Central Bank to Redesign the Naira

THISDAY Newspaper

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Lamido Sanusi, has revealed plans to redesign the country’s currency on a day President Goodluck Jonathan lauded the regulator’s banking reform.

Sanusi, who spoke at the official launch of the N50 note and gold coins golden jubilee commemorative currencies in Abuja yesterday, hinged the decision to redesign the bank notes on the need to reduce cost and enhance security.
The CBN governor also said the apex bank was working on new proposals to reintroduce coins into the economy.

“We will soon unfold proposals that should mark the beginning of the return of coins into circulation in the economy. The CBN has evolved plans that would enhance the efficiency and self-reliance of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSMPC) with a view to improving its performance in note printing,” Sanusi said.

The commemorative N50 note, which is the same design as the circulating N50, bears slight modifications in the form of the 50th anniversary logo, an iridescent gold band, and a goodwill message written in varnish.
It will be circulated alongside the existing N50 note while the commemorative coins, in 22-carat gold, will serve as gift items to some of the important dignitaries expected at the anniversary celebration.

Going down memory lane, Sanusi said: “Since the first Nigerian currency, denominated in pound, 10 shillings and five shillings were issued on July 1, 1959, it had undergone various transformations as the CBN evolved and as our circumstances improved.

“For instance, on July 1, 1965, the first series of banknotes were replaced with new banknotes, to commemorate the republic status of the country. Thereafter, in 1968, the bank issued a new set of banknotes to forestall the usage of illegally withdrawn notes from CBN Enugu, Port Harcourt and Benin branches during the civil war”.

The CBN governor noted that with the adoption of decimalisation in 1973, a new series of notes was introduced in naira and kobo. The new currencies, according to him, were in denominations of 10 naira, five naira, one naira, 25 kobo notes as well as 25 kobo, 10 kobo, five kobo, one kobo and half kobo coins.

Sanusai said: “In 1977, the N20 denomination, which bore the portrait of the late General Murtala Mohammed was issued into circulation and marked the first time that the portrait of a Nigerian citizen would be featured in our bank note. Subsequently, the portraits of eminent Nigerian citizens have graced our national currency.”

The CBN governor said the N1000 was issued in October 2005 with the portrait of Aliyu Mai-Borno and Clement Isong.
In 1979, the 10 naira, five naira, and one naira notes had the portraits of three eminent Nigerians, Alvan Ikoku, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Herbert Macaulay.

The N100 note with the portrait of Obafemi Awolowo was issued in December 1999, while the N200 note with the portrait Ahmadu Bello was launched in November 2000. The N500 was introduced into circulation in November 2000 with the portrait of Nnamdi Azikiwe.

Sanusi said: “The higher denominations were introduced as part of the bank’s effort at promoting effectiveness in its currency management and also to enhance efficiency in the nation’s payment system”.

He explained that to further reduce the currency management cost, “the lower denomination bank notes of N5, N10, and N50 were redesigned and introduced into circulation in February 2007. In addition, the polymer substrate was first used in the production of the Nigerian currency starting with N20 note while the rest of the lower denomination banknotes were subsequently reissued in polymer substrate in September 2009.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan, who also spoke at the event, urged the CBN to continue to work to consolidate on the economic gains so far recorded by the country.

Jonathan expressed the Federal Government’s support for the current financial sector reforms being carried out by the apex bank.

In a related development, the CBN Lagos State Branch Controller, Mr. Adekunle Ogunsanya, has advised bank users and other members of the public to accept the new N50 note.

He said that the currency would co-exist with other currencies in the country as legal tenders.

Ogunsanya disclosed this at the inauguration of the currency in Lagos few hours after the official launch in Abuja.
He also urged the public to approach their respective banks as well as the CBN for the commemorative notes
“The public should continue to accept all three of them as legal tender, and not reject any. The N50 commemorative note is a legacy to mark Nigeria’s 50th anniversary, because it is a noteworthy celebration, hence we picked the N50 rather than the N10 or N100 notes,” he said.

He added that the commemorative notes had been distributed to the various banks across the country after the launch by the Presidency.

Just as in the other polymer notes, the Branch Controller explained that the security features are so many, to make counterfeiting very difficult.

He said the various banks had been alerted to monitor the money brought by customers.
Ogunsanya added that the N50 note is unique because it is a symbol of unity, going by the portraits of people depicting various tribes of the nation, across gender.

He urged all to use the new notes well, commending the handling of other polymer notes so far, which he explained had vindicated the reasons for the change of the nation’s lower denominations - N5, N10, N20 and N50 from the paper notes.


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