The blame game on why Nigeria’s local currency, the naira, has defied all measures aimed at shoring up its value against major currencies continues.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the major players in the parallel market, the Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators, have continued to blame the other for the problem.
The apex bank said it was shocked to notice that despite all its measures, naira has continued on a downward trend, exchanging for N460 per dollar as at last Thursday at the parallel market.
It exchanged for N449 the previous week following news report that CBN was about releasing more dollars into the system.
Though CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has said the exchange rate of naira should not be based on what obtains at the parallel market, his aides said he was worried by the free fall of the currency.
In a bid to get a new angle to the problem, CBN was said to have summoned the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) for a meeting aimed at evolving practical steps to stem the tide.
Officials said the meeting could not achieve much as it ended up in each party blaming the other for the development.
A source at the meeting said while the CBN was blaming the parallel market operators for selling and buying dollars based on speculation, contrary to early warning against such practice, the operators accused the apex bank officials of inconsistency in policy, which has seen different policies and directives being issued in quick succession.
The operators cited for instance how the current restriction of CBN on banks customers’ use of their ATM cards to purchase goods and service abroad from their domiciliary accounts, has created fresh pressure on the banks and indirectly on the naira over dollars.
The ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, who confirmed that such meeting held, refused to give details of what transpired.
But a member put it this way: “Not much has been done to reduce the increased-demand pressure on dollar purchase in the Lagos market, which is the only one the CBN has allowed banks to have dealings with.
“With the yuletide around the corner, naira fall will go down further than the marginal expectation, even when the situation was normal; we usually go out of our ways to source for dollars at this time for the season.
“But with the recession, nobody can tell what the value of naira will be in the next two to three months, let’s hope it will not hit more than N500 per dollar.”
Experts said one of the solutions is to allow as many commercial banks as are willing to sell forex to the BDCs in any parts of the country, as against the current situation, which allows only two of the banks to attend to demands of forex outside Lagos.
By Emma Eke…..
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