President Bola Tinubu on Friday urged Nigerians to patronise made-in-Nigeria products and services to sustain the recent gains of the naira in the foreign exchange market.

He said the recent appreciation of the value of the naira against the dollar does not spell Uhuru yet.

Therefore, he called for more collaboration from citizens, whom he urged to blow the whistle on persons seen engaging in practices that undermine the local currency.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, disclosed these to journalists when he delivered Tinubu’s message at a State House briefing on Friday.

Upon assuming office 10 months ago, the Tinubu administration discontinued subsidies on petrol, which, he said, would save the government monies for infrastructural expansion.

He also unified the foreign exchange rates to curb currency arbitrage. However, these moves sparked collateral instability in the value of the Naira and heaped hardship on Nigerians as food prices soared.

In February 2024, N1,900 was exchanged for one USD in the black market. The Naira has recently seen a steady climb against the US dollar, exchanging N1,382/$ at the official market on Thursday.

Ngelale argued that a stronger naira is necessary for working citizens as it would complement the new minimum wage upon implementation.

He explained, “I’m confident that Nigerians have witnessed the strengthening of the Nigerian Naira against the United States Dollar. This is clearly the direction all of us have wanted to head, and we are very sober to the fact that this is no time to rest or to clap.

“This is why His Excellency President Bola Tinubu has approved a series of interventions to ensure that we see a mass strengthening of the Nigerian Naira against all other global currencies.

“One, President Bola Tinubu, wants to communicate very clearly to our people that there has never been a more important time in our history to actively agree together that we will patronise and purchase made-in-Nigeria products across all value chains, across all sectors.

“There is an intentionality that we must have on this issue, and we want a strong currency. We want the spending power of our people to go up. We want every Naira and kobo we earn to be more valuable, not just here, but when we travel abroad, the way to achieve that is by doing just this.”

He noted that the strengthening of the Naira was achieved through collaboration with the Central Bank and other government agencies in “dealing decisively with sharp practices on certain crypto-currency trading platforms, within the parallel market of the foreign exchange ecosystem.”

To complement these efforts, the presidential spokesman said Tinubu is appealing to Nigerians to “blow the whistle wherever they see any of these sharp practices taking place, to communicate with the agencies that deal with these issues directly.”

They must do so understanding that “this is not a government versus malign actors’ issue. This is the Federal Republic of Nigeria versus malign actors’ issue, and the activities of these actors negatively impact everybody.”

“So all of us have to take up the mantle and agree that we will collaborate to deal with these issues,” he added.

Ngelale, who said the minimum wage negotiations are ongoing, warned that the efforts would be a “moot point, nullity…if we do not get a firm grip on the value of our currency.”

He noted that while the administration is poised to arrive at a new minimum wage states can afford; it also wants it pegged at a number that is “sustainable over a number of years based on the long-term stability that we want to bring to the Nigerian Naira with the interventions we’re presently making.”

Meanwhile, Ngelale explained that the FG expects to save N5bn quarterly by imposing a strict three-month ban on all publicly-funded foreign trips for ministers, heads of government agencies and other officials.

In a letter dated March 2, 2024, from the Office of the President’s Chief of Staff, Tinubu imposed a three-month ban on all official foreign trips for heads of ministries, departments and agencies beginning April 1, 2024.

The letter explained that the aim is to reduce the rising expenses incurred by ministries, departments, and agencies on international travel and ensure that cabinet members and heads of MDAs focus on their respective mandates for effective service delivery.

The Presidential Spokesman said, “With the temporary ban being put in place from April 1 on all but unnecessary foreign travel, we’re expecting to save over N5bn per quarter.

“This is going to be one out of several initiatives the President is taking to ensure that we reduce waste in the public sector in such a way that we can actually steer these very needed recurrent resources into the hands of those who are doing important work on behalf of the Nigerian people.”

He cited recent reviews of the pay structure of judicial officers to ensure internationally competitive remuneration.

Ngelale said this is crucial for the country “in the sense that we can dramatically reduce the impact that corruption has always played in the judiciary, which has an impact on not just the ability of Nigerians to get effective justice but also to ensure that businesses who we are now asking around the world to invest in Nigeria have a judicial system that they can trust with respect to any litigation that could arise from business practice in the country.”

To complement the recovery programme of the administration, the Presidential aide cited various measures Tinubu introduced to ease the effects of the harsh economic realities, saying the programmes are about to go live.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is going to ensure that our micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises in the country have what they need to get through this difficult period.

“This is why he has approved the Presidential conditional grant scheme in which over 1 million Nigerian businesses will be empowered with conditional grants; this is money they will not have to pay back of up to N50,000 per nano enterprise, with over 1 million Nano enterprises being selected and granted these funds within every local government area of the Federation,” he explained.

He also announced that more than N150bn is being disbursed from the Bank of Industry and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency while also approved is the single-digit interest rate loans of up to N2m to hundreds of 1000s of small and medium scale enterprises across all local government areas of the Federation.

Ngelale added that Tinubu is prioritising intervention of N75bn to 75 industries and manufacturing companies with a staff strength of over 1000 workers to ensure necessary support is given to such firms, thereby expanding their hiring strength.

“We want to ensure that those industries and sectors that are massively employing our people are those industries that are prioritised concerning government intervention, which is why the President has approved over N75bn to be dispersed to 75 large-scale manufacturers across all states of the Federation.

“These will be manufacturers who employ over 1000 Nigerians in each of their facilities and industries. We are going to ensure that they have the support that they need on a large scale so that Nigerian families who rely on these large-scale businesses are protected.

“We want to see our large-scale industries not just refuse to fire people but actively increase and expand their hiring at this difficult time,” he added.

March 22, 2024

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