Foreign currency speculators, who launched an unprecedented attack against the naira in the last two weeks, got their fingers burnt on Tuesday when the nation’s currency staged a major recovery, rising to N310 to a dollar at the close of business, compared to N375 at which it sold on Monday.
The naira fell to an all-time low of about N400 to a dollar on the parallel market last week fuelling concerns that it would plummet further to N450-N500/$ this week.
But findings showed that the naira defied expectations, climbing to as high as N305 to the dollar at some parallel market points in Lagos on Tuesday afternoon, before settling at N310.
Forex dealers and currency analysts attributed the significant gain on the parallel market to excess supply of the greenback in the market, even as it looked like a lot of speculators lost the shirts on their back.
A reliable source that speculators who thought that by attacking the currency last week, coupled with misplaced concerns that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was going to stop the allocation of forex for school fees and medical bills abroad, this would compel the central bank and President Muhammadu Buhari to alter their stance against the devaluation of the currency.
But they were disappointed when Buhari, in Egypt at the weekend, adamantly ruled out the devaluation of the naira on the grounds that Nigeria does not have the competitive advantage to benefit from an official currency adjustment.
Reacting to the president’s stance, speculators who had been betting that the naira would depreciate further, started dumping the dollars with reckless abandon, effectively creating excess supply of the greenback in the parallel market.
Commenting on the situation in the secondary forex market, the chairman, Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said: “The market is moving from perception to reality.”
Similarly, an analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, predicted that the naira would edge higher in the coming days.
“We expect that the naira would appreciate further. We have always said that what happened last week was purely a speculative attack.
Some people felt that if they pushed the naira down to that level, they could force the CBN to devalue, so that when the naira is devalued and the gap widens further, they would now bring out the dollar cash to make a kill,” Ezun said.
He however urged the fiscal authorities to introduce policies that would help stimulate economic activities, saying that the fundamentals of the economy were still weak.
ABCON also aligned with the federal government’s decision not to further devalue the naira.
Gwadabe said this at a media briefing, pointing out that devaluing the naira would create more problems than it would solve.
He said that as a way of enhancing transparency in the BDC sub-sector, his association had decided to introduce a forex rate band weekly.
This rate band is expected to serve as a guide for all BDCs and the public on the prevailing exchange rate across the country, he added.
In addition, it will be operated in line with the regulated forex rate in the economy.
“This is to forestall exploitation of forex end users, and also to ensure that end users are informed to avoid falling victims of exploitation.
“The band will be announced via weekly press releases that will be circulated to the media for publication.
“ABCON will introduce a series of measures aimed at transforming the operations of BDCs in Nigeria to align with global best practices. These include: review and updating of BDC operational manual; introduction of live trading platforms; automation of all transactions and documentation requirements; and increased partnership with the CBN and other relevant agencies.
“Further, as part of its responsibility as a self regulatory organisation (SRO), and also in continuation of its aim to transform its members to compete within the global regulatory currency market, ABCON will seek the approval of relevant monetary and fiscal authorities as well as partnership for effective use of the nation’s external reserves to enhance domestic trade and foreign exchange management.”
“To this end, our website and internet platforms will be developed to position BDCs to serve as agents of Western Union and currency auctioneers.”
“We would also develop platforms that will allow our members to access sources of autonomous foreign exchange like govt agencies, embassies, IOCs and export proceeds, etc,” he explained.
He also urged the federal government to introduce policies that would diversify the economy to increase non-oil export earnings, and reduce imports.
This, according to him, would lead to increased foreign exchange inflow and a reduction in demand for foreign exchange.
In addition to policies that would diversify the economy, ABCON suggested that the CBN should review the policy of dollar importation into the economy for the purpose of defending the naira.
According to the association, the central bank should introduce a policy whereby the naira is used to intervene in the real sectors of the economy to boost productivity.
Furthermore, Gwadabe said as a way of reducing demand for dollars, the CBN should explore the option of promoting the use and acceptability of naira for transactions within the West African sub-region.
He added: “We observe that this is already happening at the level of informal trading activities within the sub-region, and it is our belief that this can be replicated at the level of formal economic activities.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Mr. Atedo Peterside, has expressed concern over the uncertainty arising from the federal government’s foreign exchange policy, warning that it is threatening macroeconomic stability in the country and is unsustainable.
He stated this yesterday at the 2016 Standard Bank West Africa Investors’ Conference tagged, “Unlocking Nigeria’s Potential…Growth through Diversification”.
He said the federal government’s foreign exchange policy is the biggest uncertainty facing the country today following the lack of economic policy direction and the likely composition of Buhari’s economic team for much of the third and fourth quarters of last year.
According to him, “The argument at stake is not whether to devalue or not because there has already been an effective devaluation.
“The naira prices of various capital goods are now being ‘correctly’ priced purely on the basis of realistic expected replacement costs and so the economy is sliding towards an unpalatable scenario where the consumer suffers the ‘pains’ of devaluation (rising prices) without witnessing any of the expected ‘gains’ such as enhanced fiscal viability (in local currency terms at least) of the three tiers of government and increased competitiveness of Nigerian businesses.”
Peterside stressed that the much-craved economic diversification could only take place meaningfully if new capital investment activity takes place to take maximum advantage of increased domestic competitiveness.
“Sadly, most investors here – local and foreign – are currently caught up in a frenzied pursuit of the cheapest available dollars and the difference between losing this game and winning it can be as high as a mind-boggling 50 per cent on new transactions.
“The pursuit of scarce forex for today’s needs has understandably become the main game in town and this has exacerbated the pressures on Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves and the naira via the one-way bet that is currently on against the naira, that is, everybody wants to take foreign exchange out and nobody really wants to bring it in,” he added.
He further stated that the excitement caused by the important development in Nigeria’s political landscape last year, where a change in government occurred at the federal level after a keenly contested election, has given way to some apprehension surrounding whether a populist government can take the necessary tough economic policy actions that are necessary to restore confidence and stimulate badly needed new investment activity.
CBN Freezes Another 194 Accounts of firms, BDCs, Others
The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday said it got orders from the Federal High Court, Abuja division, to freeze 194 bank accounts belonging to firms and Bureaux de Change to enable it to conduct investigations into suspicious activities.
It disclosed this on Thursday in three separate documents on its website.
In one of the documents, the CBN said it got an order to freeze 60 bank accounts of Bluebeam Capital Limited.
The accounts were domiciled in 13 different banks, the CBN as the plaintiff stated.
Bluebeam, as the respondent had eight accounts each in Access Bank and Keystone Bank; seven each in First Bank and Ecobank; five each in UBA and GTBank; four each in Fidelity Bank, FCMB and Sterling Bank; three accounts in Polaris Bank; two each in Wema Bank and Heritage Bank; and one in Providus Bank.
In another document, the CBN said it got an order to freeze 84 accounts in 17 banks.
The third document revealed that the banking regulator had the court order to freeze 50 accounts domiciled in different banks.
The motions exparte which were signed on different dates sought the orders of the court to direct the banks to freeze all other bank accounts of the defendants for a period of 180 days, pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry being conducted by the CBN.
In the document signed by the Presiding Judge, A.R. Mohammed, the court empowered the CBN to direct the banks to freeze all the bank accounts for a period of 45 days only, pending the outcome of the investigation.
It added that the order may be extended upon good reasons shown.
Any person aggrieved by this order could apply to the court to have the order set aside, discharged or have the order reviewed upon good reasons without waiting for the 45 days to lapse, the document stated.
The CBN on Wednesday disclosed it got an order to freeze 11 bank accounts to enable it conduct investigations into suspicious activities.
It had listed the names of the defendants/respondents as Albert Austin Ugochukwu with two bank accounts; Belfour Energy & Allied Services; Belfour Oil and Gas Limited with three bank accounts; Circle Flow Integrated Services; Kacynaus Reality Nigeria Limited with three bank accounts; and Tasmara Integrated Services.
Insider Dealing: Henry Oroh, An Executive Director of Zenith Bank, Acquires N46.982 Million Worth of Zenith Bank Shares
Henry Oro, an executive director of Zenith Bank Plc, has dumped N46.982 million on shares of Zenith Bank, according to the latest filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The executive director purchased Zenith Bank’s shares of 724,527 on April 1st, 2021 at N22.05 each or N15.976 million.
On April 6th, Oroh added 612,573 shares at N22 a unit and another 400,000 units at N21.90 per share.
On the same day, he purchased another 400,000 units at N21.90 a share. Bringing aggregate purchase on April 6th to 1,412,573 at an average price of N21.95 a unit or N31.006 million.
Henry Oroh has spent a total of N46.982 million on Zenith shares in April.
Henry Oroh was appointed as Zenith Bank’s executive director on September 1st, 2019 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Benin, Edo State and an MBA from the Lagos State University as well as an LLB Degree from the University of London.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN), Nigeria.
He has over two decades of banking experience. He began his banking career in 1992 at Citibank where he served for seven (7) years in Operations, Treasury and Marketing.
He joined Zenith Bank in February 1999 and has worked in various Groups and Departments within the Zenith Group Office. His expertise spans Operations, Information Technology, Treasury, Marketing, including the Manufacturing, Food and Beverages, Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, Public Sector, Consumer, as well as Corporate Banking and Business Development.
In April 2012, he was seconded to Zenith Bank Ghana Limited as an Executive Director and became the Managing Director/ Chief Executive in February 2016, where he successfully spearheaded the phenomenal growth of the Zenith Brand both within the Ghana market and the West African sub-region.
Henry has attended several Leadership Programmes and Executive Management Courses at the Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, New York, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, HEC Paris, JP Morgan Chase, UK and the Lagos Business School.
He comes to the Board of Zenith Bank Plc with strong competencies in Credit & Marketing, Operations, Information Technology, Treasury and impressive Leadership skills.
Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Adopts Virtual Audience For 10km Runners
In a bid to ensure the health and safety of all runners and essential service workers amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the title sponsors of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Access Bank PLC, has announced that the Lagos City Marathon will be held virtually for interested 10km runners this year.
The marathon, scheduled for April 10, 2021 can only accommodate 300 runners in line with the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Athletics and the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
Speaking on the development, Access Bank’s Executive Director of Retail Banking, Victor Etuokwu said, “Our primary consideration is the health and safety of participants, attendees and staff that will be a part of the Lagos City Marathon. This is why we decided to have an exclusive virtual event – that allows participants from all over the world to run the race wherever they are.
‘’While we regret that we can’t host the live 10km race and fanfare that have become synonymous with the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, we continue to stand with the other sponsors to preserve public health as we look forward to hosting a successful marathon. We implore all well-meaning Lagosians to please adhere to the movement guidelines put in place by the Lagos State Government to ensure that the marathon fulfills its purpose of positively placing Lagos and indeed the whole of Africa on the global map,” he concluded.
Though audience participation may have changed, the organisers have also announced that the race route will largely remain the same. Runners will begin the race from the National Stadium, Surulere, opposite Teslim Balogun Stadium and finish at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island.
Now in its sixth edition, the Silver – Labelled Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has featured over 200,000 registered athletes from over 12 participating countries collectively covering a distance of 42,000 kilometers.
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