By Fatima Muraina, Sade Adewale,
Francis Akinnodi, Babatunde Ayedoju
& Emmanuel Oluwadola
The value of the Naira against the US dollar will continue to fall abysmally until Nigeria’s comatose refineries, agricultural and manufacturing sectors come back alive, economic experts have warned.
According to the experts, the turbulent forex was affecting petrol price and many other things in the country because Nigeria does not produce to earn dollar that would help the Naira become strong.
They noted that the damage done to Nigeria’s economy was much and that subsidy removal is not enough to put the nation’s wobbling economy back on track.
Recently, Naira continued its downward trend after exchanging to a dollar at N980 on the parallel market, leading to rise in petrol price.
In separate interviews with The Hope, the experts affirmed that it would be difficult for the Naira to maintain a balance at the forex without the nation having functional refineries and very productive agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
Former Accountant General of the Federation, Dr James Kayode Naiyeju, said the country needs intimidating economic measures to bring about diversification and dynamism in the nation’s economy.
Naiyeju regretted that Nigeria is also not doing enough to develop its agriculture sector which he described as the bedrock of industrialisation.
He, however, blamed insecurity, but urged the government to urgently put measures in place that could encourage the people to go back to farm.
Naiyeju said Nigeria also needs inflow of investments, particularly in the oil sector, which he said the president is just doing by opening more avenues for investments.
He said if investors come in and build more refineries, it will improve foreign exchange earnings, reduce importation, push up our reserve and make the Naira stronger.
A former chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ondo, Mr Thompson Adeyemi, said that Nigeria’s primary source of revenue, crude oil, has been poorly managed by successive governments to the extent that why other oil-producing countries can boast of many refineries and exporting refined product to other countries, Nigeria, unfortunately, cannot boast of a single functional refinery.
Akinyemi said it is shameful that Nigeria still import refined oil (pms) which contributed to the abysmal fall in the value of the Naira against the dollar.
According to him, Nigeria does not produce to earn dollar and we still use the same dollar to import refined petroleum, so why will Naira not continue to fall against the dollar?, he queried.
Former Majority Leader of Ondo State House of Assembly, Ifedayo Akinsoyinu said Nigeria current swapping of crude oil for loans repayment is a devastating blow to the nation’s economy because our creditors will always dictate the terms. In that situation, the debtor has no choice since we are desperate to be free from debt.
According to him, “Dangote is now importing crude oil for his refinery. We must acknowledge the fact that Dangote is a businessman. His decision to import crude oil for his refinery could be borne out of comparative advantage.”
He said that the issue of fuel price is less important to the masses than the prohibitive prices of foodstuffs and the scarcity of money in the pockets of individuals.
“Even if fuel sells for N1000 per litre, but a bag of rice sells for N10,000, a bag of cement N1000, and a bag of garri N5000, the masses will indeed celebrate”
Senior Special Assistant to the Ondo State Governor on Agric and Agric Business, Pastor Akin Olotu, stressed the need to add value to the naira by refining crude oil locally.
He stressed the need for incentives for local investors establishing refineries.
Olotu noted that the dollar-naira rate will not come down until Nigeria begins to produce and stop importation.
According to him, there should be rural transformation and provision of renewable energy for increased production and take security as a key.
He urged people not to blame the present administration because it is what it inherited but would restructure Nigeria.
A financial consultant, Dr Taiwo Owoeye urged the Federal Government to be transparent and accountable, saying that “we must build a democracy centred on public trust and accountability.”