Nigeria Lawmakers Summon Central Bank Governor Over Currency

  • Emefiele asked to appear before senate in Abuja on Jan. 19
  • Governor to explain naira's depreciation on the black market

Nigeria’s Senate summoned central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele to explain the fall of the naira on the unofficial market.

Emefiele must appear before lawmakers in Abuja, the capital, at 11 a.m. on Jan. 19, Senate Leader Ali Ndume said Thursday.

The central bank of Africa’s biggest oil producer has, with President Muhammadu Buhari’s backing, all but pegged the local currency at 197-199 per dollar since March last year after it fell to a record low amid a rout in crude prices. The naira has still weakened on the parallel market used by non-banks for the last several months as Emefiele’s policies have led to a shortage of dollars in the country, which imports almost all its manufactured goods. The black market rate fell to 300 against the dollar for the first time this week and was at a record 305 on Thursday.

“In view of this worrisome situation and the fact that we all know that this country depends so much on imported materials and even food, there is a need for this senate to, as a matter of urgency, invite or summon the governor of CBN to explain this situation and to provide the necessary solution,” Ndume said.

Speculation is mounting that the central bank will devalue the currency, with the move possibly being announced at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting on Jan. 26, Alan Cameron, a London-based economist at Exotix Partners LLP, said in a research note. Three-month non-deliverable naira forwards weakened 4.3 percent to a record 251 per dollar on Jan. 12, before paring losses.

Ibrahim Mu’azu, a spokesman for the Abuja-based central bank, didn’t answer calls to his mobile or immediately respond to a text message requesting comment on Thursday.

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