Central Bank Denomination Of The Naira: Devaluing Our National Heroes

by Ahmed Dodo

The great destroyers of nations and men are comfort, plenty and security. A coward gets scared and quits. A hero gets scared, but still goes on. – Henry Miller (1891-1980)

Frankly speaking, I don’t have a problem with the proposed plans by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to honour some of our past women leaders, who stood out like Amazons and fought gallantly to redeemed the image of women in the country and contributed immeasurably to the freedom and democracy we are all enjoying today. In fact, I am so thrilled that at last the images of Mama Margaret Ekpo, Mrs Funmilayo Ramsome Kuti, and Hajiya Gambo Sawaba would soon be immortalized if the proposed plans by the CBN come to be.

Again, I have always see the eloquent speaking Central Bank Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as one of the few Nigerians around who have the guts to speak his mind, say and do what is proper at the right time. But I must confess that I was taken aback when I heard and read about part of his current plans to coined the nation’s lower denominations made up of the famous N20 naira notes, the Muru, as most of us calls it; this including the N5 naira note, and the N10 respectively.

To be honest, I felt so sad on hearing this part of the news on radio, and reading them on the day’s papers. I felt bad that the CBN management and the presidency failed to see the importance of the faces of the three patriotic men that adorned these three popular notes among the Nigerian masses. I felt angry that the face of one of Nigerian most patriotic leader General Murtala Ramat Mohammed was about to be devalued into a coin. I equally felt ashamed that the face of Sir, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, one of our most eloquent leaders would soon be faced out from our daily transactions, just the same way I felt unhappy that Alvan Ikoku’s face would soon be lost in the mind of majority of Nigerians, especially the upcoming generations.

I am still finding it hard to believe that the CBN and the president, who was reported to have approved the devaluation of these national heroes, really meant what they plan to do. I wonder if they really knew the value of the contributions of these gentlemen to the present freedom, and togetherness we are now enjoying as a federal nation. I am not really sure that the anti-corruption crusade of Murtala and his other laudable policies which he was able to stamp into our system in less than six months made any sense to them? I am not equally sure that all the eloquent speeches made by the late Sir Tafawa Balewa and his other patriotic sacrifices to free us from the shackles our past colonial masters really meant anything to them. I still wonder if the devoted struggles of the late Alvan Ikoku are still part of their subconscious as they made to carry out their plans.

Some of the burning questions on my mind as I write this piece are: Are we now so cheap and too money conscious to the extent of now relegating the value of three of our distinguished heroes into coins? Did it occurred to the proponents of this disservice proposal that most of them will not be where they are today without the sacrifices of these honourable men? In fact, there won’t have been our now famous fortified Aso Rock, neither will there have been that beautiful edifice housing the Central Bank of Nigeria both in Abuja, our current Federal Capital City , were both the presidency and the CBN management are presently holding influence , without the visionary focus and idea of General Murtala. I am equally sure that Baba Ota, Chief Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo whose emergence as Nigerian leader, both as a military ruler and politician ushered the way for the current administration to hold sway would not have been possible if not for the plans and democratic ideas of the late Murtala Ramat. Have they forgotten so soon the role played by this gallant soldier during the Nigerian civil war and his nationalist efforts to keep this county one?

I am still wondering if it has come to the notice of the Central Bank and the presidency that the existing Nigerian coins of 5kobo, N1 naira and N2 naira, are more of boju-boju in our markets and daily transactions and have since become elusive and disrespectful in the eyes of even a three years old Nigerian child? Has it occur to them that most of the existing coins have long been bought cheaply by some faceless unpatriotic money cabal and melted into various silver shapes or other purposes for their selfish gains? Are they in the know that millions of Nigerians across all the regions, irrespective of tribes, religions, and class still see and view General Murtala Mohammed as their national hero? Or do they doubt the efforts of Sir Tafawa Balewa during the struggle for our independence and his selfless service and ultimate sacrifice to the nation? What about the struggle of Alvan Ikoku and his perseverance against…….the colonialists and their discriminating laws and policies?

As earlier mentioned at the beginning of this column, I am not against the CBN’s plan to introduce another elite dominated currency into the Nigerian financial system, as long as the motherly faces of our past patriotic women leaders adores the note, but I am totally against devaluing the faces of three patriotic Nigerian visionary leaders who sacrificed their lives to get us where we are today, as one of the most populous rich black nations on earth. These men to me and I believe to other millions of Nigerians across the world are worth more than mere silver coins to us, just as their deeds and names will ever remained valuable and unquantifiable in our minds.

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