It all started four months ago as a rumour. When the rumour was making the rounds, the Central Bank of Nigeria blatantly denied it as mere speculation, saying it has no intention of introducing the N5000 note.
But on August 23, the governor of CBN Sanusi Lamido Sanusi announced what he called a comprehensive restructuring of the currency, and the introduction of N5000 was proposed.
Under the "Project Cure", the central bank also announced the introduction of 50k, N5, N1, N2, N5 and N10 coins into circulation early next year.
Three prominent Nigerian women will dot the face of the N5000 note. They are Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, while the National Assembly structure will be at the back. Since the announcement, there have been criticisms of the proposal and the central bank has been using every medium to defend it.
Families of Margaret Ekpo and Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti have asked the Central Bank not to use their mothers.
The Nigerian Labour Congress, economists and notable public sector analysts have faulted the policy and asked the CBN to have a rethink.
Ordinary Nigerians, including traders and small business operators who are the end users are saying the introduction of the currencies series is not their immediate priorities, but the central bank seems to be determined in implementing the policy.
Those against the policy said it contradicts the cashless policy of the central bank which sought to discourage two much circulation of physical cash. The argument was that with N5000 note, people can easily pocket millions and move around with them.
The National Assembly has asked the management of the central bank to come forward and brief it.
While the central bank has indicated interest in briefing the lawmakers when they reconvene later this month, the bank has also said that the authority to manage and introduce currency in the country is under its purview.
The CBN spokesperson Ugochukwu Okoroafor said on Thursday at a press briefing in Abuja that the law is very clear on who does what.
Okoroafor said the mandate to restructure the currency by the central bank was clearly stated by the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act and the CBN Act of 2007.
Relying on Sections 17, 18 and 19 of the CBN Act of 2007, he said the CBN has full autonomy on the issue of currency production with recommendation from the board and approval by the President.
The Sections said: "The bank shall have the sole right of issuing currency notes and coins throughout Nigeria and neither the federal government or any state government, local government, other person or authority shall issue currency notes, bank notes or coins or any documents or tokens payable to bearer on demand being document or token which are likely to pass as legal tender.
"The bank shall arrange for the printing of currency notes and the minting of coins; issue, re-issue and exchange currency notes and coins at the bank's offices and at such agencies as it may, from time to time, establish or appoint; arrange for the safe custody of un-issued stocks of currency notes and for the preparation, safe custody and destruction of plates and paper for the printing of currency notes and disc for the minting of coins; and arrange for the destruction of currency notes and coins withdrawn from circulation under the provisions of section 20 (3) of this Act or otherwise found by the bank to be unfit for use.
"The currency notes and coins issued by the bank shall be in such denominations of the naira or fractions thereof as shall be approved by the President on the recommendation of the board; and of such forms and designs and bear such devices as shall be approved by the President on the recommendation of the board."
Okoroafor said: "But it is important to note that the law is very clear on what our responsibilities are; it is very clear on the process as far as this matter is concerned and we are completely within our mandate and we have made that point clear and there is no problem because the law is very clear on who does what."
Sanusi said during a press briefing when the policy was announced on August 23, that President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the policy.
It has been reported that about N40 billion is budgeted for the printing and minting of the notes and coins and that three foreign firms have already been shortlisted to print N5000 note. The firms are Delarue of Britain, D&G of Germany and Orbether of France.
The spokesperson of the central bank has denied the N40 billion budget for the printing and minting of the notes and coins but did not say how much was budgeted for the project. He merely said the amount for maintaining currency is contained in the central bank annual report.
Those against the policy are saying that if introduced, it could trigger hike in inflation and could also encourage corruption.
The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions has faulted the policy and asked the central bank to roll back.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Bassey Otu said before the central bank could introduce new currency there is a need for parliamentary approval.
He said: "I believe that a project of this nature requires parliamentary approval because there are numerous fiscal implications on the entire economy.
"So, we are sending a letter to them to stop all further actions on this until the Senate of the Federal Republic is properly briefed."
Also, the House of Representatives has called on the governor of central bank to brief it.
Chairman, House Committee on Banking and Currency, Mr. Chukwudi Onyereri said that the House would like to know if the proposed introduction of N5000 notes did not conflict with the cashless policy of the bank.
The NLC has said that the proposed N40 billion should be channeled into boosting manufacturing and production sectors of the economy.
As the criticism rages, central bank is maintaining that other countries review their currencies every five to eight years. It also argued and makes references to other countries that have higher currency denomination.
Specifically, Sanusi said that Singapore, Germany and Japan have the highest currency denominations of 10,000 SGD, 500 German note and Yen10,000, with relatively high dollar equivalent and lower inflation rates.
Apart from these countries, even the United States of America also has a $10000 bill.
However, these higher denominations are not in circulation because demands for them hardly arise.
What is very common in these countries is coins because people can easily use them to purchase of good or the other. But in Nigeria, demands for coins have been religiously abandoned because there is hardly anything you can use them to buy.
Again, people argued that while the countries that the central bank is referring to produce things that can easily be bought with coins, Nigeria imports virtually everything and therefore cannot compete favourably.
While Nigerians are awaiting the outcome of the National Assembly's meeting with the central bank, many are asking what is going to happen now that families of two of the women proposed to be in the cover of the N5000 have kicked against it.