Naira’s Free Fall: It’s Time to Control the Markets, Says Olawepo-Hashim

Naira’s Free Fall: It’s Time to Control the Markets, Says Olawepo-Hashim

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

A former presidential candidate and a Chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has counselled that the time has come for the federal government to dump the free float of the Naira in exchange to other currencies.

He advised that the country should opt for the “Nigerian traditional managed float and allocate Nigeria’s forex and domestic resource for nation’s economic and national priorities.”

For some time now, especially since the “floating” of the exchange rate by the current regime, the jet speed with which the nation’s currency has been depreciating has migrated to a worrisome lightening speed, pushing the rate to about N1,900 to one United States Dollar today, he said.

In a statement released by his media office in Abuja on yesterday, Olawepo-Hashim explained that it would be delusional to manage Nigeria’s foreign exchange regime with the expectation that the market would correct itself when the Nigeria market is controlled by different criminal gangs.

“It is also time for real Central Bankers to assume control of the Central Bank rather than commercial bankers and even elements at the fringes of commercial banking who have hijacked the management of our monetary policies in the past two decades,” he noted.

According to him, not a few Nigerians have been alarmed at the  sudden emergence of the banks and their chief executives as foreign exchange speculators.
He added that allegations are rife that most of the banks have perfected the acts of warehousing large volumes of foreign currencies with a view to trading with them at higher rates.

Olawepo-Hashim therefore argued that “no serious nation in the world would continue to manage its affairs on the basis of failed recommendations by officials of Bretton Woods institutions who have consistently misadvised Nigeria to continuously devalue its currency for about 38 years.”
He said: “My generation stoutly resisted these package in the great anti-SAP revolts of 1989. The present variant of the market allocation is the most extreme ever experienced which is seeing naira exchange at N1,900 to a dollar compared to N8 to a dollar which we resisted fiercely in 1989.”

He also maintained that having removed subsidy on petroleum products with all the very hard consequences, it is bad economic planning to allow naira to go on the free fall.

He argued that devaluation would continuously erode any fiscal gain of subsidy removal necessitating another round of subsidy and subsidy removal which the economy at 32 per cent inflation cannot absorb.

Olawepo-Hashim also emphasised that the much sought after investors, whether local or foreign would be hard to find in a season of currency volatility and high inflation eroding purchasing power of consumers.
He therefore called for an urgent need to stabilise the economy and tame volatility through “common sense economics.”

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