The Special Adviser Media and Publicity to President Muhammdu Buhari, Femi Adesina, revealed how he is also affected by the naira scarcity by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s currency redesign.
Adesina, in an article titled “Living on shoestring budget,” said he has been spending N20,000 for one week.
The article reads in part, “We left Abuja on January 23, on a journey that would take us to Bauchi, Lagos, Senegal, Katsina, Kano, and Jigawa states. Return date was January 31, in the evening hours.
“Since January 31 was then the terminal date for key denominations of the naira to be legal tender, I didn’t want to be like the unwise cripple, who had been told that war was approaching, but who stayed put in the same spot. So I parked everything I had, every dime, and sent it to the bank. I didn’t want my modest funds to become something fit only for the museum.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) later secured a ten days extension of the deadline from President Muhammadu Buhari, which has now been further extended by a Supreme Court ruling. But it has not changed the fact that I’ve been spending the sum of N20,000 for one week, and I’m still spending it. Shoestring budget? Yes, you are right. That’s what it is.
“Major part of our Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) had been paid in old currency, so I’d deposited it in my bank right in Katsina. I returned to Abuja, almost in tabula rasa. Empty. I thought it was just a matter of going to my bank, and getting new currency notes. Whosai! Too optimistic.
“For three days, I operated with just the N6,000 I had in my pocket. By Friday, it had shrunk to N2,500.00. What a huge war chest!
“You, a Special Adviser to President of the most populous country in Africa! Are you for real? Just N2,500.00? Well, those in government itch as well, and scratch as hard. That is what some people don’t know. The hen sweats, but its feathers make the sweat indiscernible. There was I, on a Friday, worth only N2,500.00 in new notes, both home and abroad.
“I called my banker, told him my plight, and he first laughed as if laughter was going out of fashion. After seeing that I was serious, he said the best he could do was get N20,000.00 for me, through the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), which was his own entitlement for the day.
“Well, beggars can’t be choosers, and half bread, as they say, is better than none. I sent my driver to collect the money, and promptly cancelled all the engagements I had lined up for the weekend. When you stay in your house, watching football and making yourself happy, you need not spend much money, if at all.
“But the first challenge had to be confronted. The car tank was almost at empty. It would take about N15,000.00 to fill it up. What to do? Buy N8,000.00 worth of fuel, which gave a half tank. We are making progress. And the remaining N12,000.00, one held in a tight fist. Not even an ant could touch it.
Fortunately, my dear late mother was an Ijebu woman. And people from Ijebu are said to be thrifty, and know how to operate on shoestring budgets. I had part of that blood running through my veins.
“From Friday till the following Wednesday, I became very gentle, (by force) stretching N12,000.00 as far as I could. Fortunately, there was enough food at home. If there wasn’t, I would drink garri and groundnuts. And why not? That was what the times called for. Pragmatism. No pain, no gain. It was my own contribution to the success of a policy that was bound to do our country good,” Femi Adesina.