Muhammadu Buhari has said that the naira was strong against major foreign currencies when he was military head of state as he resisted pressure to devalue it.
Speaking at a meeting with members of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries led by Otunba Christopher Tugbobo, at the Presidential Villa, on Friday, he observed that the naira was eventually devalued when he was toppled in 1984 after 20 months in office.
He insisted that he was yet to be convinced that the vast majority of ordinary Nigerians will derive any tangible benefit from a devaluation of the naira.
A statement issued by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, after the meeting said Buhari explained that he still held the conviction which motivated his principled resistance to devaluation in his first tenure as Head of State. He said: “When I was military Head of State, the IMF and the World Bank wanted us to 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.”
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 revitalising the national economy.
He added: “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 statement recalled that 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. Chief Philip Asiodu, the Pioneer Chairman of the Council, said that its members want the present Administration to succeed because Nigeria has 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,” Asiodu said.