The United States said on Monday it will press Nigeria in talks this week to adopt a more flexible foreign exchange rate to boost growth and investment in Africa’s largest economy.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told an audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace that Nigeria should ensure the value of the naira currency versus the U.S. dollar was “more realistic.”
“While most people complain about the possibility of there being a devaluation, people are already operating on a devalued currency, and the only people who are not, are people who are doing it officially,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“Our recommendation is, and we will have discussions about it … that they should look at the exchange rate and try to make the exchange rate more realistic to what the value of the naira is to the dollar,” she added.
She spoke ahead of talks in Washington on Thursday involving officials from the State Department, Pentagon and Treasury and their counterparts in the Nigerian government.
Nigeria faces its worst economic crisis in decades as the falling price of oil has slashed revenues, prompting the central bank to peg the currency and introduce curbs to protect foreign exchange reserves, which have fallen to an 11-year low.
Some members of Nigeria’s central bank monetary policy committee have said the naira should be devalued. However, President Muhammadu Buhari has said devaluation will not bring any benefit whatsoever to the Nigerian economy.
According to online reports, Nigerian cleric T.B. Joshua had warned Buhari in his ‘prophecy’ for 2016 of the impending pressure ahead of him to devalue the Nigerian currency, despite his insistence against adopting such a measure.