President Muhammadu Buhari says he is still opposed to the devaluation of the naira — despite the removal of the official peg by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He was speaking in Abuja on Monday evening at the breaking of the Ramadan fast with the business community.
Buhari has consistently spoken against devaluation, but the CBN recently removed the official peg of N197-N200/$1 after 16 months, with the national currency already exchanging for over N370 in the parallel market.
It is now N282/$1 in the official interbank market, while the parallel market rate has been coming down gradually, although it suffered a setback on Monday.
The president has maintained again that he does not see any benefit that the country can derive from devaluation.
“In August 1985 (when he was overthrown in a military coup), the naira was N1.30 to a dollar but now you need N300 or N350 to a dollar. What do we derive from that? How much benefit can we derive from this ruthless devaluation of the naira? I’m not an economist neither a businessman, I fail to appreciate the economic explanation,” he said.
“What has happenned to us now is that we have maneuvered ourselves into mono economy which led to the collapse we are seeing now.”
Buhari had in February, in Egypt, said he was not in support of devaluation of the naira, insisting that Nigeria, which is not an exporting nation, would be worst hit if the currency was devalued.
Also in March, in Kenya, while addressing Nigerian community, he said he would not kill the naira.
The president told the business community at the breaking of fast that the responsibility was on their shoulders to help get the economy out of the woods.
He said: “A lot of responsibilities now fall on your shoulders. You have a lot of investments, a lot of people you employ.”
Buhari said as part of plans to diversify the economy, 13 states have been identified for rice production “to feed the nation in 18 months”.
Giving a vote of thanks on behalf of the group, chairman of Unilever, Kola Jamodu, pledged the support of the group to Buhari’s administration on the economy.
He said: “We are with you as you strive to reposition the Nigerian economy. We are very much in support of your move to diversify the economy.
“I have the mandate of the group that we will give you all the support because if the economy is in disarray, the private sector cannot survive.”
Among those who attended the dinner are Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Femi Otedola, Wale Tinubu, Jim Ovia, Umar Mutalab, Folorunsho Alakija and Kemi Nelson.