17th April, 2018
JONATHAN’S N100 NOTE: NIGERIA’S WORST CURRENCY
The administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan officially issued the N100 commemorative centenary banknote on 19th December, 2014. A major feature of that banknote was the removal of Arabic Ajami.
Nigerians consider Jonathan’s N100 note inferior to others printed earlier. It is of very low quality. It tears easily. It lacks second hand value. It grows soft and fragile with time, thereby making it difficult to handle or fold in people’s pockets or wallets. It has therefore failed as a veritable means of exchange. Placed side by side with the old N100 note which still has the Arabic Ajami inscription and which is still in circulation, Jonathan’s N100 shrinks into oblivion.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is constrained to affirm that Jonathan’s N100 note is a fiscal embarrassment, a huge disappointment and a colossal waste of the nation’s scarce resources. Three and a half years on, Jonathan’s N100 note has qualified for the worst banknote ever printed in Nigeria. It is a national disgrace. This banknote should be withdrawn from circulation.
It is not too difficult to guess what went wrong. Jonathan was blinded by his anti-Arabic sentiment that he ignored quality control measures. His only concern was to implement the hate agenda of a few anti-Muslim elements who are bent on eliminating all vestiges of Islam from the Nigerian environment.
It was not the first time this would happen. Arabic inscriptions which have always been on Nigerian currency since independence were unceremoniously removed in 2005 from N5, N10, N20 and N50 denominations during the reign of Olusegun Obasanjo. It must be noted that there has been surreptitious pressure from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the removal of Arabic from the naira.
But Nigerians need to know that this move was calculated to hurt the Muslim population and may end up as a disservice to the nation. The average Northerner cannot read any other script except in Arabic Ajami and anyone who wants to communicate with him effectively must use the Ajami, not even writings in Hausa language can help in this matter. Millions of Northerners have therefore been marginalized by removing the Arabic Ajami from Jonathan’s poor quality N100 note and Obasanjo’s N5, N10, N20 and N50 denominations.
The removal of Arabic Ajami is being interpreted as an attempt to discourage the learning and use of Arabic language which is the language of the Glorious Qur’an. It is a sensitive religious matter. Nobody can do this in Nigeria and expect the Muslims to organize a carnival for him. But as usual, our leaders manifest the noun ‘deaf’ and the verb ‘to ignore’.
MURIC complained in 2005 when Obasanjo removed Arabic Ajami from new naira notes. The fact that Jonathan repeated the same thing has raised concern among Muslims. Why does Arabic always become the victim any time a Christian becomes president? It means that there is a conspiracy to gradually and tactically eliminate Arabic Ajami. It is only logical to expect the removal of Arabic from other notes when another Christian becomes president.
‘When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightening and rain?’ When will these conspirators descend on the remaining notes which still has Arabic Ajami on them: N100, N200, N500 and N1,000? Should we expect the removal of Arabic Ajami from these remaining denominations when another Christian becomes president? Is it ‘when the hullybully is done and gone?’ Or is it ‘when the battle is lost and won?’ It looks very much like an agendum continuum.
Currencies worldwide are designed to suit each nation’s culture and history. Incidentally, Nigeria is a multireligious entity. In this case, therefore, our cultural and religious homogeneity should be the criteria, particularly when designing our banknotes, our stamps, etc.
But these two Christian presidents (Obasanjo and Jonathan) failed in this onerous task. They retained the English letters which symbolize Christianity and removed the Arabic Ajami which stands for Islam. It is simply bad leadership. They allowed sectional interests to override their avowed neutrality. What else is ethnic cleansing? We are all tax payers and to that extent we all deserve representation.
For the avoidance of doubt, we as Muslims are ready and willing to peacefully coexist with our Christian neighbours, but on equal terms. It must be with the proviso: ‘live and let live’. No more, no less. We believe that the religion of the president is of little consequence so long as he is fair to all. We will always address issues, not primordial sentiments and, by the way, our Arabic is very dear to us. It is tangential, not peripheral.
In conclusion, MURIC demands the withdrawal of Jonathan’s N100 note from circulation and the reinstatement of Arabic Ajami on N5, N10, N20 and N50 denominations. We affirm that Jonathan’s N100 note was a scam. We therefore call for a probe. We warn against any attempt by any future Nigerian leader to remove Arabic Ajami from the few remaining denominations. We will not hesitate to deploy every constitutional means at our disposal to stop such an attempt now or in future.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)