Last week, we reported on how former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, aka OBJ, added a big feather to his cap. He led a team of mediators that brought the warring parties in the Tigray War in Ethiopia to a peace accord.
The signing of the agreement signaled the cessation of a two-year war that had claimed more than half a million lives. Success has many friends and sure enough, congratulatory messages started pouring in.
Former number two to OBJ and current flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Atiku Abubakar joined the train.
In a series of tweets, Atiku heaped praises on OBJ and made a host of flattering comments, including promising to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize.
I mean yeah, sure. Anyone can get a Peace Prize these days, including the prime minister of Ethiopia who in a cruel twist of fate, went to war in Tigray. But that’s a story for another time. The real gist of the matter came in Atiku’s next tweet.
Why does Atiku want OBJ’s face on the redesigned naira notes?
Not to be outdone in his lavish praise, Atiku went ahead to say that beyond the Peace Prize, he wants OBJ’s face on the redesigned naira notes. And that set a lot of bells ringing.
For starters, Atiku and OBJ have had a topsy-turvy relationship. Just in June 2022, Obasanjo said that he regretted picking Atiku as his vice, calling it a “mistake”. In his 2014 book “My Watch”, OBJ called Atiku “a blatant and shameless liar”.
Although OBJ endorsed Atiku’s run for the presidency in 2019, it does not appear now that he is throwing his support behind him for 2023.
Given this background, there’s an impression that Atiku is desperate to win the support of his former boss by all means necessary.
What have reactions to this suggestion been like?
The All Progressives Congress (APC), says that Atiku is looking to humiliate OBJ. Femi Fani-Kayode, an APC spokesperson, said that Atiku’s offer was a Greek gift. His words:
“This is the same man that is now calling OBJ a statesman and is saying he deserves a Nobel Prize and that his face should be on the naira.
“Atiku is lying. He does not mean a word of it. He’s offering a Greek gift. He is playing politics.
“Deep down he hates OBJ with a passion and he has always done because the President outfoxed and outpunched him at every turn when he attempted his treacherous move to usurp him and take his place as President.”
Others have lashed out at Atiku over his suggestion, noting that Obasanjo led Nigeria towards its current path of decline.
What else should you know?
Beyond the criticism, there are questions about how such a move would be implemented in practice. Typically, currency notes carry portraits of individuals who are no longer living.
You can observe this in all the naira denominations made in honour of specific individuals. The very few exceptions to this rule globally are in places where monarchs are sovereign rulers, like in the United Kingdom.
So suggesting that OBJ should be on the naira note can only mean one thing. And it’s not nice.
Another difficulty that presents itself is that putting OBJ on a note would almost likely mean taking someone out. I don’t suppose any of the families of the current guys on the ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1000 notes will be cheering that move.
But hey, what could go wrong?