President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared that Nigerians who have an incurable taste for foreign commodities should stop pressuring him to devalue the Naira, which is hovering at N400 to the dollar in the black market.
He spoke at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt while contributing to a Presidential Panel Roundtable on Investment and Growth Opportunities at the opening session of the Africa 2016: Business for Africa, Egypt and the World.
Reiterating his opposition to the devaluation of the nation’s currency, the president stressed that those who have developed taste for foreign luxury goods should continue to pay for them rather than pressure government to devalue the Naira.
He explained that Nigeria could not compete with developed countries which produce to compete among themselves and can afford to devalue their local currencies.
According to him, “developed countries are competing among themselves and when they devalue they compete better and manufacture and export more.
“But we are not competing and exporting but importing everything including toothpicks. So, why should we devalue our currency?
“We want to be more productive and self-sufficient in food and other basic things such as clothing. For our government, we like to encourage local production and efficiency.”
Buhari said the priority of his administration is to ensure national food security before export of food products. “The land is there and we need machinery inputs, fertilizer and insecticides,” he said.
He explained that since Nigeria has been a mono-economy dependent on oil, and with a teeming unemployed youth population, the way out of the current economic slump in the global oil market is for his administration to focus on agriculture and solid minerals development.
The President also blamed the huge resources deployed towards fighting insurgency and international terrorism as one of the major factors militating against Nigeria’s economic revival.
He however, expressed optimism that Nigeria would get out of its current economic downturn, and commended the support being received from the international community in the administration’s fight against terrorism as well as cooperation in tracing looted funds stashed away in foreign countries.
Responding to a question on his performance since he assumed office, the President said his administration had been quite focused on three fundamental issues of securing the country, reviving the economy and stamping out corruption.
“The message on corruption has been driven home vividly and Nigerians are very acceptable to the message,” he said, adding that those accused of stealing public funds are cooperating by voluntarily providing useful information while investigations and prosecutions are ongoing.
In his opening address at the forum, the Egyptian President, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, said Africa needed to concentrate on transforming into knowledge societies using innovation and research.
The Presidents of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia also participated at the Roundtable.