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Atiku Muddled Up Facts To Rubbish Tinubu’s FX Policy, Says Onanuga

“There was no deliberation, as former VP Atiku claimed, on currency fluctuation.”

Nigeria’s presidency, on Sunday, has faulted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, saying he muddled up his facts in an attempt to rubbish the foreign exchange policy of the Tinubu administration.

Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, delivered the rebuke in a statement.

Onanuga said Atiku also failed to prescribe a better policy option to what the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, and his team were executing at the apex bank. He refuted Atiku’s insinuation that the crux of the meeting held last week between Tinubu and the 36 states governors was the foreign exchange crisis and currency fluctuation.

Rather, Onanuga said the discussion centred on food supply and how to drastically reduce food prices. He added that the meeting established a nexus between the state of security and the rising cost of food, while it was observed that hoarders were warehousing food, creating artificial scarcity leading to high cost of food items.

The statement said, “The decisions at the meeting reflected the main points discussed: forest rangers are to be strengthened and armed, while police are to recruit more men and the National Economic Council to deepen discussions about creating state police.

“President Tinubu also affirmed his approval for the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains from the national reserve.

Government is also in discussion with rice millers to get another 60,000 metric tonnes.

“President Tinubu said he does not support price control and importation of food. Nigeria, he believes, can grow enough food to feed its citizens and spare some for export.

“There was no deliberation, as former VP Atiku claimed, on currency fluctuation. As Alhaji Atiku should know, this is the business of the central bank, which has the autonomy to handle the country’s monetary policies.

“As a matter of fact, the president enjoined the governors, in passing, to allow the CBN do its work and refrain from dabbling into what is within CBN’s purview.

“If he would be true to himself and what actually transpired at the meeting, unlike the lies he spewed, we expected Alhaji Atiku to praise President Tinubu for maintaining this stance and for not interfering with the business of central bank.”

Onanuga also said it was false and preposterous for Atiku to claim that CBN’s forex management policy was hurriedly put together without proper plans and consultation with stakeholders, and that the apex bank was hamstrung by the Tinubu government in implementing a sound fx management policy.

He said, “That would have dealt with such issues as increasing liquidity, curtailing/regulating demand, dealing with FX backlogs and rate convergence.”

Onanuga stressed that contrary to Atiku’s claim, the CBN was also implementing a raft of policies to stabilise the naira and end volatility in the market, and explained that the intervention was already yielding positive results.

Onanuga added, “Capital importation into the country is increasing, according to the latest NBS report. In the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria recorded a 66.27 per cent increase in capital inflow, compared with Q3, before Cardoso’s arrival at CBN. In Q3, capital inflow was $654.65 million. It rose to $1.09 billion in Q4.

“Alhaji Atiku will agree that the rise in capital inflow suggests massive investors’ confidence in Nigeria and the policy direction of the Tinubu administration.”

The presidential spokesman stated that when juggled with the policy options being implemented by the CBN, Atiku’s alternative of a controlled floatation of the naira was similar to the policy of former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele.

Onanuga explained that this was the time an estimated $1.5 billion was spent monthly to defend the naira, while arbitrage or round tripping perpetrated by people close to the corridors of power went on unhindered.

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