Dr Adeola Adeyemi
Monday AUGUST 2021
It is quite pathetic and worrisome to hear the recent foreign currency policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the leadership of its Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele. The policy which is that CBN will stop giving Bureau De Change outlets foreign currency is capable of completely destroying many businesses and households. This anti-economic cum financial policy is coming amidst obvious economic challenges occasioned by poor financial policies of CBN, economic recession and COVID-19 pandemic.
It would be recalled that the country slid into economic recession a few months after Emefiele assumed office as CBN Governor in 2014. Since then till date, Emefiele has shown that he lacks the knowledge and experience to turn around the country’s economy and finances for good.
One can say without mincing words that for Emefiele, being the CBN governor is all about making policies about the foreign exchange that will be of personal benefit to the banks and his paymasters in foreign exchange related businesses.
This is most times to the detriment of the economy and the rest of Nigerians, especially the middle class and downtrodden.
This is not surprising considering that Emefiele was appointed into CBN from Zenith bank. So, it is a case of him protecting his personal interest and that of his allies in the banking sector without minding the adverse multiplier effect on the citizens and economy at large.
Zenith bank which has phobia and hatred for anything Bureau De Change became so strong and comfortable with Emefiele’s elevation. Zenith bank as early as the inception of Bureau De Change never agreed to open a corporate account for BDCs. It doesn’t also issue instruments in favour of BDCs. This is the prejudice and bias Emefiele took to the CBN. Upon assumption of office as CBN governor he made nonsense of domiciliary account by putting in place policies that took Nigerians backwards.
Domiciliary account holders would travel abroad with their foreign exchange debit cards only to find out that they could only access maximum of $300 in a day. The cost of hotel accommodation, feeding and others is none of Emefiele’s concern or worry. A lot of micro, small and medium business enterprises that hitherto put money together and import a forty feet container have been put out of business as a result of deliberate policies of banks supported by CBN to frustrate them and their businesses.
This is in an environment that unemployment is fuelling all sorts of problems and increasing the crime rate.
The CBN before now has been hitting the BDCs below the belt. The apex bank would just pick some BDCs at random and sanction them and make them pay #5m each for an offence only known to the CBN. The latest allegation against the BDCs is that they are laundering money. What is the volume of foreign exchange given to the BDCs as a percentage of the whole? It is a very insignificant and infinitesimal amount.
Assuming without conceding that some BDCs launder money, is that enough reason for CBN to put the entire people in the sector of the economy out of business without weighing the grave consequences? Is there no way CBN can curb such illicit activity if any exist? A Bureau De Change employs at least four persons. Each person has at least four dependants. It is clear that to the CBN governor, there is nothing wrong in throwing away the baby with the bathwater.
It would be recalled that Prof. Charles Soludo was at a time the governor of CBN and the economy thrived. Please can someone advise Emefiele to search his office filing cabinet for some memos by Prof Solude, especially those that relate to foreign exchange policies? No doubt, Emefiele will learn some lessons.
Today the exchange rate of dollar to naira is #515 as against the #503 few days ago that the BDCs were in operation. So even out of business BDCs are still making the exchange rate to go up?
Haba, Emefiele and his team should wake up from slumber and hallucination and proffer a lasting solution to the financial cum economic woes of the country. BDCs are not the causes of rising inflation and dwindling economy. They should not be used as sacrificial lamb by Emefiele and CBN. BDCs have been supportive of the CBN policies and the country’s economy. They have provided succour and assistance to the people when it mattered most. They are genuine and legal business entities like every other one in the country.
Shutting the door behind them means adding more woes to the country’s dwindling economy. It is time the leadership of the country call Emefiele to order because he is destroying the fragile and struggling economy of the country which he had failed to fix since emerging as CBN Governor. Silence is not golden at this point. It is not only about the BDCs, it is about Nigerians and the survival of their economy.
Adeyemi, an economic analyst, wrote in from Broad Street, Lagos.
A multimedia professional with about two decades experience in visual and text journalism.