Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Whispering Drums With Maigani

Musa Ibrahim

Old Naira Still Wanted?

One can only hope that the beautiful young ladies currently in Europe and America are making false claims. There are quite a number of such beautiful and young Nigerian ladies now offering to buy old naira at very huge discounts.

Those who have been caught with the old naira outside Nigeria are, of course, very happy to off-load them at any rate. For it is better to get five pence for the old naira than to have to throw them in the dustbin or keep them to show your grandchildren that once upon a time, you were rich until the currency exchange turned you into a poor man!

But what on earth can these young ladies do with the worthless piece of paper? Well, the young ladies are said to be claiming that they have such solid connections that they can easily take these old naira back into Nigeria and have them changed into new ones, weeks after the exchange exercise had ended!

If true, it must mean that far from the exchange having turned everybody into a poor person, some people are going to become VERY rich indeed. Some people are of the opinion that the new rulers are so morally upright that they are not likely to follow the path of the politicians and have as many girl friends, thus the young ladies are prob- ably making false claims.

But then since they are paying good money for what to all intents and pur poses, is bad money, they surely must have something under their headgears!

Passport Exchange In The Offing?

AFTER the "huge success' of the currency exchange when everybody seems to be agreed that the suffering encountered and being endured by those inside the country is worth the huge losses assumed to have been made by the politicians inside kirikiri and their colleagues outside the country, rumours are now rife that the Federal Military Government is planning another exchange along similar lines.

The next object to be changed, according to these rumours, is the Nigerian passport. The expected scenario being that one of these fine days, Chief of Staff Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon will announce that all Nigerian passports currently in circulation have "ceased to be legal tender" and new ones will be introduced within a two week period, while the borders will be closed or will remain opened according to the mood of the country.

Again, the official reason that will be given for the exercise will be to prevent "the fugitives" from using the Nigerian passport to travel around the world enjoying their ill-gotten wealth and making false propaganda about the Federal Military Government. By this one action, "the fugitives" will be forced to come back home to face trial for the old passports will be good for return journeys to Nigeria. The country's missions abroad will be able to issue the new passports to bona fide Nigerians who are not wanted at home!

It is expected that there will be general public approval for the move and the press will be expected to endorse it, pointing out that it is a brave move that will end once and for all, the propaganda of "the fugitives" and if they have nothing to hide they would be expected to come home to face their accusers.

The travelling public, after all, belong to the small percentage of Nigerians who have always used up the nation's foreign exchange resources and, anyway, the inconvenience caused them will be worth the big advantage of neutralizing the effectiveness of the fugitives or getting them back as the FMG had promised.

It will be recalled that soon after the December 31, 1983 coup, an embargo was placed on the issuance of all new passports or the renewal of old ones by the FMG. That embargo is still in force.

The explanation given for that direction was that it was aimed at preventing people who had questions to answer, as a consequence of their actions during the past four years, from leaving the country.

Some observers see in the proposed move, if it indeed comes on, a more fundamental action that will affect those inside the country far more than the fugitives, for the problem of exchanging new passports for old is bound to be far more horrendous than anything experienced during the currency exchange and will give the military authorities more powers over the freedom of movement of the individual than any other decree has so far done.

One can only hope this remains a rumour

talking drums 1984-06-04 what makes people leave Ghana - nigeria trials changing the rules in midstream