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Ditch The Dollar To Solve Nigeria’s Economic Crisis- Sen Ned Nwoko

First Bank Nigeria


Exclusive by Milton Tella

– The Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Distinguished Senator Ned Nwoko, spoke exclusively to AfricanVoice, Britain’s N0.1 African Newspaper

He shares his views on the widespread lamentations over the acute hunger in the land, the bad shape of the economy and the free fall of the Naira against foreign currencies, amid unbearable exchange rates in the country, among other issues.

The Senator, while focusing on the immediate steps to arrest the lingering issues bedevilling the country said, the government needs to address the real issues, take drastic action and focus on the initiatives that will positively turn around the current socio-economic challenges in the country. “Most countries in the world do not have the privilege of using local currency and foreign currency at the same time. No economy in this world will do well if you have this dual currency. The first thing we must do to arrest the bad economic situation, as drastic as it might sound, is to abolish the use of dollars in Nigeria. Once that is done, we will begin to see the Naira appreciating against the dollars. When you halt the use of dollars in Nigeria, it means that the expertiate workers in Nigeria who are being paid in dollars will be paid in Naira.

“We have no regard for our Naira. The President needs the courage and political will to get that done. Use of dollars is part of our neocolonial bondage.

The Senator who is a member of more than 16 important senate Committees said that, “We should be able to promote our local currency”.

The erudite Senator, while proffering further solutions to the challenges in the nation’s economy also stressed that it will help if oil in Nigeria is being sold in Naira. He said this will add more fiscal strength to the Nigerian’s local currency, the Naira.

He pointed out that the use of dollars in Nigeria comes with a lot of fraudulent practices such as round-tripping, as well as illegal buying and selling of the US dollars, which is one of the biggest businesses in the country.

He said to control our economy, we must stop the use of dollars, we must encourage local production and manufacturing.

He expressed the need for Nigerians to respect the Naira. He also said it is an abomination to have our currency reserve domiciled in a foreign nation, in the name of balance of payments, otherwise known as foreign reserve. This money is deposited in banks in America or other foreign countries which those foreign countries are using to run their economies.
“That is why America and the UK have large economies today because of these deposits”.

The Senator who is also the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment said, it is time we looked inward and see what we have to do as a people.

He added, “I know that the President of Nigeria might be apprehensive about breaking ties with America but it is not about America, this is about his people, it is about Nigeria and Nigerians. It is about leaving a legacy that during his time, this was what he did to save and promote the Naira”. He said, if he had the opportunity of becoming the president of Nigeria, the first thing he will do is to get African countries to come together and have a common currency like the Euro € in europe, as we have everything we need in Africa.

He said: “We don’t need to import anything, we have all the natural and human resources. We should fund our African businessmen to manufacture and produce.

“You imagine if we bring back our foreign reserve domiciled in America to Nigerian banks. Then say we use the money to empower 5 million youth entrepreneurs. Because our youths are very creative and innovative”.

Emphasizing the need to take advantage of the creativity of Nigerian youths, he said, “Today, virtually all our youths are either IT compliant or engaged in one small medium scale business or the other. Our youths are very good. So give that money to them by way of grants or loans that is not more than 4%.

“You tell me why the government should put a ceiling on lending rates every year while the banks are making huge profits to the detriment of the consumers. They are not thinking about the people. If you think about the people, the first thing the government should do is to call the banks and implore them not to lend beyond 3 to 4%, so that people can borrow. If you don’t have a credit economy, how can you improve on your economy?. No borrowing to buy cars, no borrowing to buy houses, no borrowing to go on holidays, how can they live? So people will end up stealing, lying and cheating to raise money. So there are many problems that need to be addressed”.

While advocating a strategic approach to our very expensive system of government, the Delta State Senator noted that Nigeria as a country needs to go back to parliamentary system of government and jettison this expensive presidential system of government, in which case the political party with the highest number of members in the parliament will choose the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister will be there in the parliament with other members who are from amongst them.

“The current presidential system in Nigeria is too costly and not suitable for us. That is where the corruption starts. From the delegates system where so much money is spent bribing people to support you. And from the local to the state and to the national.

“It is too cumbersome and expensive and president are too isolated from the people and the Lawmakers. But if you have a Prime Minister like you have in the UK, there will be a Prime Minister’s question every week. The Prime Minister will always be there in the parliament to find solutions not like what is happening now.

“The state governors are the worst. They receive so much money and do so little. Local government should work, they should be in charge of security and in charge of roads, health, education, that is the government closest to the people in the grassroots level. That’s not what you have in Nigeria today. Local government system has been killed by governors. We need to involve the royal fathers in governance. We need people that will work with the grassroots. The people at the grassroots have been neglected, they are on their own. Once the election is done everybody is on his/her own. We need to review that to see how we can become a better nation.”

Senator Nwoko specifically frowns at the idea of giving palliatives to people all the time. He said, “How many people are you going to be dashing money.

In Nigeria, we have no data. We have no data of who the criminals are, who the disabled or those who are unemployed, so we must have a database for everybody. When you have a database of unemployed and vulnerable, then we have records to work with at the click of a button. So we can put them on social security payments every month, until they are able to get a job, but asking a company to go and verify who is who, and who is not is totally wrong.”

His Bill ‘Self defence and firearm ownership regulation act’ which gained national interest in January this year, will shortly be read the second time on the floor of the red chamber.

Throwing more light on the legislative Bill, the proactive Senator called for the introduction of a Bill that allows civilians to own and carry firearms as a solution to the mounting security challenges in the country today.

He said: “We have come to a point in Nigeria where we must call a spade a spade. I speak the minds of the masses of this country. We should support a dialogue as a way out of these killings happening everywhere in the country instead of spending so much money every year, spending millions of dollars in buying war planes, buying drones and nothing has changed despite this huge expenses every year. So I support a dialogue to be hosted by the National Assembly. We know some of the people causing this trouble might be frustrated and feel marginalised and alienated. When I say why don’t we have a platform to talk and dialogue. We just need to get more Senators and House of Representatives members to speak out on the anomalies without thinking of their personal benefits. We must think as a people who wants to make a difference in Nigeria.”

Tackling the escalating costs of items associated with the sudden removal of subsidy in the country, the Senator added, “Throwing more money into the system or opening the reserves of food to allow more maize to be sold cannot be the solution. Because prices of consumables and non-comsumables are rising everyday. Rice, petrol, and cement are rising everyday, so I think that the first thing that we need to do, is to immediately ban the importation of any foreign goods. If the farmers can not go to farm due to insecurity then we won’t have bountiful harvest”.

“We need to increase the numbers of policemen and other security agents. I will personally recommend that we recruit 300,000 policemen who are equipped to patrol the localities. Like we have in the UK and America patrolling all the localities. We need to start thinking as a global nation”.
He said: “To really turn things around, I’m afraid the President will need to choose between the unknown powerful forces holding the nation’s jugular and the innocent Nigerians, it is as simple as that.

“We must do away with vestiges of neocolonialism. We must control our own economy. Nigeria is not a small country. International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank will never tell America or the UK what to do? Why do they dictate to us every now and then? Does America have any foreign reserve anywhere? So why would Africa be compelled to have foreign reserves. If I was the president, I would not bother about the IMF or the World Bank, because I would not take any loans from them. I’m sure you know how I encouraged former president Olusegun Obasanjo to exit from the foreign loans. The so-called Paris club. Obasanjo listened to me. By the time I finished my presentation, they were convinced and so we exited.

And refunds were made to every state in Nigeria. We must be courageous in dealing with the challenges people are facing at the moment.”

He said, “For example, why should an increase in exchange rate of dollars be a problem for someone selling gari in my village?”

The dichotomy of Naira and dollars should stop. Remember many people are hoarding dollars in their gardens or walls.”

“We need to address some of these issues but it will take guts of Mr. President to get it done.”

Senator Ned Nwoko was interviewed on the Africa Arise platform of AfricanVoice by the trio of Mike Abiola Editor in Chief, Olakunle Agboola Editor At Large and
Bunmi Omoogun Abuja, Nigeria correspondent.

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