Although the development is just making the news worldwide, reports claim that the traditional ruler, King Ademola Ajibola, introduced the currency in
August 2021. the currency which is in a form of a voucher, and dubbed the ‘TLK voucher’, is a legal tender within the Ijara-Isin community.
Ijara-Isin is a small community located in the southern part of Kwara State, in North-Central Nigeria. The traditional ruler, the Olusin of Ijara-Isin, King Ademola Ajibola, not only built a new market for the people but also introduced a new legal tender to ease trade and rural empowerment.
The ruler would visit the Oja Oba market once every week to share the vouchers with market women and other commuters.
However, under strict instructions by the traditional ruler, the vouchers cannot be exchanged for Nigerian Naira but used to buy food items within the community.
So, within the community, the king’s currency is a legal tender for buying food items. Reports claim that the traditional ruler also insists that the vouchers, which he distributes freely, are to be given only to the needy and less privileged.
Some economic experts commended the initiative as a palliative for the economic hardship in Nigeria but others are concerned about the king's decision to create another means of legal tender within the country.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), over 91 million persons live in absolute poverty in Nigeria, fueled by a 20 percent inflation in food prices.
Those who favour the initiative say that the King has been able to successfully solve the problem of cash inflow in the community. In many rural communities like Ijara-Isin, citizens have to travel large distances and pay extra charges for withdrawals from mobile bank agents and Point-of-Sale (POS) operators who offer cash-back services.
However, the story of the community is not all about paradise. The traditional stool in the town is the subject of litigation in court, some of the cases lingering for over 30 years. Mr. Ajibola is the first from his section of the town (Ile Olusin). Hence, many critics are of the opinion that the new king is trying “to buy the support of the people”. Some of the indigenes who support other factions share the same views.
Mr. Ajibola’s section of the town was banned from the throne in 1911. After years of litigations, in 2014, the late Oba Omoniyi Banigbe, Mr. Ajibola’s immediate predecessor, and the council of chiefs had an out-of-court settlement. However, a section of the town, Odo-Ijara, was not satisfied with the settlement and went to court again to challenge the new arrangement.
According to the king, his initiative was inspired by what he saw in the United States in 2021, where vouchers were being used as a means of exchange in some factories, a close aide told reporters.
He created the voucher system upon his return to Nigeria in August 2021. Earlier, the monarch had converted a part of the moribund Nigerian Postal Service office in the community into a microfinance bank called Ijara-Isin Development Fund Centre (IDFC). The micro-finance bank now issues the vouchers. Because IDFC does not have the license to operate as a micro-finance bank, it uses the license of a micro-finance bank owned by the king, Mount Olive Microfinance Bank, Ilorin.
Upon operation, sources close to the traditional ruler said that the king has had visits from the Secret Security Service (SSS). Despite the enlightenment campaign that the vouchers were not to replace money in the community, the king’s initiative is facing a lot of stiff opposition.
We would provide more updates as they unfold. What are your thoughts?