A ninety years old man called his sons to his dying bed and confessed to them that he had collected the sum of N9,000.00 (nine thousand naira), from a man in the year 1978, and the said amount was meant to purchase a brand new Peugeot 504 Saloon Car for that man which he never did. He implored his children to refund the amount to the man’s family so that his soul can rest in peace after his death. Shortly after speaking these words, he gave up the ghost.
After his burial, his children took N9,000.00 to the family of the creditor who had died 22-yrs ago, and told them what their father said. The children of the late creditor refused to collect the money, arguing that what they collected from their father was an amount that could buy a brand new car and not the miserable nine notes they were stretching towards them.
When I heard this sordid story, my mind immediately went to work. What filled my mind wasn’t the injustice that was done to the man whose money was maliciously collected 40 yrs ago, rather it focused on the extent at which the Nigerian Naira has devalued overtime.
Undoubtedly, the naira has lost its glory. It has experienced over 5000% percent devaluation in just forty years and beyond and it is still plunging. I could remember with nostalgia the 10 kobo coin and what I could do with it as a little boy. Today, the Nigerian kobo does exist only on paper, and the 20 naira note which used to be the highest denomination of our currency and could buy a bicycle in the early 70’s has become totally valueless.
Those of us who have watched the much celebrated movie titled: “The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin” may remember how a man had referred to Uganda money as “Shit Money”, and how the tyrant Idi Amin had asked Malyamungu to give the said man “VIP treatment and do to him what they do to shit”. It is the fear of being given VIP treatment that will prevent me from referring to the Naira as: “Shit Money”.
My mother used to have a butterfly brand sewing machine which she said she bought for N140 (one hundred and forty naira) in 1980. What can we do with such amount of money today? We must wake up to the realities of the rut that has taken place in Nigeria. We must start looking at indices of economic growth in terms of the purchasing power of the naira in comparison with historical facts. What the naira can do, and how much of it is available for Nigerians to do what needs to be done is in my opinion the economic tape with which we should measure our growth in this country.
It is sad to know that most of the key players that have contributed in one way or the other in bringing this nation to its knee are the people to whom we still shout ‘hosanna hosanna’.
As this covid-19 pandemic bites harder into the fabric of the nation, and as Nigerians are left with no option than to scavenge for the best amongst the old crew come 2023, one question we must ask our politicians is: want they intend to do to restore the glory of our fallen naira?
God bless Nigeria.