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Era of ‘naira disgrace’: Clarion call for engagement of curators


WITHOUT doubt, Nigeria is in dire need of the services or more museum curators, archive preservation specialists and document handling experts of several guises, especially those whose expertise is in handling paper.

  The need is more obvious now that we are faced with a general era of ‘naira (or should it be Nigeria) disgrace’.

  Events of recent weeks, and arguably the past years have shown that the country is in extreme need of men and women who are adept in handling, keeping and preserving paper documents, particularly currency notes.

  Since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its ongoing project of replacing the highest denominations of naira notes – N200; N500 and N1,000 – the social media space has been inundated with images of hauls of naira notes exhumed or burst into by ‘search missions’ that discovered many wads of money, to the chagrin of the world.

The haulage is always unbelievable given the sums involved. They always left the public wondering how there happened to be such amount of money starched away from circulation.

  But the most thrilling (if that is the word) aspects of the finds is that despite the monies being hidden neatly and in well-arranged parcels, they all emerged from the closets, rotten, useless and very dangerous for human contact. All the billions of naira, so far discovered, are no longer in the condition to be regarded as legal tender, let alone big in public use or in contact with humans given their toxicity and other health risks possible from them.

Definitely, those who hid the notes in those odd places, even if many of them would not want to be linked to the finds now, would have wished the monies were in good condition now. If they had engaged the services of one or two curators which would have taken not even a significant fraction of the hauls, the monies may not have been found in such bad states as they are now.

Almost all of them are wasted which makes one wonder the level of depreciation of some notes stored in the vaults of money banks across country.

  Indeed many would deem this call for curators of money unusual but that is clearly the vacuum, visible in the current national embarrassment of unveiling dirty rotten naira notes in social media.

Ponder, many of us visit museums in Europe where we behold paper works as old as the ages, from the Egyptian to Roman empires. We view printed materials of mediaeval era, some as old as the 15th century AD where when printing debuted in China and Germany.

A visit to the archives, say in Britain, Italy and even Alexandria in Egypt offers millions of handwritten or printed documents that date as far as the period of our pre-colonial ancestors. The fact that we still find the paper documents in good conditions and our grandchildren would very likely find them to behold and savour establishes the vital roles curators play in preserving important documents.

Even if urging those who hide away money to engage the treasure keepers strike as a joke, the smear and shame that the exhumation of those abused currencies, some of which turned dust upon touch, and the requisite concern that any alert society should develop for such a disease-prone phenomenon ought to make us think out of the box.

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