The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed that the central bank frittered away a whopping $66 billion over an 11-year period funding Bureau de Change (BDC) operators, blaming this as one of the several policies that led to the erosion of Nigeria’s foreign reserves and is partly to blame for the economic crisis in the country today.
Speaking to journalists at the weekend, Emefiele recalled that in September 2008, Nigeria’s foreign reserves stood at $62 billion when crude prices peaked at $147 per barrel, noting however that rather than save the money or invest it in infrastructure and industry for wealth creation, previous governments embarked on frivolous spending, disclosing that in 11 years, Nigeria spent $66 billion funding BDC operators.
He said: “In September 2008, Nigeria’s foreign reserves stood at $62 billion. But what did we do with $62 billion at a time crude price was in excess of $120 per barrel?
“What we could have done was to save the money, if we couldn’t save the money, invest it in infrastructure and industry that will create productivity and wealth for our people.
“Instead, the central bank at that time went about licensing Class A, Class B and Class C bureau de change operators. For Class A BDCs, the central bank was allocating $1 million per week, for Class B, the CBN was allocating $750,000 per week and for class C BDCs, the central bank was allocating $500,000 per week. The CBN was among one of the few central banks in the world allocating dollar cash for BDC operations.”
He revealed that between 2005 and January 2016 when it was stopped, the CBN had disbursed $66 billion to fund the cash operations of BDCs in Nigeria.
“What that meant was that in 11 years, we spent $66 billion funding the operations of BDCs which came to an average of $6 billion a year. If we had thought of other ways to utilise our reserve, especially in 2008 when our reserves were as high as $62 billion, certainly we will not be where we are today,” said the visibly agitated Emefiele.
The CBN boss, who recalled his worst experience as the chief executive of Zenith Bank Plc and how he was punished for not participating in funding of BDC operations, said: “We had a situation where at that time, as the MD of Zenith Bank, there was a deputy governor of the central bank that would call to query me as to why I was not coming to the central bank to collect dollar cash to sell to BDCs.
“I was informed that some people in Port Harcourt, Lagos and Kano were calling to complain that Zenith Bank was not selling dollar cash to BDCs, but of course the bank did not see any serious need to sell dollar cash for BDC operations at that time. So that was what we did with part of the $62 billion foreign reserves.
“Between 2009 and 2014, you remember in 2009 when we had the crisis, when it started with the Lehman Brothers collapse, America pumped a lot of money to stimulate its economy and as a result of that, money flowed into emerging markets including Nigeria.
“At that time again, Nigeria removed all forms of captive controls to encourage the flow of capital into Nigeria. So what happened during that time was that for five straight years, we saw crude prices at above $105 per barrel on the average for five straight years.
“In that period, we also saw flow of capital into emerging markets including Nigeria. So we should have at that time built our reserves but we did not, and these were some of the actions they took at the central bank that got us where we are today.”
Buhari Declares Oct 1 Public Holiday
The Federal Government has declared Thursday, October 1, 2020, as a public holiday to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made the declaration, congratulated all Nigerians on the celebration of the country’s Diamond Jubilee while stressing the government’s commitment to the socio-economic transformation of the country.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘FG Declares Thursday, October 1, 2020, Public Holiday To Mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary’ and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah.
According to the statement, the minister praised Nigerians for the feats in economy, education, the creative sector, amongst others.
The statement also quoted Aregbesola as saying, “Though celebrating sixty years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act cautiously, we cannot avoid the imperative of a low-keyed celebration at this time.”
It added, “While wishing Nigerians a fruitful independence celebration, he reminded them of the fact that our founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe and tongue came together for Nigeria’s independence.”
INEC To Introduce E-voting, Talking to Machine Manufacturers
INEC Commences Process of Introducing E-voting, Discussing With Manufacturers
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said it has commenced plans to replace manual voting with an electronic voting system.
According to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this during the demonstration of electronic voting machines, the commission has invited manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world to demonstrate how the machines work and preparatory to the full migration.
He said, “Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.
“In addition, the combination of biometric voter cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter Card and the Smart Card Reader have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.
“Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.”
Yakubu explained that more than 40 companies have indicated interest and would be demonstrating to the commission how the IT solutions meet its specifications.
“The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of the EVMs in elections in earnest,” the INEC chairman said.
Mali Sworn In Bah Ndaw as Transition President
Mali’s interim president, Bah Ndaw, chosen to head a transitional government following a coup last month, was sworn in during ceremonies in the capital Bamako on Friday, AFP journalists witnessed.
A committee appointed by the junta which seized power on August 18, toppling President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, selected Ndaw, a 70-year-old retired colonel, as interim president.
Ndaw is due to lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.
Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.
The ceremony on Friday took place in a theatre filled with officials dressed in military fatigues, senior judges, and foreign diplomats.
During the ceremony, Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Boya Dembele said the challenges facing both men were “enormous”.
“It will truly require a reformulation of the state,” said the judge, dressed in red fur-lined robes.
The swearing-in comes as the fragile Sahel state’s neighbours have leaned on the military junta to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) slapped sanctions on the poor country on August 20 to push for a swift return to civilian rule.
A decision by the bloc on whether to ease the measure is possible on Friday, according to former Nigerian president and ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan.
“We are optimistic that this event will signal the beginning of the return to normalcy in Mali,” he said on Twitter on Thursday night, referring to the swearing in of interim-government leaders.
Last month’s coup followed weeks of mass protests against Keita, spurred by frustrations over a brutal jihadist conflict, perceived corruption and the country’s slumping economy.
Mali has struggled to quell an eight-year-old Islamist insurgency which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.
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