A Northern elite and former Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust Newspaper, Mannir Dan Ali, has accused those opposing the use of Arabic inscription on Naira notes as having the same mindset as the deadly Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
He made this known in a letter to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in a contribution on the raging controversy.
Equally important, Dan Ali, who identified the Arabic script as Ajami, further claims that it is one of the first means of expression in Africa.
‘‘Many seem unaware that the Arabic script used to write in several African languages is known as ‘Ajami’. It was the first means of literacy on the continent; centuries before Western colonisers and Christian missionaries arrived with their Roman script and its A-Z alphabet.
‘‘Among others, Swahili in East Africa, Tamashek, the language of the Tuaregs in North and West Africa, and Nigerian languages like Kanuri, Nupe, Yoruba, Fulfulde and Hausa all use Ajami. Scholars and administrators in the Sokoto Caliphate; which dominated much of present-day northern Nigeria in the 19th Century, used Ajami to write many documents and books.’’
Consequently, he alleged that opposition to the Arabic inscription stems from a place of ignorance; even as he equated them to the Boko Haram insurgents who are opposed to Western ideals.
‘‘It is obvious that those opposed to the use of Arabic script on Nigeria’s currency or emblems see it as an expression of Islamic identity owing to the origin of Arabic as the language of Islam and the initial use of Ajami as a means of spreading Islam on the African continent.
‘‘They fail to see that they are falling into the mindset of Boko Haram, as the Islamist militants who have been waging an 11-year insurgency in northern Nigeria are equally opposed to anything connected with Western education and ideas.’’
Continuing, Dan Ali argued that the 50 naira note has Roman script; with the value written in English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
‘‘The different scripts are intended to ensure all Nigerians can read the value of the notes. The Ajami writing on each naira note is for the benefit of the tens of millions of Hausa speakers; who can only read and write in that script, which is taught in schools across the north.
‘‘Such people could go to court to argue that their own rights were being infringed; should the Ajami inscription be removed,’’ he stated.
Meanwhile, 1st News reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had recently opposed a suit filed by a lawyer; Chief Malcom Omirhobo, seeking to remove the Arabic inscriptions on naira notes. The CBN had told the Federal High Court that it would cost the country a “colossal sum of money” to discard the existing notes and print new ones without the Arabic script. Further, the CBN said Ajami is not a symbol or mark of Islam; but an inscription to aid non-English speakers who are literate in and use Ajami for trade.
The apex bank made the submission in a counter-affidavit to the suit filed before Justice Mohammed Liman.
Omirhobo had argued that the Arabic inscriptions on the naira notes portray Nigeria as an Islamic state; contrary to the country’s constitutional status of a multi-religious state. In addition, he held that this violates sections 10 and 55 of the Constitution, which makes Nigeria a multi-religious state.