By Dr. Faruq M. Abubakar
It caused quite a brouhaha when a piece of news on the cost of printing naira notes broke out earlier in the week. Soon, commentaries (and of course mockery of the current regime) dominated discussions, especially on social media. The comments were mostly portraying that the cost of printing the notes was high and not commensurate with the ‘value’ of the output.
It is disheartening to observe that even the supposedly informed people amongst us have joined the wagon in making a mockery of CBN and by extension, the FGN on the trending news of the cost of printing naira notes.
Until ‘we’ get rid of lazily reading headlines without reading the whole content of a news item, ‘we’ will continue to be misled by newspaper headlines and thus expose ‘our’ ignorance. Of course, because they are profit oriented businesses, newspapers often coin misleading/controversial headlines to attract buyers/subscribers/traffic.
The fact of the news is that the CBN had “spent ₦58.618 billion to print 2.518 billion Naira NOTES ” in the year 2020. Please note that the money expended had produced 2.518 PIECES of the Nigerian currency, NOT the value rather the VOLUME! Although there is no detail (in the news) about the denominations printed, however, the currency could be any of ₦1,000, ₦500, ₦200, ₦100, ₦50, ₦20, ₦10 or ₦5 notes or all of them. Notwithstanding which denomination was printed, the average cost of one (1) currency note, in this case, is ₦23.27 only, far less than the cost of coloured printing on 70grms A4 size paper.
Now just look at how sophisticated is the ₦aira, then compare it with the quality of an average wedding invitation card, vis a vis their cost. Someone should please help us ask a recently wedded groom how much it cost him to print that beautiful wedding IV.
Besides, those making mockery or celebrating the ‘failure’ of CBN/FGN on the ‘high’ cost of printing the naira notes could not read were the same newspaper reported that CBN was able to save ₦16.9 billion as against 2019’s ₦75.5 billion costs.
It is also disheartening to note that even experts in financial economics could not come out to educate layman like me and the general public on the fact that the cost of the currency notes so printed do not represent the actual value of the notes, rather the note is there as legal tender and medium of exchange of goods and services in an economy.
In the same vein, we should have been educated that the notes printed aren’t disposable goods such as takeaway packs or toilet paper that are used once and disposed in a trash bin, rather currency notes are being circulated as they serve the legal tender purpose mentioned above.
In any case, the cost (₦23.27 per naira note) isn’t in any way exorbitant that could warrant such outcry. Experts in financial economics have the moral responsibility to come up with an objective analysis of the subject, with a view to educate the public and douse the needless fuss.
Dr. Faruq writes from Bauchi and can be reached via:[email protected]