Monday, July 3, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: The 20 Pounds Ex-gratia Payments


The £10  that Effiong asked for was for good reason,  and the profound disappointment about the £20  was because a rumor had gone round that the exchange rate was going be Biafran £20 to the Nigerian pound - not the flat £20.  

You can read all of this from an exchange that I had on USAFricadialogue back in October 2012 titled "On the Matter of Nigerian and Biafran Dollars, Union "Greenbacks" and Confederate "Greybacks" {Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Achebe, Soyinka, and the Rest of US "


Toyin Adepoju:

You wrote:


[Achebe] alleges the 20 pounds given to every Igbo person after the war as an effort at economic sabotage of Igbos. 

That claim cannot be made outside a serious analysis of how the currency of one nation defeated in a war can be absorbed by that of another nation. What was the real value of the Biafran currency? Was it worthless or did it have any value, if it had value, what was that value based on?


May your tribe increase!

Forty-two years later, away from the emotionalism of the moment, those are the kinds of questions that academics should contend with.  One of the tragedies of Nigerian academia is that there is hardly any "Biafranist" of all hues - from East, West and North of Nigeria - meeting (say) every year to thrash out issues of the Civil War in the give-and-take atmosphere of academia, and we are therefore left with the episodic interventions like that of Prof. Achebe, who, together with possibly Prof. Soyinka, one would have loved to convene an annual convention.

Moving on...

First a quick bit of Nigeria civil war history with regard to currency:

-  30 December 1967: Nigeria's Finance Commissioner Chief Awolowo announces that new Nigerian notes would replace the current notes in circulation between 3 January and 22 January 1968 (about six months after the civil war began in July 1967); 

- January 28, 1968:  Biafra's own currency (the Biafran Pound) goes public; Biafra banned the use of Nigerian pounds as units of exchange within its borders, requiring its citizens to exchange Nigerian pounds for Biafran pounds immediately

- Naturally, Nigeria banned use of Biafran currency everywhere on Nigerian soil, as well as old Nigerian currency after January 1968.

On this issue of exchanging Biafran money for Nigerian currency  - to the tune of 20 Nigerian pounds and no more -   I have previously established,  in discussions with either Dr. Tim Menakaya (in private discussion in Abuja) or Obi Aduba (here on the Net) that:

- returnee Biafrans (either as Biafran land was progressively liberated or after the war)  who had bank or savings accounts left behind  and un-operated in Nigeria,and could prove ownership,  got their FULL equivalent of Nigerian money back.

- Biafrans who had old Nigerian currency that had been changed in January 1968, and got stuck with them, got nothing, just as other Nigerians too got nothing;

- Biafrans who either commingled Nigerian and Biafran currency in their bank accounts (operated within Biafra) and those who had only Biafran currency and wanted to exchange them got a flat rate of 20 pounds no matter the volume of Biafran dollar that they had (this was contrary to a rife rumor that the exchange rate Biafran pound to new Nigerian pound would be 20 Biafran pounds to the Nigerian pound; this was part of the profound disappointment - rumor versus reality.)


-It is estimated that a total of £198.5 million Biafran currency was printed in two series, of which £115–140 million Biafran pounds were in circulation by the end of the conflict, which, with a population of about 14 million, was approximately £10 per person  [See on Biafra and Symes: The Bank Notes of Biafra;  Symes essay is a must read. ]  This did not include an un-knowable amount of counterfeit currency.

-   According to Awolowo, it cost approximately £230.8 million in local currency and £70.8 Million in foreign currency to prosecute the Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970.  

- In 1970 (the end of war year), Nigeria's oil revenue was £97.3 million; total federally collected revenue was £370.5 million; federal government retained revenue was £262.4 million, total budget expenditure was £528.2 million and therefore budget deficit was £265.8 million. (estimates expressed here are based on the Naira to £ exchange rate of 1.7114; See

Moving on....

 I went into some research of the American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 9, 1865 (by declaration))  for some historical guidance and antecedence as to how the victorious "Union" dealt with currency issues vis-a-vis the defeated secessionist "Confederates".

In April 1861, in one of the very first few acts of defiance,  the secessionist Southern Confederates issued currency  - the Confederate States of America Dollar - colloquially called "Greybacks" in apposition to the "Greenback"  dollar of the Federal Union.  They were really promissory notes, not backed by hard assets,  to be redeemed in the event that the Confederates won the war.

Front of Confederate notes (back unprinted)


Confederate Treasury Notes (Banknotes) were ultimately issued in 50-cent, $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000 denominations with a variety of designs, issuers and redeemable obligations. The amount of currency issued under the various acts of the Confederate Congress totaled $1.7 billion. Bills were released in 72 different note "types" in seven "series" from 1861 through 1864.

Since there were many types of Confederate notes as well as notes issued by the states of the Confederacy, and since banks could issue their own notes, counterfeiting was a major problem for the Confederacy. Many of these contemporary counterfeits are identifiable today and they can be as valuable to a collector as a real note.[7]

Confederate dollars and coins are regarded as a cherished part of American history, and remain the subject of a lively trade, with careful grading of damage and deterioration similar to booksellers' gradings.


The Confederates lost, and the currency became worthless at the end of the war, made legally so ie worthless, by the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution (adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments),  whose Section 3  banned any Federal OR state office for Confederate officials or supporters (this Section has since been abrogated, and some rights restored posthumously and retroactively ) and in Section 4 permanently banned recognition of Confederate debts or currency.

QUOTE Sections 3 and 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.


I am sure that we will have this discussion AGAIN in five years time, God giving us breath.

Bolaji Aluko

On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 9:01 PM, Salimonu Kadiri <> wrote:

Bolaji, we must take into consideration that it is not just a modern phenomenon that we have ghost of everything in Nigeria, since we had it already in 1970 and a typical example of that was the Biafran Bank depositors. Those who are arguing here about the devaluation of money deposited in Nigeria Banks before and after the civil war are pretending as if all adult Igbos had bank accounts in 1967 on the outbreak of the civil war. From what I know, most Nigerians of that time lived from hands to mouth and traders had their bank accounts under their pillows. A negligible percent of Nigerians, including the Igbos, had bank accounts in 1967. Therefore, those Ghost Igbo bank depositors claiming that their thousands of pounds deposits in Nigerian banks were devalued or revalued to twenty pounds in 1970 are thieves or potential fraudsters. In the May 2013, Issue of the New African Magazine, Nigeria's propagator of 'AFRICAPITALIST,' Tony O. Elumelu, had this to say about Banking habits in Nigeria, "Case in point: in 1997, I led a group of entrepreneurs in the acquisition of a Nigerian Bank that was on the verge of collapse. We did what business people and investors do all over the world: we created a roadmap for the organisation. At the heart of our mission, however, was an important social vision: TO DEMOCRATISE THE BANKING SECTOR IN NIGERIA. AT THE TIME, IN A POPULATION OF MORE THAN 110 MILLION PEOPLE, FEWER THAN 10% HAD BANK ACCOUNTS(p.50)." If in 1997 fewer than 10% of Nigeria's population had bank accounts one can easily guess how many Nigerians had bank accounts in Nigeria thirty years earlier, in 1967, when purchasing power was limited to few politicians and their complacent senior civil servants.

Government anywhere on earth has no legal obligation to interfere in private transactions between an individual and his/her bank and in case of disputes it is only the police, if crime is involved, and the courts, in criminal or civil process that should resolve such. Government could not, and did not, dictate to the banks if the bank books operated in Biafra with Biafra currencies were valid or not. Banks decided, independent of the government, which money was genuine and which one was counterfeit and not transact-able. Federal government had no right to poke-nose into any bank to ascertain individual customer's accounts. Nevertheless, the federal government was very magnanimous when it set up a committee to decide on what to do to ameliorate the sufferings of Biafrans in possession of huge bundles of Biafran currencies that were valueless in Nigeria. Philp Effiong, the man who was made to carry the shame of Biafra's defeat asked for £10, and the federal government gave £20, social benefits for all Biafrans who requested for it. However, Igbo extremists who believe that Biafra was not defeated are interpreting the doctrine of 'no victor, no vanquished' to imply that the military ranks and currency in Biafra, automatically, were valid in Nigeria. Yet, when their General was pardoned, he applied and received pension, until his death, from the Ministry of Defence in Nigeria as a Lieutenant Colonel and not as a General that he claimed to be in Biafra.

S. Kadiri



Från: Mobolaji Aluko <>
Skickat: den 3 juli 2017 08:47
Till: Okechukwu Ukaga
Kopia:;; Obi Nwakanma;; Olayinka Agbetuyi; Julius Fakinlede
Ämne: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: The 20 Pounds Ex-gratia Payments


You are writing here about either an impossible scenario, or an outrightly illegal one. 

Please come with me here... 

Before the war,  you have a Barclays Bank passbook with X pounds balance.   You go to Biafra, and the Bank Of Biafra is established.   Clearly you cannot use EXACTLY the same passbook,  can you, without a Barclay's Bank branch? 

Now you obtain a BofB passbook,  and exactly the same Barclays Bank balance (which was in Nigerian pounds, does not matter whether old or new)  is transferred to the BofB passbook,  and during  the war you  add  Y and subtract Z Biafra pounds to it. 

Pray,  if Z is greater than Y,  what balance should be given to you?   You want X?  Does that mean you never spent any of X?     Even if Z is equal to or less than Y,  whose responsibilty is it to give you any money at all:  Barclays Bank or the FGN?   

During the period of the war,  not only had you violated the legality of Barclay's Bank passbook in exchange for BofB's,  you did not make your balance available for Barclays Bank trading!  

So even though you have asked us to move on,  you still sound grieved,  one is yet to understand what were the alternatives government had, since the 20 pounds cash transfer plan (which had to be multiplied by the potential number of awardees to gauge it's true cost) remains a sore point after all of these years.   How many had 1 million pounds balance?   100,000?  10,000?  Why has there not been an NGO to tally these and file a class action suit? 

About a decade ago,  a few of us voiced our active support if such a class action suit was filed when these same discussions arose.   We were met with radio silence. 

One more point:  a separate business resettlement fund was set up for Biafra returnees.   We hardly hear of that, but that aided their  recovery far more than the 20 pounds. 

And there you have it. 

Bolaji Aluko 

On Sunday, July 2, 2017, Okechukwu Ukaga <> wrote:
First of all, I think we should move on and focus on building a sustainable Nigeria. However, to add to the perspectives already shared on this list regarding this subject, it is pertinent to note that even among the few who came with proofs (such as passbook or other official banks records) and those whose records where in banks not destroyed by war, not all got the full balance of their deposit without difficulty. For instance, if you deposited 1000 Nigeria pounds in a bank before the war, and there is satisfactory evidence of that, but you happen to be in Biafran section during the war and thus used the Passbook to add or subtract even 1 pound (usually in Biafran pound), you will automatically fall under the group that should get only 20 pounds rather than the actual balance of your money in the bank. This does not make sense  given the argument that the Biafran pound is worthless and not recognized by the Nigerian government. At best, any addition or subtraction of Biafran pounds to the original Nigerian pounds should be ignore. At worst, any such addition should should be ignored but subtraction factored so the account owner gets the least possible balance. But to offer only 20 pounds even if you have a million pounds just because you had transaction in Briafra doesn't make sense unless the goal is to punish folks for being on the Biafran side. But again, all of these should be behind us. Let's focus on a making the country a more perfect union.

On Jul 1, 2017 4:27 AM, "Ogbuagu Anikwe" <> wrote:
I tend to agree with Nikki based in part on what Awo said here: " Unfortunately, all the banks' books had been burnt, and MANY (my emphasis) of the people who had savings there didn't have their savings books or their last statement of account..." This implies that there were a few who came forward with proofs and that these did not have any challenges getting their money back fully.

Again, let me reiterate that I would have continued to keep my peace if there was no effort to play with the facts of history on this point.

The other question that is still hanging in suspense is how come there were missing records of account holders in banks situated outside the Eastern Region?

I greet you all.

On 01-Jul-2017 8:03 am, "Mobolaji Aluko" <> wrote:

Dear All:

In fact,  the questions have been asked and answered,  both by myself more than a decade ago,  and by Dr. Tim Menekaya (who had his Nigerian savings intact when he returned to Nigeria from Biafra). 

If only the Archives would be consulted, we would not be going over the same grounds episodically.... 

We must remember that Nigerian currency was changed early during the conflict.   In fact that was one of the major masterstrokes ascribed to Finance Minister Awolowo. 

So there were three sets of Biafra returnees:

(1)  those who had monies in Nigerian banks even during the war and never moved some or all of them.   Like Menekaya  - as he testified - they got all their money back if they had their passbooks and/or could prove their identities.  Is there no record of such people, so that it does not look as if absolutely no returning Biafran was treated justly and fairly money-wise? 

(2)  those who had on them old Nigerian currency caught behind war lines.  Remember that there were also "loyal" Nigerians (who did not secede)  who were also left holding old currency (for whatever reason)  in this same category.   What then should have been the old Nigerian currency/new currency exchange rate, and how many total number of people were claimants? 

(3)  those who had on them either Biafra's currency and/or Biafra Bank accounts denominated in Biafran pounds.   With the rush to print "rebel" pounds not backed really by resources, what should  have been the recommended old Biafra/new Nigerian pound exchange rate? 

My point is fixation should not be on the 20 pounds,  but on what the total Nigerian outlay would have been if every adult Biafran returnee had asked for/claimed that amount for himself.   In the archives piece,  I calculated (if I remember rightly)  that it would be about 60 percent of Nigeria's budget or so.  (Have we never asked:  why 20 pounds?   Why not 10 pounds?   Why not 50?  Would 10,000 pounds per person have been fairer?   Or one new Nigerian pound for each old pound,  and the same exchange for each Biafra's pound?) 

So these questions have been asked and responded to,  but not to everyone's satisfaction - or to their knowledge that they were asked. 

We should remain engaged.

Bolaji Aluko 

On Saturday, July 1, 2017, Olayinka Agbetuyi <> wrote:
I dont know myself. The reason I ask is unless we investigate we may be unable yo ascertain whether some got more than a flat allocation to all.


Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

-------- Original message --------
From: Ogbuagu Anikwe <>
Date: 01/07/2017 01:32 (GMT+00:00)
To: Olayinka Agbetuyi <>
Subject: Re: The 20 Pounds Ex-gratia Payments

No I have not. This is also the first time that this question is being raised. It is worth investigating, especially because we all have assumed that this was not the case. Do you have any information yourself to put forward?

Having said this, let me reiterate that my intention was to challenge Kadiri's false claim that post civil war ex-gratia payments were some sort of "social grant" made to "any returnee Biafran who requested for it," rather than what they were - payments in lieu of savings and money left behind by Easterners who fled to the Biafran enclave at the beginning of hostilities. 

Best wishes.

On 30-Jun-2017 7:55 pm, "Olayinka Agbetuyi" <> wrote:

Ogbuagu Anikwe:

Have you personally investigated whether the committee paid ex-Biafrans who had savings where the records were not burnt?  What are your findings?

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

-------- Original message --------
From: Ogbuagu Anikwe <>
Date: 30/06/2017 10:03 (GMT+00:00)
Subject: The 20 Pounds Ex-gratia Payments

Frankly, I am awed by Kadiri's boldness in revising historial records and pushing forward new interpretations. Here is another one on ex-gratia payments made by the federal government to returnee account holders from the Eastern Region after the Civil War:

"All the bank operations inside Biafra during the war were null and void and moreover the Biafran currency (pound) was illegal and not tenable anywhere in the world. For almost three years, Biafra was an enclave of starving citizens, therefore, the Biafran pounds were not printed on any real economic activities. It should not be forgotten that Nigeria prosecuted the war without borrowing a farthing from the outside world. Despite that, the federal government could still offer £20 social grant to the liberated Biafrans who requested for it. As of today, less than 30% of Nigerians have bank accounts which was even much more less in 1967-1970. Thus, it is dishonest and fraudulent to pretend as if all Igbo had bank deposit in Nigeria at the end of."

Rather than dispute this claim, allow me to offer what Chief Awolowo himself said on the subject when he was interviewed by a group of journalists at a town hall meeting in Abeokuta in 1983:

"That's what I did, and the case of the money they said was not given back to them, you know during the war all the pounds were looted, they printed Biafran currency notes, which they circulated, at the close of the war some people wanted their Biafran notes to be exchanged for them. Of course I couldn't do that, if I did that the whole country would be bankrupt. We didn't know about Biafran notes and we didn't know on what basis they have printed them, so we refused the Biafran note, but I laid down the principle that all those who had savings in the banks on the eve of the declaration of the Biafran war or Biafra, will get their money back if they could satisfy us that they had the savings there, or the money there. Unfortunately, all the banks's books had been burnt, and many of the people who had savings there didn't have their saving books or their last statement of account, so a panel had to be set up.

I didn't take part in setting up the panel, it was done by the Central Bank and the pertinent officials of the ministry of finance, to look into the matter, and they went carefully into the matter, they took some months to do so, and then make some recommendation which I approved. Go to the archives, all I did was approve, I didn't write anything more than that, I don't even remember the name of any of them who took part. So I did everything in this world to assist our Ibo brothers and sisters during and after the war."

So Mr Kadiri sir, the federal government DID NOT "offer £20 social grant to the liberated Biafrans who requested for it," as falsely claimed. Rather, ex-gratia payments were made ONLY TO those who were able to satisfly a mystery committee set up by the government that they had savings in Nigerian banks prior to the Civil War.

Should we blame Chief Awolowo for the fact that the bank books were burnt and that many of the returnee account holders had lost their savings passbooks? I should not think so. But we can ask questions about issues that remain unclear from his explanations above.

Was the burning of bank records of Biafran returnees a deliberate act? To understand the import of this question, here's another question: Why were ex-gratia payments made to those who had accounts in banks located in other parts of the country, outside the Eastern Region? Whle it is reasonable that bank records in the eastern region could be destroyed during the war, what about bank records in other parts of the country where they also maintained accounts - - in the midwest, west, and north - prior to the Civil War? If these category of bank customers were equally paid ex-gratia of 20 pounds in lieu of their bank savings, does this mean that their records in these places were also burnt? If so, who did the burning and why?

The work of the committee that recommended ex-gratia has continued to be shrouded in secrecy to this day, so much so that Awo had to confess that he could not recall who were its members, and how it determined the criteria used to pay claimants.

I thank Kadiri for trying on this one but he should know that it is not in any doubt that  ex-gratia payments (a) rightly neither contemplated nor accommodated account holders from defunct Biafran Banks, and (b) were not made as social grants to just any returnee Biafran who felt like showing up to ask for it.


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