Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says as long as Nigeria’s economy is dollar-dominated, palliative measures to cushion the effect of petrol subsidy removal will yield very little.
On Thursday, the federal government announced a N5 billion palliative for each state of the federation, including the federal capital territory (FCT), amid hardship and inflation caused by the fuel subsidy removal.
Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno state, had said the funds would enable state governments to procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize and fertilisers.
Speaking during an interview on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Friday, Falana said the root cause of the disarray in Nigeria’s economy is “dollarisation”.
He said it is the job of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to curtail the primacy of dollars in the nation’s economy.
“The measures by the government are temporary. Some of them are quite diversionary,” he said.
“The people in government have not addressed the root of the crisis which is the dollarisation of the economy.
“Whatever palliatives that are announced would be eaten up by the dollarisation of the economy, and we are not in control.
“As long as these guys in the government are not prepared to strengthen the naira, to make the naira the only legal tender in Nigeria, we are not going to go far.”
Falana also said floating the nation’s currency is an illegality.
“From a legal perspective, I have had to sue the central bank of Nigeria because section 16 of the CBN act has imposed a duty on the central bank to determine the currency rate of Nigeria vis-a-vis other currencies,” he said.
“So, there is no provision for floating the naira. It is illegal.
“Section 20 (1) of the CBN Act provides that the currency notes issued by the CBN are only the naira.
“Section 20(5), anybody who spends any other currency in Nigeria without the approval of the CBN has committed an offence and shall be prosecuted. The penalty is six months imprisonment.
“Why does the Nigerian government allow for properties to be sold in dollars, rents to be collected in dollars, some school fees to be paid in dollars and everybody looking for dollars?
“Even to pray weekly in Jerusalem and Mecca you need to pay in dollars. There is so much pressure on the dollar.”