banks are supposed to collect these notes, sort and send them to the Central Bank. When the apex bank receives these bad notes, they are destroyed and an equal amount of new ones introduced into the economy through the commercial banks.
That is straightforward, right? But this is Nigeria where even the most mundane of tasks are made to look like some complex trick by an accomplished magician. Somebody somewhere is not doing their job.