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Presidency denies Atiku's claims on economy, cautions against negative assumptions

Onanuga added that contrary to what Atiku claimed, there was no deliberation on currency fluctuation at the meeting.

Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar. (Channels TV)

Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, stated this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja. He said that the claims by Atiku on the decisions taken at the last meeting between President Bola Tinubu and the state governors were misconstrued and not a true representation of what transpired.

Onanuga said that the PDP presidential candidate also failed to prescribe a better policy option to what the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, and his team are executing at the apex bank.

First of all, it was not true that President Tinubu’s meeting last Thursday with the 36 State Governors was centred on discussing the foreign exchange crisis and currency fluctuation.

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“What was discussed in the main was food supply and how to drastically reduce the food prices.

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, gave a briefing about the meeting, revealing the highlights to State House Correspondents,” he said.

Onanuga said that the meeting established a nexus between the state of security and the rising cost of food as well as how hoarders are warehousing food, creating artificial scarcity and creating high costs of food items.

He explained that the meeting dwelled on how the Forest Rangers are to be strengthened and armed, while police are to recruit more men and the National Economic Council to deepen discussions about creating state police.

In resolving the food crisis, Onanuga said the President also affirmed at the meeting his approval for the release of 42,000 Metric tonnes of grains from the national reserve. He said that the government was in discussion with rice millers to get another 60,000 metric tonnes of grains to be released to citizens.

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President Tinubu said he does not support price control and importation of food. Nigeria, he believes, can grow enough food to feed its citizens and spare some for export.

“The present government is executing the cultivation of 500,000 hectares for wheat, maize, and rice in many states. Governors are expected to participate in this programme, one of the reasons for last Thursday’s meeting.”

He said that contrary to what Atiku claimed, there was no deliberation on currency fluctuation at the meeting. The Presidential aide said such decisions are within the purview of the Central Bank, which has the autonomy to handle the country’s monetary policies.

The President enjoined the governors, in passing, to allow the CBN to do its work and refrain from dabbling into what is within the CBN’s purview.

“If he would be true to himself and what transpired at the meeting, we expected Alhaji Atiku to praise President Tinubu for maintaining this stance and for not interfering with the business of the Central Bank.

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“It is false and preposterous for Atiku to claim that CBN’s FX management policy was hurriedly put together without proper plans and consultations with stakeholders.

“(It is also not true) that the apex bank is hamstrung by Tinubu’s government in implementing a sound FX Management Policy.”

He said the CBN governor was implementing a raft of policies to stabilise the Naira and end volatility in the market, adding that this was already yielding positive results. Onanuga cited the latest Nigeria Bureau of Statistics report of increased capital importation, adding that in the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria recorded a 66.27% increase in capital inflow.

He said that there was an improvement from the Q3 of 654.65 million dollars, which rose to 1.09 billion dollars in Q4.

“Alhaji Atiku will agree that the rise in capital inflow suggests massive investors’ confidence in Nigeria and the policy direction of the Tinubu administration.

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“Juxtaposed with the policy options being implemented by the CBN, Atiku’s alternative of a controlled floatation of the Naira is similar to the policy of Godwin Emefiele.”

He said that the Emefiele policy led to the spending of 1.5 billion dollars monthly to shore up the Naira, while arbitrage or round-tripping went on unhindered.

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