The Origin Of The Ban On Spraying Naira

How Did The Ban On Naira Spray Start?


I attended a party at the official residence of a very senior government official in 1985 or ’86. When it was time for the dance, the MC announced that there would be no spraying because spraying was not allowed. I thought that I understood why. My thought was that they did not want any ostentatious displays of wealth. That was in line with the situation in the country at the time.

From then on I heard similar announcements at parties that were held by government officials.

Dirty and mutilated notes in the 1990s and early 2000s

Fastforward to the late 1990s and early 2000s. Nigerians had been complaining about the poor quality of naira notes since the end of the 1990s. They complained that naira notes were dirty, torn and that in some cases you could barely read what’s written on them. At that time (Joseph Sanusi era) the CBN put pressure on banks to receive old naira notes and forward them to it for destruction (Nigerians were complaining that banks were rejecting old naira notes).

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Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo and the change

Then came Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo. Professor Soludo gave a speech in which he complained that the CBN was spending too much money to destroy mutilated notes and print new ones. He complained about the way that Nigerians treated bank notes. He reminded people that it was illegal to mishandle currency notes and he said that he was going to propose an amendment to the law to ensure that people who mishandle naira notes were severely punished.


The CBN then released adverts to educate Nigerians about naira notes. You might remember them. The adverts were very detailed and explained every single situation properly. I’m going to try and explain them from memory.

1) Spraying: Do you want to show appreciation to a musician? Don’t paste naira notes on his forehead (where they will react with his sweat), don’t allow it to drop to the floor and react with dirt, don’t allow people to step and dance on it.

Instead, put the money in an envelope and go up and give it to the musician.

2) Carrying money: Don’t put naira notes in your bra where they will react with your sweat. Don’t squeeze naira notes and stuff them in your pockets. Get a wallet and put them neatly in the wallet.

3) Trading: Are you a trader/hawker? Don’t squeeze naira notes, don’t stuff them in your wrapper/pockets. Get a waist pouch and place them neatly in the pouch. Ensure that your hands are clean before you handle the naira. Don’t get blood or other liquids on the naira.

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4) Church: Don’t squeeze naira notes into the collection box/basket. Put them in an envelope and place them neatly into the box/basket.

5) Selling change: Don’t sell naira notes. It is an offence. (Some people sell lower denomination notes [aka change] at parties, so that people will have money to spray).

6) Writing: Do you want to make calculations and write down important things? Don’t write on the naira, get a notepad.

All these scenarios were dramatised in the adverts (I’m sure that I have forgotten some of them).

The CBN said that the naira was a national symbol and people must treat it with respect.

Polymer notes:

You might remember that this was also one of the reasons that Professor Soludo introduced polymer notes. It was said that the polymer (plastic) notes would not get torn and would not absorb liquids as easily as the paper notes. It was also more difficult to write on the plastic notes.


The CBN act was amended to include jail terms for people who mishandle naira notes.

However, on one hand, some people expressed scepticism. Would the Central Bank go to all parties at weekends to arrest people that were spraying and selling change? They said that it was impossible to enforce.

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