‘Spray’ and be jailed – The Nation

  • A good attempt to preserve the Naira

If the Bankers Committee succeeds in banning ‘spraying’ of money at parties, then it would have gone a long way in reducing the abuses to which the Naira, the country’s currency, has been subjected over the years. The committee warned after its meeting in Lagos on  October 4 that those in the habit of ‘spraying’ at parties should desist or risk N50,000 fine or six months imprisonment straight from the scene of the offence, the parties; or both. Those hawking the currency or writing on it, or defacing it however also face similar penalties. Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) spokesman, Isaac Okorafor said the police and the Federal Ministry of Justice would be involved in the operation.

We welcome this decision; as a matter of fact, it is long overdue. Many people treat the Naira as if it is ordinary piece of paper, the way they trample on it at social parties, in the process of ‘spraying’. Hardly can one get crisp Naira notes, particularly the lower denominations in the banking halls these days. Unlike in the past when just anybody who walked in to time would leave the banking halls with such notes fresh from the mint.

Rather, the new notes are sold to people (by some unscrupulous bankers) who in turn sell them to buyers whose intention is to make statement that they have ‘arrived’ by ‘spraying’ celebrators at parties. By the time scapegoats are made of some of the buyers, it would reduce the appetite for such bad behaviour. This is beause when there are no buyers, the sellers would know that the market is over. They will find something better to do.

To say that the Naira is abused is an understatement. In most other parts of the world, people neatly put their currencies in pouches such that years after such notes have been in circulation, they are almost as good as new. But here, people handle the Naira in a carefree manner. Traders and artisans have little or no respect for it as they just squeeze it carelessly wherever they keep their proceeds. Even many educated elite that one expects to know better are some of the worst culprits in this abuse of the currency. In the past, bank cashiers used to deface the currency by writing directly on the notes instead of the wrapper as they do nowadays.

But then, the banks must check themselves first before beaming the searchlight on others. If there are no colluding bank staff to release the mint-fresh notes to people that they know are going to trade with them, the market for such business would disappear. As a matter of fact, this is where to begin the war against the abuse of the Naira. It is important that this source must first be dealt with to reduce the burden of implementation of the new policy. Even for other laws that are relatively easier to enforce, implementation has been a challenge. Not to talk of this aspect of an age-long tradition that has been accepted as a way of life in the country.

How many mobile courts do we intend to have to cover the nooks and crannies of our vast country?However, for this policy to succeed, there must be no sacred cows. As a matter of fact, the lessons would be better learnt when attention is focused more on the influential persons in the society.

All said, however, the new policy does not preclude continual enlightenment of the citizenry on how to handle the national currency. Moreover, there are health risks when cash is handled the way we do here. Even the cost of replacement is high because the lifespan of the currency will be reduced as a result of the shoddy handling. No one is saying people should not give cash gifts at ceremonies. Rather, the message is that this should be well parceled in envelopes and handed over to the beneficiary. This is not only decent, it is more dignifying.

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