Worried by the continuous depreciation of the Naira which now stands at N197 to $1, the Senate on Yesterday summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to brief parliament on the situation.
The upper chamber also urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy from dependence on oil export into taxation, agriculture, manufacturing, international tourism and solid minerals’ prospecting.
The Red Chamber, however, rejected a resolution which urged the Federal Government to stop leakages in the economy and another which urged the Federal Government to give marching orders to the apex bank to bring to book anyone who is found wanting of money laundering.
Also, another resolution calling for the invitation of EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, to brief legislators on money laundering violation was also rejected.
This followed a motion moved by Nazif Suleiman (APC, Bauchi North), who expressed “serious concern on the state of the Nigerian economy as it affects the growing rate of the depreciation of the Naira.”
The senator argued that the depreciation was the consequence of the negative cash flow which he said resulted from the downward trend of oil price. The situation, he added, had been worsened by speculations in the foreign exchange market.
He also said the Senate observed that the foreign exchange needs of various sectors of the economy were being made available while Nigeria’s commitment in the global economy had dwindled.
He expressed suspicion that the Nigerian banking industry might be defaulting in the global economy, a situation he said had been sending a wrong signal about the economy.
Suleiman also said the speculation caused by the situation had resulted in a huge capital flight with attendant inflationary consequence which he said would affect an average Nigerian on the street.
He noted that the “illicit fund flows and money laundering going through Nigerian financial system contributes in weakening the value of the Naira which has made the recent decision of CBN to increase its vigilance to ensure that Nigeria banks are not used as conduit for illicit fund flow and money laundering in foreign currencies.”
He canvassed the need to regulate demand and supply of foreign exchange by the CBN with various options considered to curtail naira depreciation and consequently discourage speculations.
Other senators who contributed opined that the nation’s over dependence on importation rather than manufacturing was a major culprit in the depreciation of the Naira to the dollar.
Olaka Nwogu (PDP, Rivers South East) said the fact that most of the importation is done in dollar, the foreign currency will continue to appreciate over the naira because of the high demand.
He harped on the need for more industries to get youths employed.
He therefore sought a legal framework for establishment of an industry in every senatorial zone.
He blamed senators as contributors to the problems and therefore urged them to begin the industrial revolution with their constituency projects.
“The weight of the dollar is the visible sickness that we see, but many things contribute to this sickness; our education is epileptic and not geared towards employment and wealth creation.
“Our dependence on only one source of revenue whose value has dropped by half is part of the problem. My suggestion therefore is that we need more industries so that people can get employed,” he said.
In his contribution, Minority Whip, Philip Aduda (PDP, FCT), blamed the downward slide in the value of Naira on the inability of the Federal Government to put in place stable economic policies.
On his part, Gbolahan Dada (APC, Ogun West), said if the situation must be effectively tackled, Nigeria must define its economic policies and make laws that will address fraud. He regretted that Nigeria’s dependence on imported items without tangible production had been the bane of stable foreign exchange.
In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki decried the activities of speculators, adding that the influx of foreign items into the country must be adequately curtailed.