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Sunday, 6 October 2013
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has blamed the ravenous demand for the United States dollars on politicians who are preparing for the 2015 general elections.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, governor of the apex bank said that investigations, showed tens of billions of naira were traded for dollars in cash, much more than importers needed to buy goods or investors to repatriate funds, and there was no trace of where the money came from or where it was going.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency, he said that “Obviously, this was some form of money laundering to cover all the trails. And with interest rates as high as they are, the only people who can take that much naira and buy dollars are people who are not borrowing their money.”
The prime suspects, he said, are politicians jockeying for position ahead of what looks likely to be bitterly divisive 2015 polls.
He also said that the bank banned currency importation into Nigeria without prior approval to stem abuses.
According to him, the CBN had noticed a surge in demand for dollars at the forex bureaus in July, which showed that something was amiss after several months of spending huge resources to defend the naira and ensure its stability.
This has also dealt a heavy blow on the nation’s foreign reserves currently at an eight-month low, he added.
Last weekend also, the apex bank revoked the operating licences of 20 bureaus-de-change as part of measures to curb foreign exchange abuses in the sub-sector.
It then issued new guidelines to ensure closer monitoring of transactions in the market.
Sanusi blamed the “dollarisation of the economy by political elite” for continued weakness of the naira.
This, he lamented, was despite the CBN’s moves to prop it up with dollar sales that have depleted its reserves to an eight-month low.
The naira closed at N161.55 to the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, which according to Bloomberg report on Monday, fell 1.1 per cent, representing the biggest fall since January 2012.