President Muhammadu Buahri on Friday said Nigeria’s currency, naira, was strong during his military regime but lost value after his removal from office in 1985.
Speaking at a meeting with members of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries, Mr. Buhari said he resisted the pressure from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to devalue the currency and remove fuel subsidy.
He insisted that he was yet to be convinced that the vast majority of ordinary Nigerians would derive any tangible benefit from a devaluation of the naira.
The president said he still held the conviction that motivated his principled resistance to devaluation in his first tenure as Head of State.
“When I was military Head of State, the IMF and the World Bank wanted us 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,” Mr. Buhari told the retired Permanent Secretaries led by Christopher Tugbobo.
Mr. Buhari welcomed the council’s pledge of support for the successful implementation of his administration’s change agenda, especially in the priority areas of improving security, curbing corruption and revitalizing the nation’s economy.
“I am glad you have rightly identified the key issues we campaigned on.
“We need a dynamic bureaucracy, which will not mislead us into taking wrong decisions,” the president said.
The Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries was established in 2004 to serve as a platform for retired permanent secretaries to offer constructive advice to government on key policy issues.
Philip Asiodu, the pioneer chairman of the council, said its members want the present administration to succeed because Nigeria had already lost many opportunities for progress.
“We are non-partisan. The interest of Nigeria is paramount to us and we are anxious that you should succeed,” Mr. Asiodu told the president.