CBN Sells $210m As Naira Depreciate To 365/Dollar

The Central Bank of Nigeria has improved the inter-bank foreign exchange market with the sum of $210m, to meet customers’ requests in various segments of the market.

This came after the naira dropped marginally to 365/dollar at the parallel market on Monday, from 364/dollar on Friday.

In the past one week, the local currency had traded for 364/dollar

CBN data showed that the regulator sold the sum of $210m on Monday.

The CBN offered $100m to authorised dealers in the wholesale segment of the market, while the Small and Medium Enterprises segment got the sum of $55m, according to figures obtained from the bank on Monday.

The figures also indicated that customers needing foreign exchange for invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance, among others, were also allocated the sum of $55m.

The bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, reiterated the bank’s determination to continue to intervene in the interbank foreign exchange market, in line with its pledge to sustain liquidity in the market and maintain stability.

According to him, the CBN will continue to manage the forex with a view to reducing the country’s import bills and minimize depletion of foreign reserves.

The CBN intervened in the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales to the tune of $210m, to cater for requests in the airlines, agricultural, petroleum products and raw materials and machinery sectors.

EDITORIAL: Workers And Paris Club Refunds

At a time several states are nearly at a tipping point financially, the prospect of an imminent cash rain ought to stoke some excitement. So it was on Monday when President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, Minister of Economic Planning and Budget, Udoma Udo Udoma and Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun to negotiate with the governors, with a view to settling their outstanding Paris Club refunds. For long-suffering workers across the states of the federation and the governors most of who have been (sometimes) needlessly maligned over a crisis that was not their making, it comes as a soothing balm to their pains.

Yet again, it is a season of great expectations – and potentially one of restiveness, particularly of workers and pensioners. Indeed, there are, already, countless proposals on what the funds should be used for. A somewhat preponderant position would appear to suggest that the refunds should be deployed to clear the arrears of wages and pensions in the states – as if that is all there is to the business of governance.

Just like the last previous interventions, we must again warn at the temptation to substitute a palliative or placebo for therapy. Clearly, if there are any lessons to be taken from the earlier interventions, it is the fact that the problems facing the states as a whole are far deeper, in fact, more complex, than any superficial interventions – no matter how many multiple times – can solve.

Fact is – the states aren’t getting anything that they should not ordinarily be entitled to were to be a truly functional federation. Whether it is the so-called bailout or refund of the overpayment on the Paris Club loans, the states should ordinarily be able to enjoy such fiscal leeway as befitting their status as federating entities – drawing upon the federal support only in situations of grave emergencies. To the extent that the latest crisis is itself a derivative of dysfunctions of our federalism, it seems only inevitable that the federal government will be called up when necessary to solve the structural mess – until such a time the basis of the problem is dealt with.

This of course takes us to the perennial restiveness of the workers.

Clearly, while the workers in particular may have been badly hit by the current crisis, the idea that the entire cash be handed out to them to clear the arrears of wages seems, quite frankly, ludicrous. Agreed, the workers deserve their due; but so does the rest of the citizens – farmers, artisans, market men and women and non-wage workers – deserve to be served from the same pot not just because their welfare also depend on that, but because the ability of the state to renew itself as a way to guarantee its future prosperity is assured only when portion of that cash is invested in physical infrastructure. That is the way to go.

What the times therefore call for is proper understanding. Neither the time to raise unnecessary expectations nor should it be an occasion for blackmail or needless stoking of tensions. With good faith on the side of the workers and the state governments, it should be possible to forge necessary compromises to ensure that the states move forward. To the extent that the current challenges tug at the heart of the lopsided federal practice which deny the states of their just dues as one would expect in a true federation, it has become inevitable to re-balance the Nigerian federation by devolving both economic and political powers to the states, to ensure that they are less beholden to the centre, and to make them truly productive as against sharing entities.

CBN Spends N6bn On ABU Business School

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spent about N6 billion to establish a business school in the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, made this known on Saturday at ABU’s 40th convocation ceremony held at its main campus, Samaru, Zaria.

Garba said that the business school had begun as a faculty, covering Accounting, Business Administration and Economics Departments.

The vice said that the development gave room for expansion of the departments and introduction of related academic programmes.

He said that the ABU’s Faculty of Medicine had been transformed into ABU College of Health Sciences and headed by a provost.

“The college has taken off with four faculties of Basic Clinical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Basic Medical Sciences and Allied Health Sciences.

“Along with this development is the commencement of three new academic programmes beginning from 2017/2018 session.

“These are Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences and B.Sc. Medical Radiography,” he said.

The vice-chancellor said that the university had introduced e-learning methodology in academic delivery to tackle growth in the number of students.

Garba said that the e-learning was in line with developments in pedagogy and technology.

He said that ABU last year introduced four additional courses in its Department of Mechanical Engineering.

He said that the university had continued to improve and expand the existing facilities for teaching and research within the limit of available resources.

Garba said that the university was using Tertiary Education Trust Fund and Presidential Need Assessment Intervention Fund to execute the projects.

The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr Maikanti Kachalla-Baru, said at the occasion that he was impressed by the performance of 50 of the graduating students who had first class degree in different fields.

He announced NNPC’s scholarship up to PhD level for the overall best student with Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.93, Mr Al-Amin Bashir-Bugaje from Electrical Engineering Department.

“NNPC will sponsor him fully to wherever he wants to study in this world up to PhD. Level,” he said.

Kamchatka-Baru said that NNPC had been at the forefront of fostering education in Nigeria.

Earlier in an address of welcome, the ABU Chancellor, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, said: “Since my installation as the Chancellor of this university on Nov. 1, 2015, I have found this university to be vibrant and promising.

“It has enormous human and material resources and a number of specialised research institutes, particularly agro-based ones.

“These institutes include the Institute for Agricultural Research, National Animal Production Research Institute and National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services.’’

He said that the institutes had over the years made significant contributions to the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy.


MPC Retains Lending Rate At 14%

Nigeria’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate at 14 percent on Tuesday and said the recovery of Africa’s biggest economy from its first recession in a generation remained fragile.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said eight committee members had voted to hold the main rate, while one voted for a cut. All other policy parameters were kept unchanged.

“Inflation in particular requires very close monitoring to gain clarity on the medium-term optimum path of monetary policy,” Emefiele told a news conference.

All 15 analysts polled last week said rates would be held at 14 percent, with cuts of up to 100 basis points expected in either July or September 2018.

Official data on Tuesday showed growth of just 1.4 percent in the third quarter.

Among other risks for Nigeria, Emefiele cited low fiscal buffers.

The OPEC member’s economy shrank by 1.5 percent in 2016, its first annual contraction in 25 years. The recession was largely caused by low oil prices since the country relies on crude oil sales for around two-thirds of government revenue.

“Mr. Emefiele’s hints about future monetary easing were pretty clear. It seems that policymakers are waiting for a more substantial fall in inflation before starting to lower interest rates,” said Capital Economics analyst William Jackson.

Inflation is slowing but remained at an elevated 16 percent on an annual basis in October. At the media conference Governor Emefiele said he was optimistic consumer price-growth would moderate to one-digit levels in 2018.

“Bad Market” For Internet Fraudsters

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has claimed success in checking Internet fraudsters in the banking sector through various measures to prevent hacking into customers’ accounts.

Speaking at the 2017 retreat of the Nigerian Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) held in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, the deputy governor of the apex bank in charge of operations, Mr. Bayo Adelabu, said the bank would continue to sanitise the financial sector.

The event was attended by top officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), U.S Consulate, Lagos, Consumers Protection Council (CPC) and some commercial banks.

Chairman, Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum, Dipo Fatokun said with the bank verification number in place, biometrics would soon be used for transactions. “That means if you want to transact with your ATM, you will need to use your biometrics. There is no way you can give your finger to a third party. If that is enabled, it will make our system to be more secure and make all our transactions to be validated.”

Adelabu, in his keynote address, said in the age of digitalization and increased adoption of alternate forms of payment for goods and services, stakeholders must ensure security of operators and the consumers they intend to serve.

The CBN commended the feats recorded in the last six years by NeFF, noting that the organization in collaboration with other stakeholders has successfully implemented the Cybercrime Prohibition and Prevention Act 2015.

According to him, the retreat has re-enforced greater synergy among the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the forum and the entire payments industry.

“At the CBN, we shall continue to ensure a safe, reliable, secure and efficient payment system, and our commitments will neither waiver nor dampen in this regard.”

On the future of the banking industry, he said what is lost to fraud has progressively reduced in the last three years. “It is safe to say that the fraudsters industry is not only in recession, but will hopefully never recover, based on the strategies this retreat will fashion out for the fight against e-fraud in Nigeria,” the CBN official said.


CBN Targets $40bn External Reserves, Single Digit Inflation, Reduced Interest Rate in 2018

The Central Bank of Nigeria has said
the country’s external reserves, which had faced daunting challenges since the wake of the fall in oil prices in June 2014, would grow to $40bn next year from $34.3bn as of November 3, 2017.

Chief of the apex bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele hinged his forecasts, which was released at the annual dinner of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), on the foreign exchange and exchange rate management policies of the apex bank in recent months, which has led to a drop of 65 per cent in the monthly food import bill of the country from an average of $5.5bn to $1.9bn as of June 2017.

He also said “We have also seen a significant appreciation of the naira from over N500/$1 to about N360/$1. In addition, we have seen stability in the rate for over six months now. I am glad to note that the exchange rate is not only stable, it is also converging across various windows and segments of the market.

“Since the establishment of the I&E Window, we have recorded about $10bn in autonomous inflows through this window alone.

“This reflects the effect of the increased transparency which that window accords the FX market and its benign impact of improving investors’ confidence and business sentiments. Our reserves have recovered significantly from a low of just over $23bn in October 2016 to over $34.3bn as of November 3, 2017.

“Today, among the benefits of that policy is the considerable decline in our import bills. From an average of about $5.5bn, our monthly import bill has fallen consistently to $2.1bn in 2016 and $1.9bn by half year 2017. This is indeed commendable.”

Mr Emefiele disclosed that the CBN may ease the benchmark interest rate come down from the current 14 per cent as this will open an avenue for more loans at lower interest rates from banks to companies.

According to him, the nation’ inflation rate might drop from the current 15.98 per cent to a single digit.

Emefiele however caitioned that although the current developments in macro-economy were welcomed, leaders and policymakers must become neither complacent nor over-confident. He said “I expect that barring any unforeseen shocks, inflationary pressure will continue to ease; I believe that it may return to very low double-digit or high single-digit levels during the next year. Though the base effect had diminished, I expect that as the socio-economic factors that are driving food inflation are resolved, the inertia therein would dissipate and the pace of headline disinflation will grow.

“Foreign exchange reserves will continue to grow. Over the last 12 months, Nigeria’s FX reserves grew by over $10bn from just over $23bn in October 2016 to over $33bn in October 2017. It is my belief that if we remain resolute with our efforts, policies and actions, we can attain an FX reserve position of about $40bn by end 2018.

“Exchange rate stability will continue. As we entrench and sustain the transparency in the FX market, as FX reserves accretion continues, and market confidence and improved sentiments remain, I expect that the exchange rate will not only be stable but would begin to appreciate against major currencies.

“The adverse competitiveness outcome, which such appreciation may entail, would be adequately mitigated by proactive policies to ensure that our balance of payments position is not undermined.

“Monetary policy stance could change when the underlying fundamentals become supportive. If the pace of disinflation becomes adequate and we see inflation at predicted levels, I am very optimistic that MPC may begin to see strong justification for an easing of monetary policy, which may further accelerate the recovery process.”

Nigeria’s External Reserves Hits $34bn – CBN

The Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in charge of Financial System Stability, Joseph Nnanna, has said Nigeria’s external reserves have hit $34bn from $33.6bn attained on October 25.

The reserves have been appreciating very fast after hitting $32bn on September 18.

Nnanna, who disclosed the latest figure in Lagos during the weekend while fielding questions from journalists at a forum organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, said the exchange rate stability achieved so far by the apex bank had come to stay.

He expressed confidence that the usual end-of-the-year rush would not push up the naira-dollar exchange rate contrary to some people’s expectations.

Asked if the exchange rate would go up as the end of the year was approaching, Nnanna said, “No, the rate will not go up, take it from me. We have achieved stability and the stability is here to stay.

“The sustainability is already evident, the reserves are growing. As I speak, the reserves are $34bn. When we had volatility, the reserves were as low as $20bn. But let me say one thing: Nigeria can make do with a reserve level of $20bn but it is the press who gives the impression that if the reserves fall below $30bn, then there is a problem.

“No, there is no problem. All we need to manage the economy and manage it properly is reserves that can cover at least three months of import. And in fact, as it is, $10bn or $12bn can give us reserve coverage of four months.”

The CBN chief said the Investors and Exporters foreign exchange window had performed beyond the bank’s expectations, adding that forex inflows in the past few months were huge.
Nnanna stated, “Our exchange rate is convergent; we are getting southward. In the IMF, they talk about the need to have one rate. The one rate can happen organically or inorganically.
For us at the CBN, we believe that organic convergence is the way to go. Inorganic convergence, which is forced, will always produce an arbitrage and that we don’t want.”



Source: Daily Post

Nigeria’s Inflation Rate To Hit Single-Digit Mid-Next Year

Godwin Emefiele the Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor said on Friday said he expected the inflation rate to fall at a faster pace and hit high single-digit rates a mid-next year.

“We are very optimistic that food prices will come down and as they come down, it will help to complement the reduction in core inflation,” Emefiele told journalists on the sidelines of an investment conference at the London Stock Exchange.

“I expected a more aggressive moderation.

“We are hoping that by the middle of next year we should begin to approach the high single digits,” he said, adding that around nine percent would be a good target.

Annual inflation in Nigeria slowed for an eighth month in September, easing to 15.98 per cent.


N8bn Scam: Court Refuses Suspects Bail

The Ibadan Federal High Court On Tuesday Thursday refused the bail applications filed by the seven accused persons standing trial over alleged N8 billion currency scam.

The accused are; Kolawole Babalola, Muniru Olaniran, Kayode Togun, Isiaq Akano, Festus Adeyemi, Akeem Oyebanji and Ayodele Alese.Justice Joyce Abdulmaleek in a ruling turned down the applications believing that the accused might jump bail and refuse to show up for trial.

“I have previously refused similar bail application and I know that the only option left for the applicants is to appeal the decision of the court.

“The accused persons have also failed to convince this court that their ailment was contagious even though they said that the medical facilities in the prison were not adequate to cater for their deteriorating health.

“In exercising my discretionary power, I see the possibility of the accused persons jumping bail if granted bail.

“Therefore, the application for bail is refused and dismissed accordingly,” she ruled.

After the ruling, the judge adjourned the case till Nov. 21, for the continuation of trial.

Earlier, Mr R. O. Sadiq, counsel to all the applicants had tendered a bail application, citing deplorable health conditions of his clients as a reason for the bail application.

Sadiq had asked the court to consider various portions of the constitution as well as the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in her decision.

Mr Adebisi Adeniyi, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), however, opposed the bail application, saying the accused persons might jump bail.

Adeniyi also reminded the court that it had rejected all previous bail applications tendered by the accused.

Similarly, the court also turned the bail application tendered by one Esther Olunike-Afolabi in a sister case.

Olunike-Afolabi was earlier convicted and jailed in the case when she opted for plea bargain arrangement with the EFCC.

Due to her involvement in another case, she was produced in court, but her bail was rejected.

Meanwhile, in another sister case, Mr Eddwin Ennah, a former Head of Currency Processing and Disposal Unit, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Ibadan office, who testified in the case, said he was shocked to see newspapers cut to the size of Naira notes in a box meant to contain N10 million.

Testifying before Abdulmaleek, Ennah stated that the box was supposed to be containing N10 million made up of N500 notes all through, however, the box was interleaved with N100 notes and cut papers.

“My lord, another terrible thing during that box inspection period was when our then Branch Controller asked us to cover up that discovery.

“However, I disagreed with him.

“The Branch Controller asked each of us to contribute a certain amount to make up the loss sum in the box that was interleaved,” Ennah told the court.

The witness further pointed out that election fraud was not the only avenue of great corruption in Nigeria, but also that several billions of Naira were usually lost to such exercise at the CBN.

Babalola, Olaniran and Togun along with others have since 2015 been facing multiple charges bordering on conspiracy, conversion, forgery, recirculation of mutilated currencies and stealing of N8 billion at Ibadan office of CBN.

FG Moves to Seize BVN-less Accounts

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja has granted a request by Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, for a temporary forfeiture of all funds held in bank accounts not linked to BVNs.

Also to be forfeited are funds in accounts whose ownership could not be identified.

The latter are accounts without sufficient know-your-customer credentials, PREMIUM TIMES has reported. .

The order followed an originating motion of notice filed by Mr. Malami on behalf of the Nigerian government on September 28.

Justice Dimgba granted all the nine reliefs sought by Mr. Malami —himself represented by a lawyer, Usman Dakas— on October 17.

The court ordered all the 19 deposit money banks, DMBs, operating in the country to release to Nigerian government names of accounts not yet connected to BVN; account numbers; their outstanding balances; domiciling locations; and domiciliary accounts without BVN and where they are domiciled.

Nigeria deposit money banks that were listed as respondents in the ex-parte suit are: Access Bank, Citi Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank and First City Monument Bank.

Others are: Guaranty Trust Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank and United Bank for Africa.

The remaining three are: Unity, Bank Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

The court also ordered all of them to disclose any investments made with funds and to withhold authorisation for any outward inflow of funds from the accounts. All the details are to be submitted to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS, and the CBN for authentication.

The banks were also directed to publish all bank accounts not linked to BVN in national newspapers with a 14-day notice for individuals with interest in such accounts to come forward and justify why their funds should not be forfeited to the Nigerian government.

Mr. Dimgba also ordered the CBN, which was joined as 20th respondent alongside the 19 DMBs, to appoint an official who will examine all the details submitted to the apex bank for compliance.

The government argued the matter under Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011.

The section said banks must “ensure that documents, data or information collected under the customer due diligence process is kept up-to-date and relevant by undertaking reviews of existing records, particularly for higher risk categories of customers or business relationships.”

The Bank Verification Number is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.

The CBN imposed the policy to capture customers’ data for financial transactions and check fraud in the banking system.

Registration for BVNs commenced on February 14, 2014, across the country. The CBN said over 20.8 million customers enrolled 40 million bank accounts before the October 31, 2015, final deadline for customers residing within the country.

The CBN extended the deadline for Nigerians in the diaspora to December 2016 to sign up for the BVN system. But hundreds of thousands home and abroad are still believed to be left behind.