Ex-TUC president , Esele, backs President Tinubu on review of currency swap

By Deborah Coker

A former President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Peter Esele, on Wednesday supported President Bola Tinubu’s plan to review the policy on the Naira currency swap.

Tinubu in his inaugural speech, after he was sworn in as the 16 president of Nigeria, said that whatever merits the currency swap had in concept, it was too harshly applied by the CBN.

Esele told a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN): “I think for the currency swap, that is something that should be looked at. I am 100 per cent in support of looking at reviewing it.

“The concept is not bad in itself, but the implementation was done terribly.

“Nigerians lost their lives, Nigerians lost their dignity, Nigerians were made to look like fools and Nigerians were mentally dealt with.

“It’s unprecedented what we went through, all in the name of naira redesign. There’s nothing wrong in coming up and withdrawing currency. But you can’t do that in two months. You can’t do that in three months.

“In the UK, for example, they are withdrawing the British pounds that had the mask of the Queen of England, and replacing it with the one with the mask of the King since the Queen died that is when they started the process, even up to the inauguration of the king.

“Now they are doing it gradually and then the whole thing go out seamlessly.

“I read the Poultry Association of Nigeria saying that the naira redesign cost them more than 40 billion naira. That is only a single sector. So across the board businesses suffered.”

He noted that the implementation of the policy was very terribly done by the CBN, adding that the apex bank was a huge disappointment.

Esele therefore said that the decision of the president on the issue should not be seen as policy summersault, but rather as policy review.

He said this was because the president during his electioneering campaigns had consistently said that he was not against the concept, but the implementation.

“And if you read it in his inaugural address, he didn’t say he would do away with it, he simply said he will retool it. That is the way I interpret what he said. That is, they will carry out a review.

On the subsidy removal, Esele urged Nigerians to give the president the benefit of doubt.

“Already queues are building up, and hoarding is taking place. People are hoarding, but let’s see if probably he has all the plans, all the whole thing worked out.

“And let’s give him benefit of doubt and see how he is going to go about and implement it. Probably he will do something big, probably he is coming to do something different.

“So I would rather, we adopt a wait and see attitude instead of criticising.

“He has said subsidy is going, and actually there is no budget for subsidy. That’s what he said. But we’ll give him benefit of the doubt.”

NAN reports that Tinubu had said the application of the currency swap by the apex bank was too harsh considering the number of unbanked Nigerians.

Tinubu said he would work towards unifying the exchange rate in order to direct funds into meaningful investments.

He said a unified exchange rate would be in creating equipment and jobs that would power the economy.

He added that interest rates would be reduced to increase investment in such a way that would sustain the economy at a higher level.(NAN)

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