A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, has urged the Nigerian government to remove the Arabic language on the Nigerian naira notes.
According to the PUNCH, Agbakoba wondered why Arabic inscription is on the naira when Nigeria is not an Islamic state.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria asked the government to replace it with the country’s indigenous languages.
He said, “I don’t think Arabic should be on the naira. We are not an Arabic country. I don’t know why that sign should be there.
“I asked similar questions when I was a member of the National Judicial Council when the question about the understanding of the Sharia Law came up, and I opposed the then CJN, Aloma Mukhtar that I didn’t see how it should be a requirement for judges of Islamic origin to understand Arabic. I’m a Roman Catholic, does it mean that a Catholic judge must speak Latin? I think these are the sort of things we need to get rid of for a united, independent nation. We are not an Arabic nation.
“So, it will be nice to get rid of all the Arabic inscriptions and symbols, or are we trying to say we are Arabic? I don’t get the point. If it were Hausa or Igbo or Yoruba language, it makes more sense, but Arabic is not part of our language. We should replace it with our language.”
Speaking further, Agbakoba said although the country’s electoral processes are not perfect, marked improvements have been recorded in a series of recent elections conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“It’s a long journey. To strengthen the democratic process, many things are required. The first thing would be to strengthen the constitution. In fairness, since the last 20 years, the process has improved particularly under Attahiru Jega and Mahmood Yakubu, but I still need to see a substantial amendment to the electoral process.
“INEC is doing far too many things, that is why it has not been very competent. It is the biggest printer of papers in Nigeria, but that should not be the job of INEC. The job of INEC is like the referee in a football match. So, we need to interrogate its roles and ask whether it can do the multiple roles it is doing, and if not, what can we remove from it to make them more efficient? I think the duty of INEC should be to go and count the votes on the election day.
“The second thing is for it to be independent. We have not seen INEC be independent with the way it defends cases in court. INEC should not be defending cases in court. If both of us are contesting a senatorial seat, if I lose and I go to court, the role of INEC is to bring all the papers it used in conducting the election. INEC should not be filing any papers as a defence.
“When we sat in the Mohammed Uwais panel on Electoral Reform, we said INEC’s position must be neutral. If anybody questions INEC’s work in respect of vote counting, let the court decide it, not INEC. During the Buhari – Atiku case, INEC came and vigorously defended the elections. That’s not for INEC to do. It means it’s not neutral. Let the court listen to all, ask INEC to bring the papers and then decide,” he said.