By Aliyu Nuhu
No easy way for a country with bizarre economic behaviour. The economic laws are there for easy implementation in a normal society. But Nigeria is not normal. Everyone, from the leases to the ordinary citizens, is looking for ways to damage the country for personal gain. NIGERIA operates its economy with laws made from hell.
We all know our huge appetite for the dollar is driven by our need for foreign goods which we are unable to produce. If we don’t need foreign goods, there will be no demand for dollars since we only need the currency for imports. But who is not guilty among us here?
Naira supply affects inflation since too much money is chasing a few goods but is not the direct cause of the fall of the Naira in the forex market. Laws of demand and supply drive the forex market. More Dollars available will lower its value and vice versa with Naira. But these laws don’t work in Nigeria because of distortion in all economic policies created by the government, mostly by greedy Nigerians and the officials themselves.
The forex window allows funding of critical sectors with dollars by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). But the distortion here is that those given dollars to import goods will take the money to the money market for round-tripping. The CBN officials will also take the dollar and exchange it for quick gain. Each governor that gets FACC allocation in Naira will take it to market chasing the dollar.
With such behaviour, the Naira can never get a breather. It is this distortion that makes it difficult to explain the reasons why Naira is not only weak but unstable. Currency instability is the worst thing that can happen to a country. At any point in time, investors can never know their profits and losses. It is the reason why companies like Emirates, ShopRite and Game are closing shop.
After looking at some of our promising macro trends, Nigeria is still unable to keep Naira strong because of the depletion of the country’s foreign exchange reserves. The major function of foreign reserves is to keep the Naira strong. But regime after regime keeps spending the reserve account to a point that no one can precisely say the balance of NIGERIA’s foreign reserve.
World Bank said irrespective of all other macroeconomic shortcomings, the Naira can still be exchanged for a dollar one-on-one if we can have $900bn in our foreign reserve. But what do we have today? Less than $30bn!
Kuwait is a consumer country like Nigeria, but because it has a foreign reserve of $137bn and a gold reserve of 78.97 tonnes, it has the strongest currency in the world. But Nigeria has 21.37 tonnes of gold in its reserve and a $34bn reserve for an economy with a GDP of $489bn. Kuwait is able to save with a GDP of $106bn! There is evidence that shows that GDP growth and employment growth increase in response to positive shocks to foreign currency reserves (forex reserves) accumulation, whereas unemployment declines.
Read the reports on the new government report on CBN, and you will understand that the Naira is only competitive by sheer luck, if not a miracle. Everyone, including people in charge of Naira’s health, is out to destroy the Naira.