Naira devaluation: Nigerians divided over Buhari’s stance – Punch

Tobi Aworinde

President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence not to devalue the naira has caused a heated debate among Nigerians online.

Buhari, speaking at a meeting of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries at the Presidential Villa on Friday, had reiterated his stance, arguing that those canvassing for the naira devaluation had yet to convince him of the inherent benefits for ordinary Nigerians.

He said, despite the clamour, he would stand by the position he took against devaluation during his tenure as military Head of State.

Buhari was quoted as saying, “When I was military Head of State, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank wanted us to devalue the naira and remove petrol subsidy but I stood my grounds for the good of Nigeria.

“The naira remained strong against the dollar and other foreign currencies until I was removed from office in August, 1985 and it was devalued.

“But how many factories were built and how many jobs were created by the devaluation? That is why I’m still asking to be convinced today on the benefits of devaluation.”

But the President’s unwavering position drew the ire of some Nigerians on social media.

Commenting on the PUNCH website, Ola wrote, “The government needs to face the reality of the situation. The dollar, at the official rate of N197, is scarce and most manufacturers and importers are unable to access the official market and, therefore, source from the black market at a devalued rate of around N320.

“Businesses have already repriced their products/services with the black market rate and inflation has now reached double digits. A select few are benefiting from the unusually wide gap between official and black market (rates).

“Government should stop the denial game about the exchange rate crisis. The economic team should be more solution focused with proactive policy directions and be bold enough to acknowledge the situation and give the president the right advice and options.”

Another Nigerian, Izonkeme, wrote, “Nigerians are wailing and crying on a daily basis. Parents can’t afford school fees of university students as result students are being chased out from exams, leading to riots and subsequent death of some brilliant students.

“Yet, he is comparing his days of 1983 to this present day, when the world is in the jet age. His singular reason for not wanting to devalue the naira has gone beyond every reasonable doubt that of a truth he lacks the foresight to take Nigeria to the next level. God will salvage us from this man with necrotised ideologies.”

EarthVoice, also expressed frustration, saying, “A bag of pure water is sold at N200. A litre of petrol that was N86 is now sold at N250, The dollar that was N150 is now N350. Is there any other devaluation that those calling to devalue the naira want? The naira has automatically been devalued.”

Similarly, Mosley argued that the naira had naturally been devalued.

The user wrote, “The government should now formulate policy to revalue it; that should be the concern and challenge of Mr. President. Because to say the naira will not be devalued is like flogging a dead horse. The naira has devalued itself, full stop.”

On Facebook, Eberechukwu Ekwenta also said, “With inflation at 12.5 per cent, already naira has devalued itself. The naira is now competing with the Zimbabwean dollars. APC, shame.”

Opeyemi Onifade also said, “The naira is already devalued. I think formalising the devaluation of the naira is imperative. The naira shouldn’t be valued at 190 and 305 simultaneously in the same economy.”

Gerald Essien, noted that though the President had refrained from blaming the previous administration, he should stop calling to mind the unpleasant history of Nigerians.

He added, “Our beloved President, please get to work and don’t remind us of how bad it started when there isn’t any hope of getting better yet.”

Similarly, Mac Henry Anonde wrote, “Make it strong again and forget blaming the past government.”

Another Facebook user, Ememobong Udom, wrote, “Big lie! It was during your time that the naira got devalued due to your poor economic policies.”

Chinedu Iwuagwu also said, “The naira was at 200 against the dollar and 320 against CFA1,000 before Buhari got to the office. Now, it is between N320 and N330 to $1. This man lacks knowledge and is too old to cope with the stress of governance.

“He refused to delegate to experienced and more intelligent people. How does he expect naira to appreciate?”

However, some Nigerians supported the President’s stance.

Dr. Emmanuel Nwusulor, commenting on Facebook, wrote, “A welcome development.”

Leonard Obi also said, “Mr. President, you are saying the truth.”

Yusuf Umaru, added, “The World Bank and IMF had their way easily with Ibrahim Babangida and (Olusegun) Obasanjo, in collaboration with their Nigerian conspirators, to milk us and keep us down as an underdeveloped and a beggar nation.”

Similarly, Friday Ahmed Sule wrote, “Trustworthy and reliable President Buhari, I will forever engrave you in my heart. Keep focus and continue the generational fight against corruption. God will envelope you and your family with love and protection.”