OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN ON THE SECURITY IMPLICATION OF ARABIC INSCRIPTIONS ON NAIRA NOTES.
Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan
President and Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock, Abuja.
Immediate necessity and ultimate concern for our national unity alerted me to write this letter. The prime goal of this is the restoration of equity, fairness and justice in our dear nation Nigeria – a nation of diverse nationalities, to preclude her from future chaos that may emanate from the nearest future. It will also serve as a quest for a sustainable way of resolving our unending problems of co-existence.
In my letter SH7/02 dated 16th of May, 2005 to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, I pointed out why compulsory national steps should be taken as regard the stark reality that our currencies are carrying Arabic inscriptions which is neither our national nor official language. National consciousness was drawn to this and these inscriptions were removed from 5, 10, 20 and 50 Naira notes and replaced by the three national languages – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, alongside the English language which is the official language respectively but 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 Naira notes are still carrying this inscriptions till date.
Mr. President sir, as a trained linguist and translator, I stand to say this imposition of an alien language on one of Nigerian symbols of sovereignty is putting entire Nigerians into “language slavery” which undoubtedly is general insecurity socio-economically, socio-culturally and socio-politically and denial of cultural rights via language as citizens of the nation. I do not want to question here how and why the Arabic letters came to be inscribed on one of our symbols of sovereignty, but to compellingly put Nigeria on the path of sustainable peace and prosperity which all our diverse people desperately yearn for.
We have every right as a citizen of the country, to be able to read, translate, decode, infer and know all letters, subjects, objects, icons, images, colours, emblems, symbols, animations, pictorials, insignias, seals etc on all symbols of our sovereignty. In this case of existing imbalance, something must be done, before the more than 150 million Nigerians can feel safe, and secured in this Federation to be able to answer whole-heartedly to the name Nigerians.
Your Excellency, from the living unit of my experience in the relevance of languages and national integration, cohesion, and national security, I hereby declare that retention of these inscriptions will viewed by some sections of the country as being favouritism toward Hausa/Fulani untrained native speakers of the northern part of the country and Arab world. It will be as if giving northerners unfair advantage over other untrained native speakers from other component parts of the Federation. It will performatively be inequality of access to our symbols of sovereignty and dislodgement of constitutional framework of ‘the whole Nigeria being equal to the sum of all her component parts and greater than any of the so-called component parts’.
Your Excellency should as a matter of national security concern, urgently use your good offices to effect the replacement of these Arabic inscriptions by our three national languages – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), director of currency operations, National Assembly, national planning commission and national orientation agency should be notified respectively of this lopsidedness. These agencies need be drawn into this pursuit and enthronement of national unity, through equity, fairness, security, justice, love and freedom in our society and orientation to preclude Nigeria from this catalyst for national crisis.
Every nation I believe re-invents itself as and when due. So, not to be misled from the imperative of making the kind of Nigeria we need, Nigeria should make her re-invention that of the pillars of peaceful co-existence- justice, equity, fairness and a level playing field for all, because the neglect of this timely repair will in the nearest future make rebuilding inevitable. Your Excellency should try as much as possible to build within the minds of Nigerians the spirit of agreeable companion in them. It is in this light that I am sending this letter.
Lastly, I will advise that thinking about Akinloye Segun Oyeniyi should be avoided; rather about the cause, I try to effect to make Nigeria a better place for all. Posterity will surely remember us.
Comrade Akinloye Segun Oyeniyi
Akinloye Segun Oyeniyi writes from Abuja.
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