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Bank boss gets flak over hobbled naira

Currencies
Lagos - Earlier this year, an open letter in the Nigerian media from a group of businessmen attacked the “shameful” record of central bank governor Godwin Emefiele and demanded that he should go.

With Africa’s largest economy in recession for the first time in 25 years, the letter reflects growing anger directed at Emefiele, whose insistence on keeping the naira artificially high is believed to have worsened Nigeria’s oil price-induced slump.

Three years into his tenure, the flak is flying around the 55-year-old career banker once admiringly described by colleagues as a discreet man who gives little away.

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A trader changes dollars for naira at a currency exchange store in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: Reuters

The advertisement, which appeared in several newspapers and online news portals, is the most prominent expression so far of widespread discontent with the government’s naira policy among senior figures from the worlds of business and investment.

Read also: Currency burbs to protect Naira

“Whatever hard-won reforms we had have been undone in the past two years by [Emefiele],” one of the signatories, accountant Feyi Fawehinmi, said. Another advert is being planned, he said.

Emefiele imposed currency restrictions in 2015, defying bankers’ advice to float the naira and raise interest rates as some other oil exporters had done. Investors fled as the once-promising emerging market was ejected from indexes.

Economists and investors are scathing about Emefiele, citing policies that have choked off the flow of dollars to official channels and fuelled a naira black market.

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