Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, promised us a redesign of the N1000, N500 and N200 currency notes. Instead, what we got were the old notes in new colours.
Newer, uglier colours.
The N500 retained its old features but became greener, the new N1000 note looks like a poor imitation of an old N50 note albeit bigger, and the new N200 is a cross between the N10 note and something from decades past. It came out purplish. Or whatever that colour is, seeing as this writer is unapologetically colour blind.
To redesign means to design something again in a different way. It means you alter what was, to come up with something remarkably different. It means to alter processes and actions to come up with a refreshingly new product.
Emefiele’s new bank notes look as though they were just diced in new inks and voila! There was no creativity, no imagination, nada!! The only difference between the old notes and the new ones–at least on the surface–are fresh colours.
A couple of persons on social media have joked that the CBN’s redesign project was like using a Snapchat filter to alter colours. Others say the end product of the redesign project is akin to what happens when you toy with the settings on Canva.
Yet, billions of Naira was appropriated for this redesign project. At the very least, hire the best people to come up with a redesign if you’ve got enormous resources at your beck and call.
In summary, the redesign was a lazy man’s job. We expected sleeker, smaller, modern products. We expected products imbued with new security features. To hear the CBN governor speak, the only reasons for this redesign project was because it was long overdue and because there is just so much money outside the banking system.
This, essentially, was a move to beat the hoarders, the currency speculators and the money launderers who have stashed huge amounts of Naira notes in soak-away pits, septic tanks and underground channels, while playing a huge role in further devaluing the local currency.
However, if what was promised was a redesign, a redesign should have been delivered. This was a re-colouration project and nothing more–and at tax payers’ expense no less. We just dressed our old, worthless bank notes in new apparel. To call this a redesign would be a misnomer, an anomaly, an error in the fine art of christening. A redesign is not a filter update.
In the final analysis, whether old or new, what the Naira needs to do for every Nigerian is appreciate in value. At the moment, the nation’s local currency is embarrassingly worthless, amid spiralling inflation.
It would be nice if the CBN and the federal government can save the Naira from itself with robust fiscal and monetary policies like turning the entire economy into production and export hubs, as opposed to an import-dependent one.
Even the scripture cautions against putting new wine in old wineskins.
If the Naira appreciates in value and its purchasing power is strengthened, no one would really care if it is blue, green, red, crimson or purple. What’s in a name? Nah, scratch that. What’s in new colours?