President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed the recent decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria not to devalue the Naira, declaring that he was not yet convinced that Nigeria and its people will derive any tangible benefit from an official devaluation of the nation’s currency.
A statement issued on Thursday by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu reports that Buhari stated this at an interactive session with Nigerians living in Kenya late on Wednesday.
He noted that while export-driven economies could benefit from a devaluation of their currencies, the case will be different in import-dependent economies like Nigeria as devaluation will only result in further inflation and hardship for the poor and middle classes.
The President added that he had no intention of bringing further hardship on the country’s poor who, he said, have already suffered enough.
While likening a devaluation of the Naira to having it “killed”, Buhari stated that proponents of devaluation will have to work much harder to convince him that ordinary Nigerians will gain anything from it.
The President also rejected suggestions that the Central Bank of Nigeria should resume the sale of foreign exchange to Bureaux de Change (BDCs), saying that the Bureau de Change business had become a scam and a drain on the economy.
“We had just 74 of the bureaux in 2005, now they have grown to about 2,800,” he stated.
Buhari alleged that some bank and government officials used surrogates to run the BDCs and prosper at public expense by obtaining foreign exchange from government at official rates and selling it at much higher rates.
“We will use our foreign exchange for industry, spare parts and the development of needed infrastructure.
“We don’t have the Dollars to give to the BDCs. Let them go and get it from wherever they can, other than the Central Bank,” he said.
The President reaffirmed his conviction that about a third of petroleum subsidy payments under the previous administration was bogus, stressing that “They just stamped papers and collected our foreign exchange.”
The President appealed to Nigerians studying abroad to bear with his administration as it strives to address the challenges they are facing as a result of new foreign exchange measures.
He expressed optimism that with an efficient implementation of measures and policies that have been introduced by his administration, the Nigerian economy will soon stabilize.