11In a bid to save the nation’s currency from the ‘assaults’ it receives on a daily basis, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently announced its plans to embark on another phase of  “massive campaign” against the abuse of our legal tender.

Of recent, the apex bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, Mr Ugochukwu Okoroafor, had told the media that the campaign had become imperative since most Nigerians still mess up the naira.

According to him, there is the need to ensure that the government did not continue to spend huge sum of money in the reprinting of torn notes, which he attributed to such abuse, noting that the colossal amount of money spent yearly to reprint torn notes necessitated the idea behind the planned introduction of the proposed N5,000 note, which was not allowed to see the light of the day.

Interestingly, while the apex bank had gone 360 degrees in communicating this very important message about the need to respect the naira and save it from abuse by deploying the campaigns on billboards, radio, television and the press, not a few Nigerians have argued that the regulatory bank have neglected a viable channel, the Nollywood platform, that would have effectively assisted it in getting the message across to the huge viewership it commands.

No doubt, the viewership base of the nation’s home video has continued to grow by the day, with the artistes gradually attaining the status of cult hero. They are seen by many of their fans as being infallible, while some would not mind patterning their lifestyles after those of some of these artistes.

But, unfortunately, it is an open secret that if there is any industry that has not actually identified with this war against the abuse of the naira, it is the nation’s entertainment industry. For instance, it is a common spectacle to see the nation’s currency notes being abused in some of these home videos, and with no form of sanctions for such abusers.

For instance, while some Nigerians have argued that there is nothing actually wrong in dedicating some of these scenes in the home video to the abuse of the naira, where the nation’s currencies are being ‘sprayed’ at social gatherings and trampled upon with impunity since it is a reflection of the society’s culture, they have, however, argued that one basic thing that is missing is the fact that there is nothing in the scene to show that the practice is being frowned on.

Yemi James, a 1989 graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, argued that the world of theatre and home videos is that of a make-belief.

“Therefore, there is nothing out of place if there are some scenes in any of these home videos, where the nation’s currencies are sprayed at parties and even trampled upon. It is not manufactured. It is what obtains in real life on a daily basis.

“Unfortunately, what is missing in these video scenes is that there is nothing to show that there is some form of sanction for whoever engages in these unwholesome practices.

“Nothing in our home videos tells the viewers, especially those outside the culture, that spraying and other abuse of the nation’s currencies are illegal. Perhaps, if perpetrators of such crime are apprehended in the film, it would have drummed home the message that such acts are frowned on.

“What makes this very important is that many people all over the world take in what they see in some of these movies hook, line and sinker, and the Nigerian audience is not different either,” he stated.

But another Nigerian, Idowu Famurewa, who is also an unrepentant fan of Nollywood, believes that while the idea of using the Nollywood platform to spread the apex bank’s message is desirable, he, however, argues that the apex bank has not done enough to curry the entertainment industry’s favour to help it spread the message.

“Don’t forget these people are in this business to entertain and make money. Though dedicating a scene or two in some of these home videos to the campaign is desirable, but one should also know that it is not without its financial implications too. Agreed that it can be done on the grounds of patriotism, but are these people being seen as an ally in the current campaign?

“The answer to this question is not really in the affirmative. Unfortunately, another thing is that if the apex bank can throw its weight behind sports through its different initiatives, why not entertainment. So, the general feeling within stakeholders in the industry would be that the apex bank would not be allowed to reap where it did not sow,” he added.

But one thing is certain, to effectively fight the war against abuse of the nation’s currency, there is the need to involve stakeholders and every sector of the economy. Unfortunately, the present involvement of Nollywood, an industry that has continued to win converts on a daily basis,  is not such that would give the war a mileage, since there is nothing, as far as the industry is concerned, to show  that such epic battle is being fought.


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