A trader counts a pile of naira notes in Abuja, Nigeria. File picture: Suzanne Plunkett

INTERNATIONAL – The naira eased on the forward market on Monday and Nigerian stocks fell in early trades after the country’s surprise decision to delay national elections over the weekend, just hours before polls had been due to open.

The electoral commission said the postponement, which is due to last a week, was due solely to logistical factors and denied political pressure had played any part in the decision. President Muhammadu Buhari and his rival, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, both urged voters to stay calm.

The one-year non-deliverable naira forward opened at a quote of 401 per dollar from 397 previous sessions. Nigeria’s most liquid banking stocks eased 1.07 percent while oil stocks fell 1.44 percent.

In December 2018, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari presented 8.83 trillion nairas ($28.80 billion) budget for 2019 to parliament on Wednesday and laid out a plan to drive growth two months before elections.

The spending plan for Africa’s top oil producer assumes crude production of 2.3 million barrels a day, an oil price of $60 per barrel and an exchange rate of 305 nairas to the dollar.