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Forex: How ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar got it wrong again –Presidency

Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar

*The Federal Government says Atiku Abubakar’s alternative of a ‘controlled floatation of the Naira’ similar to the policy during the last leadership of Central Bank of Nigeria when estimated $1.5 billion was spent monthly to shore up the Naira, while arbitrage or round tripping went on unhindered is not acceptable

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of his latest remarks on the current economic challenges in Nigeria, the Federal Government has taken a swipe at former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for what the government has described as his “attempt to rubbish the Foreign Exchange policy of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration.”

Mr. Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, in a statement, said the government noted that Atiku, again, got his facts muddled up again.

The Presidency stated that the former Vice-President “failed to prescribe a better Policy Option to what Governor Olayemi Cardoso and his team are executing at the apex bank (CBN).”

Onanuga averred in the statement: “First of all, it was not true that President Tinubu’s meeting last Thursday with the 36 State Governors was centred on discussing Foreign Exchange crisis and currency fluctuation.

“What was discussed in the main was food supply and how to drastically reduce the food prices.”

He rather explained that Alhaji Mohammed Idris, Honourable Minister for Information and National Orientation, earlier had given a briefing about the meeting, revealing the highlights to State House Correspondents, in Abuja, FCT.

The Presidential aide also stated: “One was that the meeting established a nexus between the state of security and the rising cost of food.

“Another was that hoarders are warehousing food, creating artificial scarcity and thus enabling the high cost of food items.

“The decisions at the meeting reflected the main points discussed: Forest rangers are to be strengthened and armed, while police are to recruit more men and the National Economic Council to deepen discussions about creating state police.”

The statement noted President Tinubu, at the meeting, also affirmed his approval for the release of 42,000 Metric tonnes of grains from the national reserve.

Government is also in discussion with rice millers to get another 60,000 metric tonnes, said Onanuga.

The Special Adviser on Information and Strategy further stated Tinubu said that “he does not support price control and importation of food.” Nigeria can grow enough food to feed its citizens and spare some for export, according to the President.

Onanuga said: “The present government is executing the cultivation of 500,000 hectares for wheat, maize, and rice, in many states.

“Governors are expected to participate in this programme, one of the reasons for last Thursday’s meeting.

‘No deliberation on currency fluctuation’

The Federal Government as well clarified there was no deliberation, as former VP Atiku claimed, on currency fluctuation.

Onanuga noted: “As Alhaji Atiku should know, this is the business of the Central Bank, which has the autonomy to handle the country’s monetary policies.

“As a matter of fact, the President enjoined the governors, in passing, to allow the CBN do its work and refrain from dabbling into what is within CBN’s purview.

“If he would be true to himself and what actually transpired at the meeting, unlike the lies he spewed, we expected Alhaji Atiku to praise President Tinubu for maintaining this stance and for not interfering with the business of Central Bank.”

The government averred: “It is false and preposterous for Atiku to claim that CBN’s FX management policy was hurriedly put together without proper plans and consultations with stakeholders and that the apex bank is hamstrung by Tinubu’s government in implementing a sound FX Management Policy ‘that would have dealt with such issues as increasing liquidity, curtailing/regulating demand, dealing with FX backlogs and rate convergence.’ ”

According to Onanuga, contrary to former Vice President Atiku’s claim, Cardoso’s CBN is implementing a raft of policies to stabilise the Naira and end volatility in the market, and this is already yielding some positive results.

He explained further: “Capital importation into the country is increasing, according to the latest NBS report.

“In the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria recorded a 66.27 percent increase in capital inflow, compared with Q3, before Cardoso’s arrival at CBN.”

Onanuga stated: “In Q3, capital inflow was $654.65 million. It rose to $1.09 billion in Q4.

“Alhaji Atiku will agree that the rise in capital inflow suggests massive investors’ confidence in Nigeria and the policy direction of the Tinubu administration.”

Naira policy similar to Godwin Emefiele’s era not acceptable, says Presidency

Juxtaposed with the current policy options being implemented by the CBN, the Federal Government said Atiku’s alternative of a controlled floatation of the Naira is similar to the policy of Godwin Emefiele.

It stated that was when an estimated $1.5 billion was spent monthly to shore up the Naira, while arbitrage or round tripping went on unhindered.

“Sadly, it was perpetrated by people close to the corridors of powers,” added the Presidency.

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