“With gratitude to God for a life well spent, we announce the systematic and then sudden demise of our beloved friend and currency, Naira which is survived by 150 million people. RIP Naira.”
I arrived at this intro after days of pondering and wondering whether to use the “Inna lilahi” version of the obituary of our beloved Naira which was announced to me here in the city of Abidjan, the commercial capital of Côte d’Ivoire, hosts of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The Nigerian Naira lived for about 50 years before its demise after a protracted illness, authorities say. It is believed that its remains will not be embalmed as at yet as it still serves as a resource for citizens to use in their practical classes at home.
How and where did I receive the news?
I touched down at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport on Wednesday, 10th January, 2024, set for my third Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) coverage. After picking up my luggage, I moved to the Bureau de Change section (as I customarily do whenever I travel outside the country) to change just a little that can help me settle down for a day or two.
On getting there, I marched gallantly with my bail of N500 old notes with shoulders high like Kizz Daniel’s Bodyguard only to meet a snobby rejection from the attendant. “That money is dead,” he said in his irritable English. I was humbled for a minute and asked what’s the rate, he showed me but insisted they only receive new Naira notes. I don’t know when I said “Saanu mi Jesu.”
I was saved by the dollar note on me so I changed some to CFA, sufficient to take me through the city for at least twenty-four hours. It was when I woke up the next day to start my business that I realised the import of the statement made to me by that guy at the Bureau de Change.
I really underrated the CFA coming to this country, having in mind what it used to be just two years ago, let alone six years ago when I first went to Cameroon. The most used word here is that “Abidjan is expensive” but is it really? I wonder if the same would have been said if this was 2017 when the Naira was more than double the CFA?
The first time I went to eat at The Ivory Restaurant where my plate of Eba and Egusi cost 10,000 CFA, I wanted to consider it expensive then the spirits whispered to me: “Blame the Naira” because in truth, if this was four years ago, it would be 5,000 Naira which would have been an absolute steal for such quality meal.
9,000 Nairas now = 4,500 Cefas.— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) January 16, 2024
Okay now. https://t.co/PBEbY4N1Rt
Coping mechanisms then
I am a solution-oriented individual. I have learnt that there will always be problems, both prepared for and unexpected ones so whenever they show up, be fast to find solutions. This is same for this death of Naira scenario. So what have been my coping mechanism in the face of this circumstance?
It is obvious that transportation will take a large chunk of my resources so after spending about 8,000 CFA (N16,000) on a one-way trip to the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, the main Stadium for this AFCON on the opening ceremony day, I resolved to start following the Official Buses provided by CAF for accredited persons during match days.
When one of my mentors Alhaji Muideen Adeleke learnt about the demise of the Naira around a week ago after I featured on an OSBC Yoruba Sports Programme, he was absolutely shocked. During my formative years of being his mentee, I remember he travelled to a number of Francophone countries in Africa so when I told him that Naira is now basically half of the CFA, he couldn’t believe his ears.
This piece may not do enough to capture the daily sighs and shaking of head at the Naira especially among my Nigerian colleagues on a daily basis and the question on the lips on many now is: Who will save or how can the Naira be resurrected?
I do not know what to make of this. pic.twitter.com/o9EoAZObg8— Ihechimere Pearly (@dr_greaty) January 6, 2024
I’m not an Economist but even the best among the Economists in Nigeria seem clueless on what can be done. Well, in the midst of my Naira brouhaha, I met a couple of damsels from the Africa Global Logistics (AGL), one of CAF’s sponsors at this Africa Cup of Nations. But that’s not for this edition. See you later this week.