BY PATIENCE IHEJIRIKA and JANE ZITTAS, Abuja
In a bid to find a lasting solution to the depreciation of naira and reverse its effects on Nigeria’s economy, stakeholders in the financial sector have called for the review of some of the policies made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The call was made on Thursday in Abuja at the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS)’s roundtable dialogue, themed: ‘Depreciating value of naira and the Nigeria economy’.
Addressing journalists at the event, the director-general of NILDS, Prof. Olanrewaju Suleiman, said the main topic for conversation at the dialogue has to do with the implications for depreciating naira as against other currencies and the need to engage intellectuals, practitioners and other operators in the foreign exchange market to look at the issue critically.
He said “If at the point of the policy or measure the rate of naira depreciated and that of the other currencies especially the falling ones jump up, we believe that something fundamental is wrong. So we are now trying to look at it, what do we do? What has gone wrong from the points of the intellectuals? What has gone wrong from the point of the practitioners? What has gone wrong from the points of the operators of the markets? What has gone wrong from the point of view of CBN and other parts and we discover most importantly, there should be a kind of relationship between the parallel market operators and the CBN.”
Suleiman stressed the need for a strict policy framework on the operation of Bureau De Change (BDC), describing it as fundamental.
He said: “The BDC could have their own problems in terms of aiding terrorism as one of their theories ,in terms of aiding insecurities as one of the theories, in terms of sabotage as one of the theories, but there should be a way out.
In other climes, through BDC, but they don’t have BDC that seats on the shade of trees at zone4, they don’t have BDC that parade, that move around at the airports, they have BDC’s that are regimented and regulated and a lot of these BDC’s perhaps owned by people who work in CBN or other banks too.
“I see a situation where CBN need to look into it, review it and perhaps do some step down and perhaps look at the measure very well because whatever you like, whatever you say about the BDC, they are stakeholders, thy are critical actors in our economy, they need to be listened to, if you are talking about the issue of them aiding insecurity, terrorism and perhaps being a medium of money laundering, I think there are actually some documents of regulation you can adopt.
“These are fundamental issues. I think fundamentally there’s a need for a strict policy, legislative framework or regime to control and regulate whatever we are doing. CBN needs to revisit that part.
There are better measures to adopt in addressing the issue. The measures we have taken so far have not helped our economy so we need to look into it.”
He also identified the desire for foreign currencies by Nigerians as a challenge, while stressing the need to rejuvenate or resuscitate the country’s productive needs.
According to him, “The craves for dollars and pounds, the chase for foreign currency is on the increase. Today in Abuja and some other cities in Nigeria, you can’t buy certain things with naira, you have to spend dollars and pounds, so there’s a need for policy flavor to stop that. What are we doing about our healing, you know industries that are dying in terms of bail out, and how do we bring them on board to strengthen our productivity. Our local currency is no longer attractive.
The acting president, Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the association was discussing with the CBN, saying they are not against reform.
He however expressed dissatisfaction over giving rights to some institutions to operate in the field, especially as regard diaspora remittance, saying there was a need to break the monopoly and create liquidity.
Present at the event for the discussions were the chairman, house committee on banking and currency, Hon. Victor Nwokolo, director of operations, EFCC, Mr. Abdulkareem Chiko, chief economist, Development Bank of Nigeria(DBN), Prof. Joseph Nnanna, former DVC administration, Alex Ekwume Federal University, Ebonyi, Prof. Phillip Omoke, vice chairman, house committee on finance, Hon. Saidu Musa Abdullahi and director of legal, CBN, Mr. Logo Salam- Alada.