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Monday, July 15, 2024

#Unorthodox: Buhari’s Gov’t Chopping Down Trees In Abuja ‘To Defend The Weakening Naira’

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has begun chopping down trees in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja in a bid to defend the naira from decline.

According to Financial Times, the Buhari-led FG is cutting down trees lining the streets of Abuja to “thwart black market money changers, one of a range of unorthodox measures it is deploying to defend its weakening currency”.

A labourer hired by the Abuja Municipal Council to cut down the trees who spoke with the Financial Times in August 2015 said, “The government does not want the trees because people are doing illegal work under them,” as he cut down branches from a tree with a chainsaw.

“The man was referring to money changers from the north of the country who rest under the shade of the trees and sell US dollars, British pounds, and even Saudi riyals to customers hungry for hard currency,” the report concluded.

Other workers were seen cutting down smaller trees with machetes.

Another worker named Alex told the Financial Times reporter, “People change dollars on the road here and it’s not supposed to be like that. People are supposed to go to the banks to do transactions.”

The Financial Times’ report also says:

But a series of central bank decrees issued this summer has instead increasingly restricted how Nigerians can use their banks, seemingly encouraging black market activity. For example, money changers in Abuja say the new rule barring Nigerians from depositing hard currency into banks only boosts unofficial trade.

The naira, still reeling from an oil price of less than $50 a barrel and political uncertainty in the run-up to this year’s elections, has lost a fifth of its value in the past year and has been devalued twice. In import-dependent Nigeria, demand for dollars remains high yet the fall in the price of crude has cut the flow of currency as income from oil exports has dwindled.

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