The N5,000 Note Déjà vu By Chido Onumah

Those who are sounding jubilant and triumphant over President Jonathan’s decision to “suspend” the introduction of the N5,000 note should read and reread the report in the Guardian (Friday, Sept 21, 2012). It is déjà vu all over again!

According to the Guardian, “The Senate yesterday expressed displeasure over the way the Executive arm handles the resolutions of the Upper Chamber, saying it threatens the mutual respect and understanding with which the two arms of government are expected to perform their constitutional duties for the progress of the country.

“Essentially, the lawmakers decried the statement credited to the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, in the media to the effect that the Senate resolutions concerning the controversial N5000 note were not binding.

“Coincidentally, the government disclosed that it was stepping down the introduction of the N5,000 note by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Presidential Spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, responding to inquiries last night, said “the introduction is being suspended for now to enable the CBN do more enlightenment on the issue.

“He further said: ‘Yes, President Jonathan has directed that the implementation of the new N5,000 note be suspended for now. This is to enable the apex bank to do more in terms of making Nigerians understand why it proposed it in the first place. So, for now, the full implementation is on hold.”

It is important that we read between the lines. The government has not said it is abandoning its harebrained decision to introduce the N5,000 note. What it is saying is that Nigerians, in their typical slow way of appreciating government policies, need time to be educated on why they should understand this particular government policy with all its detrimental effect. So the new note is “being suspended for now to enable the CBN do more enlightenment on the issue”.

For Nigerians, an idle and angry bunch, distracted by Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry, whose favorite past time is to oppose anything the government says, a few extra billion on mass enlightenment by the CBN won’t be a wasted effort.

That process of enlightenment started yesterday via Reuben Abati’s pronouncement.  Who says the government can’t turn around and introduce the note by October 1, 2012, and if not, by January 1, 2013? Its action of January 1, 2012, is still fresh in our memories.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”