A former Nigerian minister of education has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to use a ‘market policy based on command and control’ foreign exchange led to the Nigerian currency losing its value.
Oby Ezekwesili, the leader of the Red Card Movement, was speaking on a Channels Television programme to commemorate the third anniversary of the Buhari government. She also blamed the current administration for plunging the economy into a needless downward spiral by not making “right economic policies” at the right time.
“The exchange policy regime that we have become accustomed to is transparent at all ends because it allows the market to do the adjustments,” Ezekwesili said on Monday. “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. But the spokesman of the Buhari campaign Festus Keyamo said the naira was already slipping before Buhari was sworn in May 2015.
“The naira had begun the downward slide and at the time they handed over, it was ₦225 to a dollar. So these are clear indices that there was something wrong and that we were headed to the bottom of a slope,” Keyamo said.
Keyamo also insisted that blaming President Buhari for the economic recession was political and absolved the current government of any wrongdoing. “Nobody should wake up because of political reasons and say that it was when this government came on board that we slipped into recession,” he said.
But Ezekwesili noted that the government dilly-dallied and did not also on take decisions at the right time. “Timing is everything in economic management,” 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 an election? You don’t need that.”
The government said last week in a document that it has reset the economy and stabilised the foreign exchange window. It also pointed to the development in the agriculture sector, which has seen Nigeria’s milled rice production increase by about 60 per cent, from 2.5 million metric tonnes in 2015, to 4 million MT in 2017, as part of its achievement.