Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Nigerians Urged to Respect Their Currency
The Nigerian authorities insist that citizens show more respect for the country's currency, the naira.
At weddings any self-respecting guest will stick banknotes onto the forehead of the dancers, musicians or the bride. Flamboyant types throw them by the handful to be sure their generosity gets captured on video.
With the exception of some new low-denomination polymer notes, naira bills are normally grubby, torn and smelly.
Fear of thieves prompts many people to store the notes in their underwear or their socks. With temperatures of 35 C (95 F) in the shade, small wonder the notes do not smell fresh.
The Central Bank's five commandments are as follows:
"Do not store the naira indecently". The photo shows a young woman stuffing a wad of notes inside her bra. The bank instead bids "Neatly arrange your money in pouches" and shows the same girl slipping those very notes into a backpacker-style money-belt.
Other commandments are: "Do not squeeze the naira, do not stain the naira, do not deface the naira."
But the point that has most amused or outraged Nigerians is "Do not spray the naira".
A picture of a wealthy Nigerian woman throwing handfuls of naira over the bride and groom amid great merriment at a wedding is juxtaposed with a photo of the right way to do things - hand the money over in an envelope.
Two years ago when the bill with the "respect the naira" clause was brought before parliament, the senator presenting it had barely finished speaking when several senators started ripping up copies of the draft bill in protest.
Just before leaving office in May 2007 Olusegun Obasanjo signed the bill into law. But Nigerians have carried on just as before, using naira bills to note down phone numbers or clean their ears and nails, wrote Reuben Abati of the Guardian.