Some Nigerians have decried the widespread circulation of mutilated naira notes in the country and called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reverse the trend and ensure better management of the nation’s currencies.
In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos, they noted that several cases of misunderstandings had occurred among citizens while carrying out business transactions with the tattered and dirty notes.
While some said the paper notes are contaminated and can possibly make one ill, others decried the use of the polymer banknotes, which are easily defaced.
NAN reports that the CBN on Feb. 28, 2007 announced the introduction of polymer versions of N5, N10, N20 and N50 notes.
However, 11 years after, many Nigerians now reject the polymer notes citing its poor quality and short life span that make it difficult to carry out transactions with them.
Mr Tunde Okeowo, a financial expert, said the CBN should consider bringing back the coins, and that its absence had resulted in the negative impact on transactions, which had a multiplier effect on the economy.
Okeowo identified inflation as part of the negative effects of the absence of coins, especially as people were no longer bothered about collecting balance after paying for products.
“On this recurring issue of scarcity of clean notes, especially N100, I advise the CBN to look into issuing some new naira notes in densely populated states like Lagos in order to make it more acceptable for use.
He also called for continuous enlightenment to educate traders on reasons and ways of preserving the notes.
Mrs Tolu Ajibade, a civil servant, said the prevalence of dirty and mutilated naira notes was appalling, and that the N200 note was gradually becoming unfit like the N100 notes.
She said many Nigerians have resigned themselves to the reality of possessing and transacting business with dirty naira notes.
“I tell you, they are appalling. As a nursing mother, I am always scared of touching those notes because it is very glaring that those naira notes, particularly the N100 are contaminated,” said Ajibade.
She said while the CBN had been sensitising Nigerians on the handling of the naira notes, there should be effective enforcement of relevant laws to curtail mishandling of the naira.
A bus driver, who preferred anonymity, said the rejection of the defaced polymer notes and the dirty N100 notes by passengers greatly affected his business.
According to him, a day hardly passes by without verbal exchange which sometimes degenerated into fights because of dirty naira notes and faded polymer notes.
“I think I prefer the paper naira notes to the polymer ones because it does not fade easily like the polymer. The only disadvantage of the paper note is that it gets torn easily,” he said.
Besides, Dr Foluwakemi Ekiogiawe, a medical practitioner, raised concerns over the implications of regular contact with mutilated notes.
Ekiogiawe said apart from the economic implications of poor currency handling, it could lead to a myriad of adverse medical problems.
She explained that regular contact could result in the transfer of germs from one person to another, and that it could result to gastrointestinal infections, which often leads to frequent purging, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever among others.
“This is seen mostly in children who put things indiscriminately into their mouths. They could serve as allergies to people with immune hypersensitivity like asthma triggering an immunologic attack.
“This happens when the individual comes in contact with the allergen in the form of or attached to the notes. These attacks could range from mild to fatal,” she said.