Falling Naira: NLC expresses concern, may ‘take appropriate steps’

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By Danlami Nmodu
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed what it called “grave concern over the rapid and unprecedented devaluation of the Nigerian Naira against major world currencies, particularly the United States Dollar.”

Comrade Joe Ajaero, NLC President who disclosed this in a statement Sunday said “This alarming trend, if left unchecked, threatens to unleash a wave of devastating consequences on the Nigerian economy and its citizens.

He added, “As a nation heavily reliant on imports, Nigeria is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of a weakened currency. The Nigeria Labour Congress wishes to emphasize that the repercussions of this crisis will be felt acutely by workers and the masses, leading to an unbearable surge in inflation rates. The potential chaos and suffering that may ensue from such a scenario are, quite frankly, unimaginable.

According to the NLC President, “We are highly pained at the actions of many Nigerians especially Public officials whose policies and actions ought to be unwaveringly patriotic and on the side of the economy and the people but who have sadly chosen to do otherwise. It is said that a dog does not eat the bone hung on its neck but our leaders have consistently devoured theirs to the detriment of the nation and in total breach of Public trust and confidence.

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“The unrestrained taste of our Public officials for products manufactured outside the shores of Nigeria is grossly unpatriotic and lays our economy prostrate and our nation tottering on the brink of disaster. This penchant is one of the most contributory factors to the apparent high coefficient of imports which has had devastating effects on the value of the Naira. It is unhealthy for public officials in various capacities to reward themselves with tools that are imported from outside our shores. 

NLC noted that, “Nigeria is fortunately currently blessed with local producers in certain sectors whose brands meet international standards and can therefore meet the demands of certain products for the public service in the country. We are therefore surprised that rather than patronize these brands, our public officials insist on the use of foreign products yet, we want the value of the Naira to remain robust in the foreign exchange market. The simple maxim is that, you cannot have your cake and eat it. It is either we put our food where our mouth is or we end up destroying our economy with our own hands.

“These actions of our public officials de-markets the Naira and is one of the most dangerous factors sounding the death knell on the local currency. We therefore call on all Nigerian public officials to be more patriotic in their choices and favour locally manufactured goods. The positive multipliers created by patronizing locally manufactured goods is huge and is capable of jump starting the critical sectors of the nation’s economy but our refusal to do that has left the Naira wobbling and teary.

“Every money spent on buying foreign made goods creates jobs outside the country to the detriment of our labour market and puts pressure on the Naira. However, every amount spent on purchasing locally manufactured goods, creates jobs in Nigeria thus increases employment, elevates income, reduces poverty and much more reduces the pressure on the Naira as it encourages local manufacturers to increase production, raise their standards and create better chances for export.

He said further, “The Nigeria Labour Congress hereby calls upon the custodians of our economy to recognize the gravity of the situation and take immediate and decisive action to halt this uncontrolled depreciation of the Naira. We implore the monetary authorities to implement effective measures to safeguard the Naira, stabilize the economy, and secure the future of our beloved nation.

“All nations of the world take pride in protecting their domestic currencies from all manners of threats but the reverse seems to be the case in Nigeria. Why a country with high import coefficient and a less than one elasticity of exports would allow its local currency to be at the mercy of the vagaries of the so-called market forces leaves us surprised and deeply worried. This is despite all the wise counsels warning against the consequences of such actions. It is only an economy with a vibrant and robust domestic manufacturing capacity that is export oriented that will respond quickly and effectively to a free-falling local currency not one like ours that is steeply bogged down by supply inertia and unable to meet domestic demands competitively talk less of responding positively and taking advantage of the falling Naira. 

“We need to deliberately protect the Naira by buying locally manufactured goods especially those used by public office holders. We still remember when the Peugeot and VW brands were used as official vehicles in the public sector and that made a lot of sense. We insist that we return to the idea of using only locally made vehicles for public officials in Nigeria. Any person in Public office whose taste has become exogenously determined should satisfy that through his own purse and not the public treasury. 

“In the absence of swift and tangible interventions, the Nigeria Labour Congress may find itself compelled to take appropriate steps to compel the relevant authorities to prioritize the rescue of the Naira, the economy, and ultimately, the entire nation.

“We stand ready to engage constructively with all stakeholders in pursuit of a lasting solution to this pressing issue. Together, we can and must ensure the stability and prosperity of our great nation. The Naira must be saved if we are to make progress.”

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