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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


When the polymer banknote system was first introduced some few years ago into our financial system, precisely 2007, it won the hearts of many. We gave it our welcome claps and ovations, we were also agog for it. It gave a new look to our #20 naira note, as it was the first note that was first changed into polymer. It did not only give the said note refulgent beauty and peculiar uniqueness. It gave it a seemingly protection from the harsh handling that are used to handling our banknotes. How stark wrong were we proved to have been as time gets spent and our moral starved manner climbs down steeply from mountain of retardness to valley of deterioration.
At first, we thought nothing could make it wear a disgusting and irritating look. It was said that not even the moist that oozes from breasts cupped in tight bras, the suffocating heat that causes rashes to the scrotum carefully packed in pants or the way it is mangled, squeezed and tied at the tail of our wrappers would ever ‘diminish’ its facial value. We were later given a bitter concoction to gulp when the new polymer notes (#20) began to lose its colour from rough handedness; it faded in colour like a new dyed cloth would fade after its first dip in water.
The first time I saw this rare artistic work that our polymer note has turned out to be was in a commercial bus. I never thought it was the same #20 naira polymer banknote that was introduced some months ago. This happened after a short time from the date of its inception. I was more surprised when someone paid his fare with a faded and twisted #20 polymer note. The spittle in my mouth became so bitter that I could not swallow as I wrinkled my head at the attitude of indifference, which the bus conductor wore like an expensive garb when he collected it without hesitation or questioning the giver. He quickly inserted it into the avalanche of folded banknotes in his left hand, which included various banknotes of the country with amusing tenacity. I shrugged helplessly as it would be of no benefit if I raise a dust of contempt. I had been once told that you do not argue with a mad man when you are sane, if you do; the line of partition between sanity and insanity would be too thin to distinguish you from the mad man. No one I later thought would understand the hate I had for the wriggled called polymer. Everybody’s mind in the bus was differently fixed on where they were going. I later inferred that the conductor must have seen lots of the note in this degenerated state.
People were quick to shore up hope in the new polymer note, saying that it will still be able to stand the test of the abuse we give to it, inasmuch as it is cannot be torn-out like the other notes. It was paradoxical when the note began to come in different designs with different kind of cello-tapes, which was used to hold its torn sides of the notes together. People started wondering about the kind of technique that would have been involved to give it this new face. Some were quick to give a rejoinder that as brazen our bad manner could be exhibited with utter cruelty; the notes could have been subjected to different kind of destruction test to prove its validity. It was learnt that maiming the polymer note was an evil medium some clique have found to channel their grievances to the government for the obvious misappropriation which was involved in the polymer project. Their grouse was not unconnected with the statement issued by one government official, which nearly blighted the joy the polymer was received with. It read: ‘the money used in printing this note cost more than the monetary value of the note’. What a waste and another way monetary corruption has waltzed, the people thought.
Before other notes (#5, #10 and #50) joined the charade of polymer, it was very easy, as if one possess a magical wand, to feel the specific amount of money one is bringing out of one’s pocket without having to bring out the whole amount in your pocket, purse or wallet. This is done by feeling the plasticity of the #20 polymer note and making a quick count of the number that would commensurate with whatever you are parting away with in every transactions. The polymer gave an helping hand to professional lying. One could pretend to have brought the amount he all has while leaving others in his pocket in a swift groping. People who resent giving offerings to God in any religious gathering during offertory sessions, found solace in the polymer. For them, since the introduction of the new #20 naira polymer note, they could without stress of shoveling and rummaging through notes in their pockets, offer the bit they would like to give provided they could feel the plastic texture of the polymer.
It was praise, jubilation and celebration without end when #5, #10, and #50 followed suit in the modification of paper notes to polymer. It was be unbelievable to have heard that this so called change has turned into a pain in the necks of the citizenry. During a church service that I much remember, sadness was lighted on some peoples’ faces. It was later known that those that had formed it an habit of basking on the opportunity of the plasticity of the #20 naira polymer almost gave all what they have in their purses when notes of #50 naira were given as #20 without knowing. Retail traders have also got scarring experiences by this. Some, in a business rush-hour, had give #20 as #5 for a change to their customers, thinking they had given the right amount. They later discovered the magnitude of their woes when the money made during business time could not make for what was sold – what a pity!

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