Chris Steven, Abuja
Contrary to calls that the federal government should devalue the nation’s currency, Naira, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that a sustained diversification plan by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration steadily moving away from the current mono-product economy, would increase the country’s foreign exchange earnings and raise the value of the currency.
Professor Osinbajo explained that raising the value of the Naira will take a multi-pronged approach, including ensuring there is an increase in earnings, exporting more and driving infrastructural development through local and foreign direct investments.
“This forms a critical part of the current federal government’s diversification agenda of the economy. For instance, the government has already embarked upon a plan for self-sufficiency in rice and wheat production, which, when it succeeds will reduce pressure on foreign exchange.” He said
Answering questions from journalists in Enugu, during a visit over the weekend, the Vice President said the Buhari administration’s economic policies would produce a stronger Naira. He said by earning more and exporting more, the value of the Naira will improve.
Speaking specifically on the economic diversification programmes of the federal government in the area of agriculture, the VP said “we are trying to ensure that we are self-sufficient in rice production and wheat production, so that there will be less pressure on the dollar.”
“The federal government is currently exploring how to expand and enlarge rice production through an effective partnership with several rice-producing states from the North.” He added
Explaining further how to shore up the Naira, the Vice President said “one of the major issues is that we have to earn more foreign exchange to raise the value of the Naira. We also have to do more business internally to raise the value of the Naira. So diversifying the economy is an important way to strengthen the value of the Naira”.
“Right now, we are importing a lot of rice and wheat. So if we are self-sufficient in rice and wheat, there will be less pressure on the foreign exchange; and that will improve the value of the Naira”, he submitted.
Also, the Vice President restated the Federal Government’s interest in ensuring that all inter-state roads in the Southeastern region of the country are accessible for the ease of commerce and movement of people.
Citing this as an important reason for government to embark on the repair of several federal roads in the region and across the country, the Vice President expressed government readiness to intervene in addressing this national challenge for traders and commuters in the interest of the nation’s economic development.
Speaking about the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Port Harcourt-Onitsha road, Professor Osinbajo noted that he had already discussed the issue with the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was with the Vice President during his private visit to the state and also hosted him briefly at the Enugu State Government House on Saturday.
He said “we are certainly interested in ensuring that all of the access roads especially between states where commerce is thriving are in good condition. We are going to have a very good look at it, to see what the financial constraints are.”
He re-assured that “despite all the constraints, it is important that we rehabilitate the roads, especially between cities where there is a lot of commercial activities.”
Chris Steven, Abuja