President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that he is yet to be convinced that Nigeria and its people will derive any tangible benefit from an official devaluation of the Naira.
Speaking late Wednesday night in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, at an interactive meeting with Nigerians living in that country, President Buhari explained that while export-driven economies could benefit from devaluation of their currencies, devaluation will only result in further inflation and hardship for the poor and middle classes in Nigeria’s import-dependent economy.
He added that he had no intention of bringing further hardship on the country’s poor who, he said, have suffered enough already.
Likening devaluing the Naira to having it “killed”, President Buhari said that proponents of devaluation will have to work much harder to convince him that ordinary Nigerians will gain anything from it.
He 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”, President Buhari noted.
He 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”, President Buhari told the gathering.
The president reaffirmed his conviction that about a third of petroleum subsidy payments under the previous administration was bogus.
“They just stamped papers and collected our foreign exchange”, he said.
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 said that he was optimistic that the Nigerian economy will stabilize soon with the efficient implementation of measures and policies that have been introduced by his administration.