“ALARENJI” The Money Changer 

Posted on February 28, 2024
 
 
Poverty is not a failure but the failure to work against what makes you fail remains the true failure. Grass must be cut off in order to pave way for good seeds to grow. The Nigerian Naira was introduced on the first of January 1973, which replaced the Nigerian Pound at a rate of two Naira to a Pound. The Naira continued its stability and grew in potency until bad policies and corrupt  practices were allowed into the system untamed, which suffocated and converted the Naira to a coward among its equals. 
In the late 1970s, at the Central Bank of Nigeria environs, located at Tinubu Square, Lagos State, there were few numbers of Yoruba men who traded on foreign currencies. They would sit under a tree in front of the Central Bank to sell foreign currencies to buyers, who needed more of foreign currencies for foreign transactions and they were referred to as “ALARENJI” by the public.
The money changers would purchase foreign currencies at bank rate from bank officials, possibly giving the bankers commissions, and sell to buyers at a higher rate. As government authorities began to hunt for those who sell foreign currencies in the black market in order to prevent depreciation of Naira, it became a taboo in the sight of the Yoruba society to associate with any of their citizens who engaged in illegal transaction of the currencies. This posture of the Yorubas, anchored on a solid rock of morality, obliterated such practices in Lagos State, as anyone who engaged in it was greeted with isolation by the society.
In the 1980s, during Shagari government, Northerners resuscitated the foreign currency trade until Buhari, through the iron fist of late General Tunde Idiagbon of blessed memory, hunted down the illegal currency activities to the barest minimum.
The currency business regained boom during Banbagida’s regime and became rooted in the Nigerian system till date, which as a result has beaten the Naira into coma in the global currencies arena. It has remained a medium through which illegal currency deals are carried out in many dimensions. In the banking industry, it has widened the pockets of top corrupt bank officials as they deny the public access to buy foreign currency from the bank at bank rate, but sell at a higher rate to money changers, who will sell to the public at alarming rates.
In some instances, money changers, in collaboration with corrupt bank officials, hoard foreign currencies to create scarcity in order to increase the money ratio exchanges against the Naira. The same method of attacks are being launched against Naira notes as bankers hoard Naira notes to create scarcity and sell to Point Of Sales agents, who sell to the public at a higher rate. Bankers sell also neat Naira notes to money changers, who sell same at ceremonies. These unholy cultures are inimical to the economy of a nation as citizens remain at the recieving end of the whole atrocious operations.
In my view, the war against the free fall of Naira and the mega incessant inflation, militating against the very survival of Nigerians, should start with bank owners and bank officials. We should eliminate middle party system in the money market, as we enforce one currency system in all transactions within the Nigerian borders.
We should encourage currency swap agreement with foreign partners to ditch the dollar, which will positively affect the prices of imported goods as the differences of, and the need of buying dollars with Naira will be eliminated. It will bring about a demand for Naira in foreign lands and strengthen the potency of Naira in a very high degree.
#SAVETHENAIRA
– Ambassador Ezewele Cyril Abionanojie is the author of the book ‘The Enemy Called Corruption’ and an Award Winner ‘Best Columnist of The Year’ ‘Giant in Security Support’ ‘The Nigerian Statesmanship-Integrity and Productivity’ among others. He is the President of Peace Ambassadors Global.

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