**States detailed reasons


An open letter to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR; President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Dear Mr. President,

May I begin by wishing you a happy Ramadan in advance hoping that the spiritual exercise would reenergize and further equip you for the onerous task of leading Africa’s greatest nation, unifying the West African bloc and charting a course for the general advancement and respectability of Africa in the comity of nations.

Your Excellency, hunger, anger, and hyperinflation have made a time bomb of Nigerians. On every nook and cranny of the country, there is palpable tension, frustration, and confusion on the way forward in the face of unprecedented suffering. The signs of a dangerous crescendo building up are too ominous, too scary, and the momentum too ferocious. The consequences would be dire for our country, democratic experience, and political elites. You must, therefore, move to preempt the break out of any protest in the magnitude of #EndSARS.

This is because the buck stops on your table. History is already recording this moment in your name, but it can end differently with pragmatic corrective measures thoughtfully conceived, dutifully analysed, and implemented with the most patriotic attention to detail. This is your call. Our duty is to highlight areas that demand urgent remedial measures, and so I make bold to suggest the following areas that require a declaration of a state of emergency:

ON THE ECONOMY

Even in advanced countries where power supply is stable and taken for granted, their people enjoy some form of subsidy or the other. Nigeria ought not to be the exception, especially considering that most households and firms generate their power supply. Fuel subsidy was the only social welfare program of government that was guaranteed to trickle down to every last person in the country. It had a profound and direct impact on the welfare and job creation potential of even the poorest Nigerian. Its sudden and uncoordinated removal has unleashed a most fearsome and debilitating austerity on the people.

I am aware that abuses, dubious and corrupt activities associated with the fuel subsidy program elicited patriotic calls for its abrogation, however its implementation should not have been hurried nor the consequences of its removal not planned for. I must concede that what has been done has been done. But, the strategic importance of the price of fuel to the economy can not be overemphasised, as it affects and is affected by the exchange rate. The price of goods and other costs of living that have skyrocketed to the high heavens are a direct consequence of the high prices of petroleum products in an era of exchange rate deregulation.

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Therefore, it must be said that the government’s twin policy of simultaneously floating the exchange rate and removing fuel subsidy is the key that has unlocked the Pandora box of hyperinflation and extreme suffering in the land. The government should, therefore, work with Dangote Refinery, Port Harcourt Refinery, Kaduna Refinery, and Modular Refineries to deliberately bring down drastically the price of fuel within a specific time frame. We can not continue with the present pricing of petroleum products. It is unacceptable and severely detrimental to the survival of the poor masses.

The foreign exchange crisis which has further exacerbated the run away inflation we are witnessing in the country, is the consequence of a lack of confidence in our currency the naira and unregulated demand for our scarce foreign earnings.
While the government is working on diversifying and improving the foreign exchange earning capacity of the country, it would be unproductive to hinge the value of our currency on the raw forces of demand and supply without also working on reducing the pressure on available foreign earnings.

Our currency is our sovereignty, but the shocking and massive devaluation that your policy brought on it has eroded confidence in the naira as a store of value. Most Nigerians have resorted to converting their wealth to other currencies due to a complete loss of confidence in the present and future value of the naira. This adds to the foreign exchange woes of our currency. Hence, the government should consciously work to restore confidence in the naira with the following remedial policy recalibration:
a. All individuals and registered corporate entities operating in Nigeria should be barred from demanding payments in foreign currencies. No matter the value, government agencies should charge fees for services rendered within Nigeria in our currency. This will help boost confidence in the naira.
b. All exports, both oil and non-oil exports, should be properly documented, and the proceeds repatriated via a designated account with the CBN. The exporters should only be entitled to the proceeds in our local currency, the naira.

c. The government must revisit the owners and operators of oil wells in Nigeria, with a view to ensuring that the proceeds of businesses are repatriated through CBN designated accounts.
d. All Nigerian registered businesses should be barred from holding their board meetings outside the country, while it should be mandatory for them to declare their dividends in the currency of the host country, Nigeria.
f. The dream of chasing a unified exchange rate is a mirage. The CBN should be mandated to stop the chase and, instead, work to give Nigeria a realistic exchange rate for our currency.

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Uncontrolled and unrestricted demand for all forms of imports, tangible and intangible, places a huge pressure on our scarce foreign earnings. This is detrimental to the economy and a disincentive to local production, employment, and stability of a realistic foreign exchange rate for our currency. Access to foreign currency must be managed and not be free for all affairs. We must control via the Federal Ministry for Education clearance for overseas studies. Nigerian students should not be cleared to study in foreign universities where such courses are available in Nigerian universities, except they are on foreign scholarships or if parents of applicants show verifiable evidence of overseas earnings (not foreign account balances).
Graduates who were not cleared by the Ministry for Education will be disqualified from participation in the NYSC program on their return to the country, with all the employment and political consequences that come with such a disqualification
Medical tourism is another area that puts pressure on our scarce foreign earnings. The Federal Ministry for Health should be the final approving authority for medical treatments abroad, provided the medical issue under review can not be handled by any facility in Nigeria.

Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) should be allowed only once in five years. Business Travel Allowance must be approved by the Ministry for Trade, which shall review the purpose and the benefits of such travels to the economy of this country.

For many years, Nigeria has been a dumping ground for cheap and substandard goods from other countries, especially China. This destroys our manufacturing sector, creates unemployment, and puts pressure on our scarce foreign exchange earnings.
To stay afloat in the face of serious economic crisis we are in, all trade treaties and agreements with other countries must be revisited and reviewed in favour of Nigeria. The following items, though not exhaustive, should be placed on a prohibited list of imported goods, viz:

  1. Private jets
  2. Motor vehicles for at least five years. Nigerians should be encouraged to use vehicles assembled or made in Nigeria.
  3. Clothes and shoes (including used ones)
  4. Cement and tiles
  5. Toothpick and toothpaste
  6. Meat and processed meat
  7. Palm oli, palm kennel, margarine, and rice
  8. Soap and cosmetics
  9. Plastic and rubber products
  10. Tomatoes and tomatoes paste
  11. Eurobonds and foreign currency bonds
  12. Oversea share purchases
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Our fragile foreign exchange system should not be left open to invasion by speculators who add nothing to the foreign exchange ecosystem. Therefore, all cryptocurrency platforms must be proscribed forthwith.

WAR ON CORRUPTION

Your Excellency, I appreciate your sterling efforts towards streamlining the operations and transparency of the CBN. May I plead that you should extend the investigation to cover the years 2008 to 2023.
Similarly, a forensic audit of the NNPC from 2008-2023 should be carried out. Our banks and their chief executive officers should be investigated from 2008-2023, particularly as it concerns the integrity of their letter of credit and other foreign exchange transactions.
All pending EFCC and ICPC cases from 2008-2023 should be brought up for prosecution irrespective of who is involved.

Mr. President, our political class must show empathy to the masses who are at the receiving end of unfavourable government policies and current economic crisis. Presently, their loud ostentation is insensitive to the plight of the suffering masses. Secondly, their invasive and overbearing attitude in the running of agencies of government under the guise of oversight functions leaves much to be desired. This needs to be proactively checked.

Your Excellency, may I close by saying that Nigeria is ripe for a return to the Parliamentary system of government or a remodelled Presidential system with a unicameral legislature, where ministers will be appointed therefrom. The savings from our present overbloated system could be redirected to a more productive investment in the economy. Therefore, it goes without saying that the 2014 Conference report should be revisited and modalities for restructuring the country set in motion, with a view to reinvigorating and firing up the survival instincts of the federating units.

Mr. President, the realities on the ground are dire, a state of emergency is inevitable and urgently needed in all critical sectors of Nigeria. The time to act is now.

I thank you for your time.

Chief Edet Nkpubre (FCA)
Urue Offong Oruko
Akwa Ibom State.