News / Africa

    Nigerian Currency Controversy: Do Bigger Bills Make Fatter Pockets?

    A man walks past a promotional banner showing a photograph of a pile of Nigerian naira along a road in Lagos November 24, 2010.A man walks past a promotional banner showing a photograph of a pile of Nigerian naira along a road in Lagos November 24, 2010.
    x
    A man walks past a promotional banner showing a photograph of a pile of Nigerian naira along a road in Lagos November 24, 2010.
    A man walks past a promotional banner showing a photograph of a pile of Nigerian naira along a road in Lagos November 24, 2010.
    Heather Murdock
    Last summer the Nigerian Central Bank announced plans to introduce new currency worth five times the value of the current largest bill.  The move set off a torrent of controversy with critics saying it would allow corrupt officials to line their pockets with five times more money.  Now the currency has been shelved and lawmakers are reviewing the powers of the central bank.  

    When they first announced the new currency, a 5,000 Naira note, worth about $30, it seemed like an innocuous story.  Economists said it was a good idea.  It would save money in printing and storing cash and promote a more modern economy. 

    After the announcement, Ugo Okoroafor, a bank spokesperson, held press conferences and took interviews, enthusiastically introducing the public to the new money.

    “Let’s not look at Nigeria now.  We are moving into a society where there will be vending machines.  There are parking meters that are coming up.  The rail lines are coming back to life.  These are areas where coins are very important," he said. 

    Transparency International, Sub-Saharan Africa regionTransparency International, Sub-Saharan Africa region
    x
    Transparency International, Sub-Saharan Africa region
    Transparency International, Sub-Saharan Africa region
    What was initially a rumble from people who didn’t like the idea quickly turned into a roar. Lawmakers and political analysts said if money was worth more, crooked officials could haul away more simply because it was less bulky. 

    Wole Olaoye has been a journalist in Nigeria for almost four decades. He sits on the editorial board of one national newspaper and writes columns for another.  He was and remains an outspoken critic of the new currency. 

    "If you have a 5,000 Naira bill, the politician is going to dance because he’s going to be happy. It’s going to make it easy for him to carry his bribes around, either bribes that he’s giving people or bribes that he’s receiving.  And we don’t kid ourselves that this doesn’t happen.  It happens on a daily basis," he said. 
     
    Olaoye calls corruption "a way of life" in Nigeria that can be found everywhere from street cops to high-level officials.  Earlier this year, lawmakers issued a report showing that $6.8 billion worth of Nigerian public funds had been stolen by oil moguls and officials between 2009 and 2011.

    As a result of the currency controversy, the National Assembly held a hearing and declared it would investigate the matter, even though the bank by law had sole authority to update the currency.

    In late September, President Goodluck Jonathan told the bank to halt the currency plan and, amid other controversies, lawmakers are now looking into ways to reduce the authority of the Central Bank. 

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora