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Saturday, 6 August 2016

Don't Trade Our Economy For Religion, Group Warns Buhari

The federal government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, is having one of the worst criticisms over a new forex policy that puts religion first .
 
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), which is a socio-political group of the Yoruba people, has warned the federal government of Nigeria against its policy of subsidising pilgrimage.

President Buhari has received bashing for subsiding forex for Muslims.

The government had reportedly instructed banks, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that they should make the exchange rate N197 to a dollar just hours after the naira crashed to N400 to a dollar. 

Since announcing the policy, Nigerians have taken to every available medium to castigate the presidency and the government and accusing them of attempting to crash the country’s economy further. 

In a statement made by Kunle Famoriyo, the publicity secretary of ARG, the organisation said the policy “sends wrong signals about the touted autonomy of the Central Bank of Nigeria” and it is “tantamount to prioritizing religion over the nation’s economic needs.” 

It added that religion is personal and should not be given priority when there are more fundamental and higher priority issues to expend the country’s scarce foreign exchange on.

 Last August, outrage greeted the federal government’s approval that dollar be sold to intending pilgrimage at N160/$1 at a time the official rate was around N197. According to ARG, this “religious subsidy” policy is “needless, leaves room for sharp practices, and it is in bad taste considering that the forex policy is deemed to have been somewhat been liberalised. 

“For example, importers of pharmaceutical products and textbooks do not benefit from a government special rebate, considering that these are more essential needs. “Education has also been adversely affected by the forex crisis with more Nigerians affected than those going on pilgrimages,” the statement said. 

“Already, thousands of Nigerians studying abroad are being recalled home because their sponsors could no longer afford the fees. 

“Also, We know that overseas education is a private choice but so also is religious pilgrimage. If any of the two deserves government intervention, it is education, unequivocally. 

“This ‘religious subsidy’ policy sends a wrong message about the touted independence of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which does not portend well for the economy at a time Nigeria is desperate about shoring up its Foreign Reserve".

“This policy is more damaging to a larger Nigerian population that depends on stable forex policy and strengthening of the Naira. This is clearly a wrong priority and it must stop.”

Source: NAIJ

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