As debate rages over the planned introduction of 5,000 naira notes by the Central Bank,former Abia state governor Dr.Orji Uzor Kalu has advised the apex bank to consider what the trio of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti,Margaret Ekpo and Gambo Sawaba stood for.
Kalu reminisced that the women whose images will adorn the new note fought for the masses and could be forced to squirm in their graves if the cries of the people became too much to bear.
He said,”I am not an economist,i respect the Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.I just hope the Economic team did their homework so well.I have heard also the voices of so many Nigerians.I must caution that whatever will not benefit the masses should not be considered.In this case,i know that those three women shook Nigeria in their days.’Beere’ as Prof. Wole Soyinka calls his aunt Mrs.Ransome-Kuti,[Afro musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s mom] in his book ‘Ake’ was so powerful that she traumatised an Alake of Egbaland.Margaret Ekpo led the Aba Women’s Riot of 1929,while Sawaba was a fiery fighter.”
The ex-governor explained that his experience as an international businessman showed that most African countries who chose to print higher denominations ended up producing millions of multi-millionaires who could not put three square meals on the tables of their families.
“I had a journalist friend who travelled to Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire in 1991 to cover soccer.He came back with millions of their currency.We taunted him that he became a Millionaire overnight,yet his car was begging for attention.Another friend was in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.When told that his hotel bill ran into millions of dollars,he almost died of heart failure.It took quite some time to convince him that one million Zim dollars could barely match the US dollar”,Kalu added.
He also cautioned against placing Nigeria on the same table as the Western world whenever reforms were going to be forced on the common man.
“Somebody talks about Japan having 10,000 Yen notes.The only thing we have in common with the Japanese is huge population.That is a country with no natural resources,yet they have been able to conquer poverty.I think we should focus on making life meaningful to the masses before we target some of these verbose reforms”,Kalu said.