Open letter to the President: Security implications of Arabic inscriptions on the Naira


Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan

President and Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces

Federal Republic of Nigeria

State House

Presidential Villa

Aso Rock, Abuja.


Your Excellency,

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.


Yours faithfully,


Comrade Akinloye Segun Oyeniyi



Akinloye Segun Oyeniyi writes from Abuja.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (14)

  1. We have a long way to go in this country… Arabic is not one of nigerians official language, but we have it onon some of our notes and also the nigerian army has some on it coat and emblems… My question is this, is nigeria an arabic country? We have koran writing in english and bible written in arabic for english and arabic speaking nations… We don't need arabic on our nation currency cause we're an englishing speaking country not francophone or arabic…

  2. Some things don't need to be said out in the open mr. Issac you see when ever you talk of the Arabic inscription your talking of religion as the Arabic writing has become associated with muslims and yes in this time we find ourselves, what we should all be doing is finding the areas we are common and not areas we are different. So sir it will be unfair to say that we or me in particular I'm qouting any body wrong or even if I I'm it because of the timing maybe!

  3. This is how problems are created by so-called patriot we have in this country, I have over my years never had any Nigerian complained over the inscription and now you are trying to bring up another "wahala" in the mist of all these already cumbersome problems.

    Sir with all due respect I believe it also within our right as Nigerians to have what has been and will continue to be the symbol of our identity as northerners.

    Finally sir Oyeniyi, after this you should write to the federal government to remove the Cross symbol in all medical institution and replace it with some thing neutral, for it is a deliberate attempt to favor one side of the country and also fridays to be converted to national resting days too, for reasons I'm sure you more than know the answer to. A concerned Nigerian citizen is my name!.

  4. Nigeri kasar su akinloye. I could remember this saying by a great politian may his soull rest in peace so idont know whether its the same old akinloye or is it another akinloye? So what ever mr akin what do you want mr president to do write oduwas head look the notherners have never been favoured look mr nigeria our country is one nation one destiny you should have write a letter how to empower the youth at last pls be a nationalist don't express personel intrest mr obj read yor letter and dump it and also mr good luck will do the same becouse that is not nigerias problems lastly we are praying for peace and national coessistance

  5. Comrade Oyeniyi, I am suprised that a linguist and translator that you claimed to be, you are ignorant of the fact that the inscriptions you referred to is not alien language. It is Hausa language. Hausa has been a written language in this format for a long time. Infact we even had newspapers in Hausa written in this format. Hausa language can be written in this format or English alphabets. If removing it will make your over 150 million Nigerians safe (NOT SAVE as you wrote),and secure, let it go. This will definately reduce some paronia even if at the expence of making the Hausa's feel hated because everything theirs in no longer tolerable to some Nigerians.

  6. My friend it will be more important and useful to the Nigerian nation and her people to come up with more positive suggestion to Mr. President on the way to takle our pressing national insecurity and other underdevelopment e.g Energy,Health,Education,Roads,Agriculture etc.Pls allow the President to address the problems of the Nation rather than sentimental issues.

  7. I tink what mr segun wrote 2 d president is nt an issue at hand nw. Bt u guys are quoting him wrongly cos he neva said anytin abt christianity or islam. This has 2 do wit tribe and nt religion. Pls 4 God sack let us learn 2 read well and make some form of good interpretation 2 our reading. Moreover we are colonise by britain and nt an arabic nation. Ǻ♍ nt supporting Mr segun cos dat is nt the problem facing nigeria nw. Tanks and God bless

  8. Dear writer. To be fair in your analysis, I think you need to write another open letter to the Presidency to also let "friday"(moslems' big day) be a "non-working" free day just like sunday(christains' big day) is. You'll agree with me that this will also bring a religious/tribal balance to your beloved nation……..hahahahahaha!

  9. Well Mr Segun I really don't want to believe with you. All these things your talking about now is not our major problem now. I don't want to believe that the inscriptions on our currency had once brought a problem or is d problem we are facing now. 10-15yrs ago all this differences were not in the hearts & minds of Nigerians, y this issue now, didn't it occur to you were the problem is? Gentleman I personally feel that once there is justice for all, all this problems won't come up. Is Nigeria the only country in the world that has muslims & christians? Y we? Others are down there living happily with each other. So pls comeup wit a better thing 2 Mr President not Arabic inscriptions on our currency.

  10. Well Said, I like this piece…. Please keep it up.

  11. Assalamu alamanittaba al huda,u better respect ur self English it ur mother tonque?if not leave Arabic sign for us as ur on is included

  12. Hello Segun,

    All your analysis is unreasonable. The thing I will tell you is that is either you enrol in arabic school or implore the govt to include hebrew henceforth.

    If you really care about this country mr honorable, talk about the decay of public utilities, accountability of the govt, enforcement of true federal structure to takle rural development problem facing the rural communities.

    Stop the shame of promoting religion bigotry and if you really want a private jet, apply to the PDP secretariat for jet loan.

    Yoruba men in fore front are articulate, objective and true nationalists and not some celebrity wanna be.

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