Nwokoma Charges Cardoso to Stop Political Interference in FX Market

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By Dipo Olowookere

A professor of Financial Economics at the Department of Economics of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Mr Ndubisi Nwokoma, has tasked the nominee for the position of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Yemi Cardoso, to stop political interference in the foreign exchange (FX) market.

The don gave this charge when he appeared as a guest on Arise TV’s breakfast programme, The Morning Show, on Monday, monitored by Business Post.

He said the suspended CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, allowed politicians to contribute to the crisis in the forex market today, saying he was not bold enough to say no to them.

According to Mr Nwokoma, the weakening of the Naira against the United States Dollar under the tenure of Mr Emefiele in eight years was worse, pointing out that having the Naira at about N200/$1 in 2015 and N950/$1 in 2023 is not acceptable and good for any economy.

“There are many questions about political interference in (the use of forex); where a particular big company will come and get a huge allocation of FX.

“The new CBN Governor must make sure such thing does not arise [again] because before Emefiele came on board, under (Charles) Soludo (the current Governor of Anambra State) and (Lamido) Sanusi, we had stability in the exchange rate.

“As of 2011 and 2012, we can say the exchange rate was like N150/$1, but when (Goodluck) Jonathan left office (as President of Nigeria in 2015), it was N197/$1; in the past eight years, we have had instability [in the forex market].

“In my view, there had been a lot of political interferences in the FX market; that is an area the new Governor will have to look at; minimise political interference, where people just come because they know somebody somewhere and get undue forex allocation, creating scarcity for those who genuinely forex.

“The exchange rate is a price tied to two factors; supply and demand. If the supply is shrinking because it is being cornered, then it can affect the rate. At the moment, we are talking about N940/$1 and N950/$1; it is unheard of, from N197/$1 or N200/$1 in 2015, over a period of eight years, that should never happen in any economy.

“There is no way that won’t affect the prices because of the imported input; Nigerians import a lot of things. The new CBN Governor will have to look into this,” Mr Nwokoma, who is also the Director of the Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research, stated.

Speaking on the competence of Mr Cardoso, Mr Nwokoma said the former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos State is not a round peg in a round hole, noting that the role should have been given to someone with monetary policy experience and not someone with a fiscal background.

“If you take a look at the functions of the CBN, the first is to issue legal tender currency, the second is to maintain external reserves that will support the value of the currency, and the third is to maintain monetary and price stability.

“Cardoso has been a banker and a stockbroker; we should begin to look into having a former Deputy CBN Governor to head the central bank, like Tunde Lemo, though I am not speaking for him,” he said.

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