President Buhari and Godwin Emefiele of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are pretty set in their decision to apply makeup to naira banknotes for the first time in 20 years.
Even though the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has called it a bad idea, the new banknotes will enter circulation on December 15, 2022. Buhari launched the new
Snapchat filter designs on November 23, 2022, and the CBN has even started a countdown to when the old naira notes will stop being valid in 2023.
We know the redesign of the ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1,000 banknotes doesn’t involve changing the faces on them. But if it did, these famous deceased Nigerians have credible claims.
She’s most popularly remembered as the first Nigerian woman to drive a car, but Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was more than that. She wasn’t called the Lioness of Lisabi for no reason as she pioneered many groups that championed women’s rights. She founded a political party and was the first woman appointed to the Western House of Chiefs.
No single elected Nigerian president is on any of the naira banknotes, and Shagari can be the first as he’s the country’s first elected president.
Sawaba has been regarded as the most jailed Nigerian female politician due to her resilient activism. She campaigned against child marriage, unfair labour practices, and championed women’s rights. For her troubles, she was publicly flogged, had her hair shaved with a broken bottle and was imprisoned 16 times. If anyone has a claim to belonging on a naira banknote, Sawaba shouldn’t even need to raise her hands.
As one of Nigeria’s pro-democracy activists, Enahoro was the first to move the motion for the country’s independence in 1953. It’s why he’s regarded as the “Father of Nigerian Independence”. What more do you need to do to get your face on a naira banknote?
Gani Fawehinmi was a human and civil rights lawyer known for his vibrant activism for the underprivileged. He gained local and international recognition for his work but also suffered persecution by the government.
Like Sawaba and Ransome-Kuti, Ekpo was a rights activist and social mobiliser who created political pressure groups to fight for the interests of Nigerian women.
Taslim Olawale Elias
He already has the face of someone disappointed in the naira’s value
Elias was Nigeria’s first post-independence Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation. He went on to serve as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He also received 17 honorary doctorate degrees from various universities around the world.
If not for the intervention of Dr Ameyo Adadevoh, Nigeria’s ebola crisis of 2014 would’ve been worse than the eventual 20 confirmed cases and eight deaths, including her own. She made the ultimate sacrifice to protect millions from a similar fate. What more do you need to have your face on a naira banknote?
The brutal General Sani Abacha regime killed Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists in 1995, for their agitation against the environmental damage caused by crude oil extraction in Ogoniland. No compensation will restore his life, but his face on a naira banknote will immortalise him and the issues he fought.
Dora Akunyili watched her sister die as a result of complications from taking fake medicine and made it her life’s mission to ensure it didn’t happen to anyone else. As the head of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Akunyili fought powerful drug counterfeiters to keep millions of Nigerians from falling victim.
The story of African literature would be incomplete without the contribution and impact of Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart is the most widely studied, translated and read African novel.
He’d probably roll in his grave if his face appears on a naira banknote considering many of the issues he sang about still exist decades after his death. Even his arch-nemesis, Buhari, is currently president. But much of his life and music was devoted to activism to make the country better, so he has a valid claim.