The Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) had to resist powerful forces that were determined to pillage and control the economy by insisting that the naira be floated.
The bank made the disclosure during an interactive session with editors in Abuja at the weekend.
The Director of Corporate Communication, Ugochukwu Isaac Okoroafor, explained that very influential individuals and organisations mounted pressure on the bank and embarked on campaign to force the apex bank to float the naira with the accompanying uncertainty of exposing the nation’s currency to the harsh vagaries of market forces.
Since the advent of the current administration, the official also said the bank had been subjected to endless investigations and invited by the National Assembly “sometimes everyday, seven times in a week. At every hearing in the National Assembly, the CBN will always be invited.”
Okoroafor observed that “people erroneously believe there is a lot of money in the bank and they resort to blackmail hoping to get some money. We run an open, transparent and accountable system compared to any good central bank in the world. Our books are open and there is nothing to hide.”
He maintained that the focus of the CBN is the survival of the economy and expressed optimism that the bank has been able to stabilize the naira and working to reduce the exchange rate.
According to him, the CBN is on the right track as the forex management system is yielding positive outcome while the parallel market, known in local parlance as the ‘black market’, is already dead because of proactive policies of the bank. The focus now, he explained, is what to do with the official market, as the target is to bring inflation to a single digit.
On allegations that the apex bank released more money than the expected threshold to government, he said no money was given. According to him, “the money released was actually government money.”
The bank officials also presented an overview on global domestic economic growth and disclosed that Nigeria is currently at 0.55 per cent growth index.
The CBN however acknowledged that unemployment remains an inhibiting factor to economic growth, adding that the burden can impact external reserve and loan financing in banks.
But the recent upward swing in the price of crude currently hovering around $56 a barrel, other experts contend, may just be the turning point for the country to consolidate its exit from recession.