Thanks, but no thanks: Ekpo, Kuti families oppose CBN planned currency review

by Isi Esene

The planned introduction of the new N5,000 note by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continued to receive knocks from various quarters with the latest one coming from the families of the personalities whose portraits are expected to feature on the note.

At the announcement of the proposed currency review, it was gathered that the images of late women activists, Funmilayo Kuti, Margaret Ekpo, and Gambo Sawaba will feature on the N5,000 which is planned to be in circulation by 2013.

In a shocking reaction to the introduction of the high denomination note, one of the grandsons of late Margaret Ekpo, Edward, said, “Looking at the calibre of women who will grace the note, I think these are women who paid their dues. Putting someone’s face on a currency note is practically the biggest honour you can give to anybody. But how do you honour someone for something that only very few people are in support of?

“It is a very big thing. I am of the opinion that if there is something else that can be used to immortalize the three of them, fine. I am not in support of the N5,000 note. There should be other things, other structures that can be used to immortalize them. That is how I feel about it.”

Speaking on a similar note, Robert Ekpo, another grandson of the matriarch reportedly said, “In my own opinion, I think it is unnecessary. I am not in support of it. It may lead to inflation. It is a thing of joy having your grandmom’s photograph on your country’s currency, but at the same time, I am not in support of the new denomination. What I am saying is that we should look for a way of adding value to our currency unit instead of bringing out a bigger denomination.”

Yeni, daughter of Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti also contributed her thoughts to the CBN proposal saying: “The gesture is nice. I am happy that they are honouring my grandmother for her contribution to the freedom of the country. But I don’t think this is the right way to do it. Is the new note going to bring water to the people? Is it going to stop corruption? Or is it going to make our roads better and safer?” she asks rhetorically.

She urged the government to honour her grandmother by pursuing the ideals she fought for rather than engage in tokenism.

“This policy does not conform to her beliefs and the things she fought for and represented. The highest accolade they can give to my grandmother is to make Nigeria a livable country,” she said.

The CBN last week announced the planned introduction of the N5,000 single denomination note, a plan which analysts believe will further accelerate inflationary trends in the nation’s economy.

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