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Solution to Dollar Scarcity: Be More Creative to Earn More, Presidency Urges Nigerians

Presidency Friday night urged Nigerians to be more creative in the face of the biting economic recession to attract more foreign exchange as a means of ending the Dollar scarcity in the country.

It also called for improved peace and tranquility in the Niger Delta region to boost the oil production which would in turn generate more returns in form of foreign earnings for the country.

This was even as it also stated that Nigeria’s involvement in The Gambia’s political impasse was not to intimidate the out-going President, Yahya Jammeh but by its action playing a leadership role.

The position of the presidency was made through the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu on “Politics Today”, a Programme of the Channels Television, monitored in Abuja.

Speaking against the background of a protest by some Nigerians in Abuja on Friday who called for immediate action to curb the disparity between Naira and US Dollar, Shehu said that but for some measures already taken by the government, the situation would have been worse than it is presently.

Notably, Naira is presently at its worse times, chasing the US Dollar at N500 per Dollar.

Shehu: “Unfortunately, I am not an expert in these matters but to my layman’s understanding, we have a Dollar crisis. Dollar inflow into Nigeria is short. Whatever that is short in terms of supply creates demand in high proportions. This Nigeria would have faired worse with the Dollar is government has not been taken quite a number of measures including the restriction of our scares foreign exchanges to sectors that are very critical, that create jobs that generate income to the country.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN had already dismissed those protests. In a system, no matter how rotten it is, it produces beneficiaries. People are happy with the older order, when people will go, take US Dollar form the CBN, go to the Bureau De Change. Now, CBN doesn’t sell Dollars. It is the commercial banks that sell.

“What I think needs to be done is that beyond the government, all of us as Nigerians have a responsibility. What do we do? Let’s us be more creative, try to export more, try to produce local goods that sell abroad, so that more Dollars would come. Let’s us continue to stabilize the ongoing situation in the Niger Delta so that earnings from the oil sector are not disrupted. When we have more Dollars coming in, they will sell cheaper.”

While dismissing criticisms against indiscriminate amounts Dollar is sold at official rate by the CBN, Shehu maintained that people with patience could still obtain the currency at cheaper rates.

“Accusations will always be made. However, let me to you that the items excluded from that exchange rate are limited to only 41 items. A lot of manufacturing, raw materials, consultancy, school fees and hospitals; they are still obtainable on that charge for people who are prepared to queue. A lot of people are benefiting”, he said.

On the Gambian political crisis, the Presidential spokesman said that though the presidency was still awaiting the official outcome of the mediation led by President Buhari as the Chief Mediator of ECOWAS in the matter, hopes were high that the matter would be amicably resolved between outing President Jammeh and the President-Elect, Adama Barrow.

“The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, his plane has just taken off to the next destination which Bamako in Mali. He and other leaders have finished their own round of discussion with the Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh. As I speak to you this minute, two other West African leaders and a few foreign Ministers are locked in a final round of meeting with the President-Elect, Adama Barrow.

“What is the outcome of the dicussion between our leaders and Jammeh and Barrow, I don’t have the answer. We are waiting to be briefed on the outcome of the meetings.

“What is Nigeria’s interest in all of these things? Nigeria is West Africa’s leader. It is a leader on the continent and when you consider that they chose Nigeria to lead in the mediation.

“Clearly, it is a leadership role. If there is a problem in the sub-region, Nigerian would perhaps be left alone to resolve it. You know, we had done that in Liberia, Serrie-Leone, many other countries at huge expense to national treasury. So, we wouldn’t want the situation in The Gambia to get out of hand because that will mean a cost to us, Nigeria whether in terms of money or even human lives.

“Do we have the weight to play around these matters? The sense we have is that maybe, Gambia has a size of may be, 1900 troops armed forces with a population of about 1.5 million. I am sure that you will find more people in Ikeja Local Government.

“But I think the idea if not for Nigeria to intimidate or threaten anyone. Diplomacy will work. We believe that the outgoing president must love his country and people. We believe he will act in their best interest in the circumstance”, Shehu said.

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