New N100 Note Slows Transactions In Lagos
BARELY two months after the introduction of the new N100 note, traders in Lagos have expressed concern that the feeble nature of the legal tender is slowing down transactions in markets.
The note was unveiled in November — but began circulating in December — last year, as part of initiatives to mark the country’s centenary celebration. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the note was designed with enhanced security features that serve as resistance against counterfeiting, adding that countries such as Morocco, Russia and Costa Rica had done likewise to mark special events in their history.
However, The Guardian checks in Lagos markets suggest that traders are having a hard time trading with the note. Many of the traders complain, among other things, that the feeble nature of the note causes customers to shun it.
A trader in a community market in Somolu, Mrs. Julie, said that her customers reject the note at the point of transaction and others, who accept it, do so grudgingly, noting that it slows down business.
She said: “The note is not moving business. My customers complain before they collect it. The other day, I was on the Island and at the point of paying for goods, the trader said she doesn’t accept the money because other customers reject it. They are rejecting the money. I don’t know.
“People are just not carried along with the change of the note. Nothing was communicated to us, especially those of us in the markets. Maybe governments should have stuck with the designs of the N10, N20 and N50. If I were asked, I would want them to maintain the design, but make it in polymer.”
According to her, in order not to be caught napping, she spends the note as quickly as possible.
A food vendor in the area, who wished to be identified as Victoria, said she doesn’t understand why people would reject money, and that the case with the N100 note was disturbing.
Alleging that the cause of the disaffection is due to the difference with other polymer notes, she said the government got it wrong with the design of the note.
According to her, “the old note is okay. Most of my customers don’t accept the new note, because it gets torn easily. No one wants the money to get old in his or her hands, so, they spend it as quickly, as it gets to them. Nobody even had any knowledge of the celebrations they claim they used it for.”
For Ezekiel Akpan, a trader in Oshodi, the note is just another means of trade and shouldn’t cause problems. He said he doesn’t understand why people would reject money, be it a good or bad note, as the economic situation doesn’t leave anyone with a choice.
According to him, “why will people reject money? Maybe rich people, who have enough, will; but for me, I am struggling to make ends meet, I don’t reject money. Sincerely, it is the first time I am hearing of this. Can these people produce the money they are rejecting?”
He offered to exchange the old note with the new one if only to have a feel of it. Asked what he thought of the development, Akpan said though he didn’t hear anything about the release of the note, he had no option than to trade with it.
The introduction of the note also elicited mixed reactions from the organised private sector. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) described the move as waste of resources, especially, as “printing of new currency is usually a capital-intensive venture, and raises questions as to how the CBN hopes to grapple with the economic implications of redesigning and printing the new bank notes.”
Echoing this view, an economist and Associate Professor of Public Finance at the University of Lagos, Akoka, (UNILAG), Femi Saibu, said much as the development was another waste of public resources, it would have no real effect on transactions. He noted that the government was ill advised as “available records show that almost all central bank governors introduced new notes in their time. Thus, the move was another misadventure in the country’s policies.”
He said: “I have had a personal experience of this, too. I gave a trader the note and he rejected it. I had to explain to him that the note was newly introduced by the CBN. The government did not carry the people along at all. If the note had been introduced during the festivities marking the centenary celebrations, people would have understood and welcomed it. But it was introduced months after the celebration and that is why it seems everybody is confused and is rejecting it.”
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