President Muhammadu Buhari has again rejected calls for the official devaluation of naira, saying he was yet to be convinced that the country and its people will derive any tangible benefit from such exercise.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, on Thursday quoted the President as speaking at a meeting he had with Nigerians living in Kenya late on Wednesday.
Buhari who is currently on a three-day state visit to the country was said to have maintained 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 said he had no intention of bringing further hardship on the country’s poor who, he said, have suffered enough already.
He likened further devaluation of naira to having the currency “killed.”
Buhari added that proponents of devaluation must work 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, 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 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,” 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 stabilise soon with the efficient implementation of measures and policies that have been introduced by his administration.