Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, believes that it’s worth the risk to float the naira even if it results in inflation, noting that any side effect will be balanced out by attracting more inflow of foreign currency.
During an interview with The Africa Report, published on Wednesday, the former vice president said President Muhammadu Buhari‘s economic policies have not been market-friendly and driven foreign companies out of the country.
To address the problem, if elected president in the 2019 presidential election, he said floating the naira would stabilise the exchange rate and attract more investors with incentives that’ll ultimately boost the economy.
“I would prefer to float the naira because I believe that will bring about a more stable exchange rate. Therefore, foreign investors are more likely to return to Nigeria and invest as much as possible. We have to create more incentives for foreign investment and relax conditionalities, remove regulations as much as possible,” he said.
When quizzed over how that kind of approach, especially in an import-dependent economy like Nigeria’s, would most likely will drive up inflation, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said it can be balanced with the huge inflow of foreign currency.
He said, “There could be devaluation and there could be a lot of inflow of foreign currency into the country. The devaluation that is likely to result can be balanced with the relatively huge (sums of) foreign currency that will be coming into the country.
“We had that situation prior to the departure of (former president) Goodluck Jonathan. At that time, we had a pile of foreign investment in the country, and there was stability of the naira. So people did not have to go to the central bank to look for foreign exchange because there was foreign exchange in the market and in the banks. So it could turn out to be a win-win situation.”
2019 presidential election
While next year’s election, scheduled for February 16, 2019, is expected to be keenly-contested between Atiku and President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), they both face competition from other candidatesincluding Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).
Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP), Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP), Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP), Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN), Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and many more.
79 candidates will contest in the election, the highest number ever in Nigeria’s electoral history.