By Morenike Taire
IT is a long way away from the days when we bought and sold with cowries; in the days when a lady with uncommon whiteness of denture would be referred to as eyin fun jâ€™owo, in tribute to the glossy whiteness of the cowrie.
Before the Chinese manufacturedÂ the first cowrie imitations at the end of the stone age around 1000BC with bronze and copper, cowries had been in use in virtually every continent ofÂ the world as the first and longest running form of money.
While the Chinese and others developed metal money (first from base metals and then from gold and silver by the Greek and Roman empires), many African communities continued to use cowries until the arrival of colonialism. Various materials, including leather, have also been used to manufacture money, including leather also by the Chinese, and paper money in 806AD.
It was to be over a millennium before the English in 1816 officially made gold the standard of value. Guidelines were then made to allow for a non-inflationary production of standard banknotes which represented a certain amount of gold.
Banknotes had been used in England and Europe for several hundred years before this time, but their worth had never been tied directly to gold. In the United States, the Gold Standard Act was officially enacted in 1900, which helped lead to the establishment of a central bank. This was how it was to be, until the cookie crumbled with the Great Depression, and the end of the Gold Standard was reached. In the end, we ended up with what we have now.
Interestingly, after all said and done and over the millennia, money whether made out of paper or silver, tied to the value of gold or the dollar, or simply picked off the beach like the cowrie has always followed the laws of demand and supply.
So why have we, for the umpteenth time, ended up with a currency on a freefall, which once again would not comply with the rule: â€œEverything that goes up must come downâ€?
From 0.658NGN in 1972 of the oil boom days, the Naira exchanges, (when you can find a means of exchange outside of the streets) at N150 to the dollar. The reason given for this by one CBN Governor and Finance Minister after another is our monocultural economy.
Needless to say, Nigeria is a monocultural economy in the sense in which it is, solely because we have not used our mono culture, as it were, in such a way as to make it of optimal benefit to us. Modern nations use their exclusive advantages to their benefit, including the worldâ€™s biggest exporters of oil as well as Japan and the so-called Asian Tigers who have survived– no, thrived–on a mono culture.
Experts have continually told us the way by which Nigeriaâ€™s oil can be used to boost Nigeriaâ€™ economy without it having to be the so-called curse. These include using it to drive domestic energy costs to low levels few other nations can compete with, in order to competitively run other aspects of our economy.
Another is the sheer exploitation of the black gold, from which can be extracted more than a hundred different useful products, apart from gasoline which is the most commonly known and used.
Using oil as an excuse for impoverishing the people instead of empowering them is a trend that has to stop
Nigeria supports NATO mission in Afghanistan
The UN-authorisedÂ NATO mission in Afghanistan has brought about a lot of controversy, not least from Africa and the rest of the Western world.
The mission, meant to stabilise Afghanistan and help the government defend itself from Taliban insurgents, has seen such varied reactions from different parts of the world that there is no doubt the world has changed considerably in its thinking.
According to an exclusive release of results a poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org in collaboration with research partners in more than 20 countries, including Nigeria and Kenya, respondents in few developed countries support the mission.
The United States, Great Britain and France were in support, though with marginal percentages except in the US (72 per cent). Other developed nations such as Russia, Poland and Germany were in strong disagreement with the action.
But while more developed African countries (such as Egypt with 44 per cent in approval), underdeveloped African nations such as Nigeria and Kenya were at the top of the approval charts with 64 and 74 percent respectively.
Strange, considering the uproar over the JTF action in the Niger Delta.