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The abandoned Nigerian coins
MOST Nigerians above 40 years of age grew up knowing and spending coins as legal tender in Nigeria, starting from manilas to cowries to pence and finally kobo.
Although still a legal tender, currently, most Nigerians do not appreciate the use of coins and have stopped using them.
The coins used to be in the denomination of ½ kobo, 1 kobo, 2 kobo, 5 kobo, 10 kobo, 25 kobo and 50 kobo.
Investigations carried out by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that the use of coins as a means of exchange has its merits and demerits. Scholars have posited that an economy which allows for the use of coins in its system would make life better for its nationals as smaller units of money would be available for business transactions and prices of goods would not have to be hiked.
It has also been argued that the availability of smaller denominations of money in an economy would discourage capital flight and illegal exportation of such country's money while such currency would appreciate against the dollar as a means of exchange.
Likewise, simple transactions, which would make general accounting easier, would be made possible and the weight of the coins would dissuade cash robbers but the use of cash would, however, work against the cash-less policy which Nigeria is currently test-running.
Popularly called Mama Laide, Mrs Adunni Folowosaye, recounted that as a young girl who schooled in Lagos, her mother used to string five kobo coins to her school uniform for her lunch. “That was way back in 1973 and things were so cheap then. After lunch, I still had money to buy fruits, biscuits and sweets. A big grape was sold for one kobo. But since the use of coins was abandoned, the prices of the items we were buying with coins have soared,” she said.
Corroborating her, Mr Toyin Alatise said since the use of coins had been abandoned, the prices of goods had soared because sellers summed up the cost of their goods to the nearest naira note. “If the government would not only reintroduce coins but also enforce its use, life will be better for us and the economy would improve greatly,” he also said.
Speaking on why she does not use the coins and would not encourage the Federal Government to reintroduce it into the system, Mrs Odunola Ajagbe, a business woman, who transacts her business in the neighbouring countries, Togo, Ghana and Republic of Benin respectively; said coins were weighty and “it will be fool-hardy for any business person to use it for the purpose of business transaction since one will need sacks of it to complete a transaction.”
In his own opinion, a male banker with one of the new generation banks, who did not want his name in print, said that the major problem with Nigerians was their attitude to coins. “The general consensus is that Nigerians do not like coins. If the people won't use coins, even though it is a legal tender, why bother to reintroduce it?,” he asked.
The banker also noted that while it would amount to a waste of resources to change the naira already in circulation to coins, “Which will not be used anyway”, he also said that since the nation was heading towards a cashless society, the reintroduction of coins would not help achieve that goal since no Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and Point of Sale (PoS) services accepted coins.
Mr James Adeyemi, an event planner, said Nigerians love partying and spraying naira notes at ceremonies, adding that if the government was genuinely interested in stamping out the act of spraying naira notes at ceremonies, then, it should reintroduce and enforce the use of coins as legal tender.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria's portal, Nigeria had used various forms of money including cowries and manilas before the establishment of the West African Currency Board which was responsible for issuing currency notes in Nigeria from 1912 to 1959.
“On July 1st, 1959 the Central Bank of Nigeria issued the Nigerian currency notes and coins and the West African Currency Board notes and coins were withdrawn. It was not until 1st July, 1962 however, that legal tender status was withdrawn from West African Currency Board. In 1963, Nigeria became a Republic, and this eventually led to the changing of the banknotes in 1965 to reflect the country's new status. The notes were again changed in 1968 following the misuse of the country's currency notes, during the civil war.
“In 1973, coins were introduced in denominations of ½, 1, 5, 10 and 25 kobo, with the ½ and 1 kobo in bronze and the higher denominations in cuprous-nickel. The ½ kobo coins were only minted that year. In 1991, smaller 1, 10 and 25 kobo coins were issued in copper-plated-steel, along with nickel-plated-steel 50 kobo and 1 naira. On 28 February 2007, new coins were issued in denominations of 50 kobo, 1 and 2 naira, with the 1 and 2 naira bimetallic. Some Nigerians expressed concerns over the usability of the N2 coin. The deadline for exchanging the old currency was set at 31 May 2007. The central bank stated that the ½ to 25 kobo coins were withdrawn from circulation with effect from 28 February 2007.
“On February 28th 2007, as part of the economic reforms, N50, N20, N10 and N5bank-notes and N1 and 50K coins, were reissued in new designs. While a new denomination N2 coin was introduced.”
“In essence, 50 kobo, N1 and N2 coins are still legal tender in Nigeria currently but they are nowhere to be found. The banks do not even give them out to customers. It is not as if they are not available in the banks but nobody asks for them since there is nowhere to spend them.” Mr Adeyanju Akosile, a thrift collector said.
He however enjoined the government to ensure that Nigerians comply with the use of coins as legal tender if it would make headway in the reintroduction of the use of the smaller denominations.Share