What Is This ‘Arabic Signal’ On The Naira All About?


The federal authorities, Central Financial institution of Nigeria (CBN) and attorney-general of the federation (AGF) are battling with a swimsuit filed by Malcolm Omirhobo, a Lagos-based lawyer, looking for the elimination of Arabic inscriptions from naira notes as a result of they “symbolize Islam”.

Why is that this such a giant problem? What precisely is that this ‘Arabic signal’?

TheCable does somewhat little bit of analysis and comes up with some attention-grabbing info.

Is it Arabic or Hausa?

Lengthy earlier than the British colonial authorities considered amalgamation — or introduced Western schooling to Nigeria — Arabic script had been launched to Hausaland (in modern-day northern Nigeria) by merchants and students from throughout the Sahara.

The right time period for this ‘Arabic signal’ is Ajami. It’s an Arabic-derived African writing system.

The Hausa folks used the Ajami script to jot down in Hausa language — therefore the confusion that it’s ‘Arabic’.

In a lot of Japanese Africa, Arabic-derived script is used to jot down Swahili, though the language itself is Bantu-based.

Since African languages contain phonetic sounds and techniques totally different from the Arabic language, there have been diversifications of the Arabic script to transcribe them.

That is just like what has been executed with the Arabic script in non-Arab international locations of the Center East and South Asia, with the Latin script in Africa or with the Latin-based Vietnamese alphabet.


“Utend̠i wa Tambuka” is an epic poem dated 1728. The language is Swahili however the script is Arabic-based.

That is complicated. What we see on the naira is clearly Arabic however you might be saying it’s Hausa.

The ‘Arabic signal’ on the naira is definitely Hausa language written in Arabic script.

As defined earlier, within the pre-colonial period, the Hausa folks took the Arabic script and made it their very own.

A typical northerner can learn Ajami even when they don’t perceive the Latin script that’s used for English.

The northern a part of Nigeria didn’t embrace Western schooling early, and there’s a sturdy resistance to it in lots of components until right now.

However most northerners are versed in Ajami, having undergone Arabic-based Quranic schooling as youngsters.

Okay then. Ought to Arabic script nonetheless be on naira notes? Why not the widespread Latin?

The argument towards the Arabic inscription on the naira notes is that it’s a violation of sections 10 and 55 of the Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Part 10 of 1999 Structure reads: “The Authorities of the federation or of a state shall not undertake any faith as state faith.”

The notion is that Arabic and Islam are the identical, and this has led to accusations that the Arabic “image” on the naira connotes faith and promotes Islamisation.

Nonetheless, part 55 specifies that the nation’s affairs have to be performed in English, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.

Since Ajami script is in Hausa language and isn’t a logo of Islam or any faith, many will argue that no legislation has been violated.

Nigerian legal guidelines are silent on the script for writing, though the most typical is Latin.

Nigeria used kilos and shillings as nationwide currencies earlier than the change to naira and kobo in 1973. Each had the Ajami script.

I’m holding a N10 invoice proper now. I can’t discover any Arabic script on it. Are you positive of all you might have been saying?

In February 2007, the federal government eliminated Arabic script from some lower-denomination notes. It mentioned that Ajami was now not obligatory as a result of most Nigerians may now learn and write in English.

The federal government additionally mentioned it eliminated Ajami with a view to conform to Nigeria’s 1999 structure.

In 2014, the Goodluck Jonathan administration issued a brand new N100 observe to commemorate the 1914 amalgamation.

Naira Goma (N10) was written in Hausa with Ajami script till 2007

In 2007, Naira Goma was modified from Ajami to Latin script

Naira Goma (N10) was written in Hausa with Ajami script till 2007

In 2007, Naira Goma was modified from Ajami to Latin script

On earlier the banknote, the phrases “Naira Dari” — Hausa for “100 naira” — appeared in Ajami.

Now, the Hausa was printed, just like the Yoruba and Igbo, in Latin letters (English).

This was extremely controversial and was seen in non secular and political contexts.

Presently, there’s Ajami script on N1,000, N500 and N200 notes.


Supply: TheCable

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