People’s Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, says he does not mind taking 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.
In an interview with The Africa Report, the former vice president noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policies have driven foreign companies out of the country as they have not been market friendly.
Atiku said if he is elected president in the 2019 presidential election, floating of the naira would stabilise the exchange rate and attract more investors with incentives that will 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.
Asked how that kind of economic approach, would be beneficial to an import dependent country as Nigeria, Atiku 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.”
As well as incumbent President Muhammad Buhari, Atiku Abubakar will be slugging it out with not less than thirty aspirants of other parties, including former Cross River state Governor, Donald Duke, a former minister, Oby Ezekwesili and publisher of an online medium (Sahara Reporters), Omoyele Sowore.