Nigeria’s Jonathan Sees Strong Naira in 2015; Stable Economy

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the West African nation will keep its currency strong and its economy stable in 2015 as it seeks to boost investor confidence following a downturn in oil prices.

The government will “take away speculative behaviors’ and maintain ‘‘healthy’’ external reserves to ‘‘ensure the naira remains strong,’’ Jonathan said today in a national broadcast to mark the new year. That will ‘‘give foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need,’’ he said.

The 2015 budget contains measures to guarantee economic stability and ‘‘ensure that the downturn in the price of oil does not affect our development plans too adversely,’’ he said. Oil accounts for 70 percent of Nigeria’s income and 95 percent of its foreign exchange.

Nigeria is struggling to curb currency volatility that led to a 12.6 percent retreat last year, as oil prices lost almost half their value in the biggest annual decline since the 2008 global financial crisis. Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala proposed cutting this year’s budget by 8 percent to 4.36 trillion naira ($23.6 billion) while the government will seek to strengthen tax collection, raise taxes on luxury items and alcohol, and diversify the economy.

The 2015 budget ‘‘is targeted at deepening our efforts at becoming a non-oil economy,” and attract foreign direct investment, Jonathan said.

The president, who faces a re-election challenge in February amid an Islamist insurgency, said security agencies will be bolstered to ensure the balloting is peaceful.

Boko Haram militants who have killed thousands of people over the past five years in their bid to impose Islamic law in Africa’s biggest economy “will be defeated,” Jonathan said. “We are re-equipping our armed forces to win the war against terror.”

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