The ingenuity of Nigerians has never been in doubt.
So, with the biting scarcity of cash and the reiteration by the Central Bank of Nigeria to prosecute those who abuse the Naira, event planners in Lagos have devised a new way of living above the broken norms.
One of those is 247SL Events, a Lagos-based event management outfit championing an innovative method of obeying the law while maintaining the Nigerian age-long culture of spraying naira notes at a typical Owambe.
Owambe is a Yoruba word that means “food is there or party is there”.
But in Nigerian parlance, owambe has come to mean a lavish party replete with outlandish outfits, an unending supply of food and drinks and of course, a display of wealth in the form of spraying wads of Naira.
Spray Naira notes, N200 token
On the 3rd of February, 31-year-old actress Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, popularly known as Simisola Gold, was arrested by the ICPC and EFCC for allegedly spraying and stepping on the new Naira notes.
She was arrested after the video of her spraying and stepping on the newly redesigned Naira notes at a party surfaced online.
She was later granted bail to the tune of N5m.
With its new money vouchers, guests at weddings, burial ceremonies or any such socio-cultural events can buy the amount they intend to ‘spray’ the celebrants and transfer the cash equivalent to the agent’s account.
The agent, in this case, is the event planner, and the common denomination is N1000 and N500 notes. The images of the celebrant or event host are printed on the notes.
A post on 247SL Event’s Instagram page describes the idea as the new way to spray at parties.
READ ALSO: Eight people you’ll meet at ‘Owambe’
“We had this at the burial reception for Kabiesi Alara’s father’s burial. It’s an excellent lent way to stop the abuse of throwing naira at parties
“Pls note, this is not money in any way; it’s termed as event currency or party props,” the post reads.
PREMIUM TIMES reached out to several event planners, including 247SL Event, who shared their thoughts on the new method.
Nenna Ezenta, the CEO of Box and Roses Surprises, said the new naira policy had given event planners another reason to be creative.
“We are Nigerians, and you can’t take the life of the party away from us. You have to feel the vibe, so the idea of a dummy currency for spraying is very creative,” she said.
Another event planner, Ayobami Enabulele, said the new cash policy of the CBN has affected businesses in several ways.
Spray Naira notes, N1000 token
Speaking with this newspaper, she said it affected her operations because getting from one location to another proved difficult.
“We had to resort to ride-hailing services, which meant more costs. Unfortunately, our patrons had to bear the cost. That was one of the direct effects the scarcity of the naira had on our business,” she said.
She, however, said the introduction of money tokens for spraying was innovative even though more still needs to be done to sensitise partygoers on how it works.
She said: “It is a brilliant innovation. The only downside is opening people’s minds to it. Awareness has to be done on detecting counterfeit and real money, so people don start faking the naira notes.”
Giving a legal perspective to the new idea, Ayuba Giwa, a retired associate professor of Law from Delta State University, said the position of the law is apparent.
Mr Giwa told this newspaper that only the CBN could issue a legal tender stipulated by the amended Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007.
“Generally, only the CBN has the authority to issue a legal tender, so it would depend on what those printing it are calling it. Counterfeiting is an offence, but any organisation can print tickets or tokens, which can come in the form of plastic or paper,” he said.
The author of several books on banking laws also gave an example of roulette tables where tokens are used instead of real money.
“In those days, they used cash instead, but it was straightforward for men of the criminal underworld to come in and rob them, so they resorted to using tokens. However, they do not purport them to be legal tenders,” he added.
He further noted that the new idea is a welcome development as abusing the naira by spraying or stepping on it is very unsavoury.
On Thursday, the 2nd of February, the CBN vowed to prosecute sellers and those who flagrantly abuse the notes at social functions across the country.
A statement from the apex bank said the Naira is our legal tender and a symbol of national pride, urging Nigerians to respect and handle it with care.
The bank said it would partner with security agencies to ensure that erring members of the public who abuse the new notes are arrested and duly punished.
Section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 stipulates that “spraying of, dancing or stepping on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under the law by fines or imprisonment or both.”
Section 21(4) states that “It shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank.”
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