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Saturday, 10 October 2015


Entrepreneurs are set up for failure before they can flourish, thinking from their mistakes as they go. Walt Disney however, had to face more than his fair share of discouragement. Its hard to think that Mickey Mouse wasn’t considered a good sell when Walt first pitched his idea to people. But he didn’t let their criticism deter him, working on his vision tirelessly and eventually, setting up the world’s most famous animation studio and company. Like his characters, even his story is one of going on to accomplish magical things.


In1973 when the Yakubu Gowon post-civil war government introduced the Naira, it was at par with the West African currency board pound sterling that we were then using along with The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
The pound sterling we were using until 1973 when we changed to the Naira was at par with the British pound. The result was that there was no reason in the world for Nigerians to have foreign accounts as a hedge against the fluctuating local currency. The increase in national revenue following stupendous growth of the oil industry after the civil war in 1970 guaranteed the strength of the Naira.
For years after the introduction of the Naira, it remained stable to the extent that the mad drive to have foreign money by Nigerians was not there.
Back then, while recruiting Americans and Canadians for our then new universities in Jos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Benin, Sokoto, Bayero Kano, Ilorin, Yola and Bauchi, we used to just multiply the Naira salaries paid to Nigerian professors by two to get the American equivalent. In other words, one Naira converted to two American dollars. A professor in Nigerian universities then earned N16,000 per annum which was respectable US$32,000.
There was a time in the 1970s when the naira was acceptable all over West Africa and also in the bazaars of Sheperd Bush in London! Gone are those days when Nigeria, victorious from a civil war and loaded with wealth was not only helping Africa’s fighting forces of colonialism in Southern Africa, but was also dispensing monetary largesse in the West Indies. We can only remember those halcyon years with nostalgia.
The Naira began its downward spiral in the late 80s. It was during the Babangida regime that the exposed nature of Nigeria’s economy became apparent. Babangida was forced first to float the Naira which was then changing at four Naira to a dollar when he took over .
The Naira by 1991 was changing at 10 to a dollar and from this period onwards, the Naira continued to reflect the inherent weakness not just of the Nigerian economy, but of the Nigerian state itself.
The precipitous fall of the naira is always during the time of crisis at home when those who feel they may lose out in the struggle for power resort to carrying their loot abroad and therefore were ready to change their unearned income to foreign currency at any available rate.
Now, with current policies of the CBN and our president especially on dollarisation of the economy, we have a hope that soon we will have a currency that reflects our aspiration as a medium power in the world and one that is dominant in our continent.
(Extract from THE NATION)

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