By Jane Oma
Madam Abike Dabiri is asking on Twitter why people in the Diaspora have Naira notes on them.
On one of the posts I made a few days ago, I had to delete some distasteful comments.
And I tried to be as polite as possible to some others.
The truth is that there are lots of things you do not know until you experience them.
Do not make any assumptions just because you read someone saying something on social media.
It appears that there is quite a lot of Naira notes in the hands of Nigerians in Diaspora.
I’m not the only person.
And I can tell you why;
In 2015 when I arrived MMIA Lagos, I was almost forced to pay €20 for a trolley.
I didn’t have a Nigerian number then so someone told me that he could help me call my family to know where they where – and that he collects dollars – he then added that he doesn’t take coins, it must be notes.
I had no Naira notes on me.
So again if I were desperate for that call, it’d be another 20€ for a minute or two.
As at last year, it was about 1,500 Naira to get a trolley.
But someone would demand for me to give them 20€ (that was the smallest note I had on me) – just because they know I don’t have Naira on me and of course they don’t take coins which might have allowed me to pay the equivalent in euros…
1 euros last year was at about 680 Naira (please do the maths for 20€)
In 2016, an airport staff actually asked me for a pair of shoes to help me sort of the trolley issues.
On my way back in 2015, the airport officially told me that I needed to pay them money before they could allow me carry my crayfish.
They took the 2,500 Naira I had left on me and then told me it was not enough and that they accept dollars or euros.
The guy was determined to make my life difficult until he took 20 euros (which was the smallest note I had on me – because they don’t accept coins).
When we come in to the country, or when we are leaving, there are no families allowed into the airport to help us sort these things and if you do not have local currency on you, you have to be ready to part with 5/10/20/50/100 euros or dollars or pounds to those airport people.
From the migration officers to the trolley guys to the customs to many others, there are always people whose hands are in front of you upon your arrival at the airport or when you’re about to leave.
After these two very unpleasant experiences, I learnt my lesson;
Always have Naira on you.
A few people have shared even worse experiences.
And it seems many ended up with the decision to keep Naira on them as they travel to and from Nigeria.
Una see this thing, Nigeria is not ready!!
For this una Naira change, lots of money will be lost any how.
Spain has been gradually phasing out old notes for the past 3/4 years and everybody is fine.
Other countries take their time but Nigeria is in a hurry…
Everything is done in the usual way.
And some people will be saying nonsense that they do not understand.
As much as I can I try to avoid telling stories of some of the rut we experience in the system because I hold on to hope and faith…
Also; I am one of those people who is always very reluctant to call other countries “saner climes” because what is sanity??
If we told our stories, what are you going to do about it?
Anyway, that’s it.
There’s probably tons of Naira notes in the hands of Nigerian Diaspora.
Asking why is utterly useless and even disrespectful.
We have Naira on us, is all.
And the reason is because of the Nigerian system or lack thereof.
Madam Abike should know better.
With love always!
@views exclusive rights: Jane Oma, Entrepreneur, January 29, 2023.