Organised labour at the weekend blamed the rising exchange rates to Nigeria submitting to the International Monetary Fund-induced policies, warning that it would further distort and repress Nigeria’s currency.
Labour argued that embracing the policies would lead the nation to a situation where more than N600 would be exchanged for a US dollar.
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), at its fourth quardrennial delegates’ conference in Abuja, called on the Federal Government to rise up to the occasion to defend the naira through a well co-ordinated approach.
The immediate past president of the ASCSN who is equally the immediate past president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Bala Kaigama, said, with numerous sources of inflow of foreign currencies into the country, if well tapped and managed, Nigeria could shore up the value of the naira.
Kaigama lamented that the dire strait the country found itself in with regard to the value of the naira could best be addressed by financial wizardry, genius in economic statecraft, fiscal discipline, good savings habit, economic rebirth and transformation, which calls for curbing waste, profligacy and fastidious discipline.
“The exchange rate of N450 to a dollar is a criminal conspiracy against the Nigerian people. No meaningful development can take place under this outrageous exchange rate regime. Things cannot continue like this, else we are all doomed,” he said.
He said that the time had come to defend the naira, as allocation of every available dollar should be made to the productive sectors, especially the industrial sector.
According to him, Mexico’s inability to defend her currency against speculation caused the 1994 currency crisis and was a leading factor in the Asian financial crisis of 1997.
He noted that, ever since the naira suffered its first blow as a result of the IMF-inspired devaluation of the 1980s, the slide of the national currency against other major international currencies has grown worse by the day.
The labour leader said Nigeria has failed to live up to its billing as the giant of Africa in the currency warfare going on globally.
He said, “It is pertinent to note that the current model in which the naira exchange rate is merely a function of excess naira liquidity in a strictly regulated market where small rations of dollars are auctioned intermittently by the CBN is circumscribing growth and increasing the misery of our people.
“It is a veritable paradox that the more dollars we earn, the worse we are in terms of the exchange rate, as a weaker naira has triggered higher production costs, fuel inflation through increase in prices of almost everything you can think of and, ultimately, increase our national debt burden.”
Worried by the nation’s rising debt profile, Kaigama said, with so much borrowing, it seemed certain that the future economic outlook of the country is very bleak.
He advised government to develop a culture of saving for the rainy day, adding that, through that process, Nigeria would rely less on foreign loans.