28 May 2018

Nigeria: Buhari 'Murdered' the Naira - Ezekwesili

Former Minister of Education, and now leader of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, Oby Ezekwesili, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of "murdering" the naira.

She also accused the president of delayed decision making particulary in matters regarding the nation's economy.

She made this statement while speaking on a programme on Channels Television on Monday.

Ms Ezekwesili, who is also leads the Red Card Movement, was analysing the economic achievements of the Buhari-led administration over the last three years.

The assessment of the nation's economy is in commemoration of Nigeria's Democracy Day, May 29.

The Buhari-led administration will be three years old tomorrow.

Last Friday, the presidency, in a document made available to PREMIUM TIMES scored Mr Buhari's government high on economy, infrastructure, investment in people, among others.

"Timing is everything in economic management," Mrs Ezekwesili said.

"A decision making that is timely determines what all the other participants in the economy will do. If you lost time, you cannot in anyway, say it didn't matter. If the bureaucracy is all you need in order to run the economy, then why have political change through election? You don't need that."

She said the Buhari-led government took Nigerians to the dark ages of foreign exchange policy regime.

"The exchange policy regime that we have become accustomed to is transparent at all ends because it allows the market to do the adjustments. The president decided to do an exchange policy that took us to the era of import license, a market policy based on command and control.

"By doing so, the president, who said he didn't want to murder the Naira, ended up murdering the Naira by becoming almost the CBN governor," she said.

"If you had allowed the market to work, the supply side would have responded. What this government did is to manage the demand side issues with many administrative rules that therefore gave opportunity for the massive corruption that happened in this economy. The exchange policy entrenched corruption and that is not good for productivity."

Mrs Ezekwesili's statement was sequel to what Mr Buhari's campaign spokesman, Festus Keyamo, said about recession.

Mr Keyamo earlier said that in 2008, recession was averted because Nigeria had a strong foreign reserve when former President, Olusegun Obasanjo left office.

"We couldn't avert it now because at that point, our foreign reserve was (depleted)," he said.

He had also defended the president's delayed appointments of ministers by saying "the ministries function without ministers. That's the truth. I have not seen anywhere in the world where you say the pertinent (programmes) of government do not function with the normal bureaucratic setup.

"Buhari's failure to appoint ministers on time did not in any way affect the economy of the country. Ministers are political heads of bureaucracies and the facts that you don't appoint the heads of the bureaucracies doesn't mean they don't function," he claimed.

He further made reference to a World Bank report in 2017 which said Nigeria was one of the best 10 performing economies in the world.

"At the end of the day, what matters is the result you get from the monetary policy," he said.

Mrs Ezekwesili, however, blamed the president for not averting recession when it was inevitable.

"At the time that they could have averted, recession was not inevitable. But if you did the right economic policy at that time, you would have averted the recession. Many other oil producing and exporting countries managed to avert recession.

"We might be out of it now but it had a huge effect on populace. When you have the kind of shock that the combination of oil price collapse and poor economic response to it occasioned, you would have dropped manhy more of your citizens into poverty. The last data of poverty rate from NBS is about 60 per cent.

"What the problem is, is that usually when you have such kind of collapse, you adjust, you adjust as an economic policy approach, in order not to get you to the deep end that we eventually found ourselves," she said.

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