Forex Management: Cardoso, CBN Governor, Laughs Last.

 By Elizabeth Chukwuma

 Between January 2024 and now, there have been pressure, on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state, where Olayemi Michael Cardoso, had serve as Commissioner of Economic Planning  and Budget, during his tenure and now current governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to sack him

This is because of the inability of the apex Bank Monetary Committee headed by him to initiate a stable forex regime to preserve the value of naira, and ensure a healthy Balance of Payments as well as ensuring food pricing stability in the country.

Bwala: PDP Chieftain , calls for the sack of Cardoso, CBN governor

Daniel Bwala.   a Chieft of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and one-time spokesperson Of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and Presidential Candidate of the PDP, in the February 2, general elections may have opened the floodgate for others  to follow when  he called on President Tinubu, in late February 2024,  to sack  Cardoso  as the apex Bank  governor  over  the nation’s forex crisis.

Bwala, who may have severed relationship with Atiku and embraced Tinubu’s Camp in the recent time was said to have implored the former Lagos state governor to appoint a new CBN governor who has no Bank Executive role experience like Cardoso, who was a former Head of Citibank in Nigeria.

He had alluded to the fact that Cardoso appears to have taken advantage of his executive role experience in Citibank in Nigeria ‘’to be dancing around the elephant in the room’’. An aggrieve Bwala, who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the key to dealing a decisive blow to forex crisis against the nation’s Local currency  should not be different from the step taken b the Us Government  in handling the Enron scandal  which require  tough political decision. 

He had asked the Tinubu’ Government to make all the companies and individuals who had collected  Forex loans during Godwin  Emefiele’s tenure as the governor of the CBN , to account for them, insisting that they must be forced to pay up  all loans or their assets sold to recover the loans but that was how he could go.

Unknown to Bwala and others like him, who had wanted President Tinubu, to sack Cardoso, the CBN, governor ,  for failing to  properly manage the country’s forex market   over the last nine months, the former Head of the Citibank in Nigeria, has a game changer to address the country  forex crisis challenge.

Many believe that the Nigerian President may have created room for Nigerians to call for the removal of Cardoso over his inability to effectively manage unification of all segments of the country’s Foreign Exchange Market  as the naira continued to nosedive at both the Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, fem and Parallel, popular Black Market  .             

Indeed,  the volatility in the country’s Foreign Exchange Market and  the reforms that was said to have been introduced by the new apex Bank Authorities  this 2024, which includes the pegging of the Exchange rate, the decentralization of the Foreign Exchange in the CBN,  , the reinstatement of Bureaux de Change to buy  foreign Exchange as agents of the CBN, the reaffirmation of the illegality of  the  Parallel  Market  and the discontinuation of the open  accounts  and bills for collection  as means of payments sectors.

The CBN intervention policies appears to be yielding the desired result as Goldmine Sachs economists had described the dollar as the best performing currency in the international forex market in this month of April.  An elated Cardoso, may have gladdened the hart of Nigerians   at the just concluded World Bank and IMF Springs Meetings in Washing DC, Administrative Capital of the US, when he revealed that reforms introduced by the Bank to manage the nation’s forex in the recent are yielding the desired result.

Giving an insider information, Cardoso, had corroborated what Goldmine Sachs economists had said that ‘’ in this April, 2024, the naira had emerged as the best currency globally. According to him, it was said ‘’to have been supported by bullish sentiment from leading international investment Financial Institutions’’.

He was emphatic that the country’s FX market is experiencing robust activities with turnover reaching levels not seen in over seven years. He may have alluded to the management of the apex Bank of the FX, during the eight years of the Buhari’s Administration which was an indictment on Emefiele, the then CBN governor.

The no non-sense, current CBN governor,  who was a former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget , during former Tinubu’s Administration  as governor of Lagos state  had told those that cares to listen that the liquidity  boost in the country’s FX  market  had restored  confidence in Nigeria’s economy among investors, both local and foreign ,  businesses and other   international partners.

Aware of the challenges  facing the nation’s economy  including the rising inflation rate and that there are people who are waiting in the wings to make a mockery of the CBN reforms that are’’ paying off’’ in the country’s FX market, to force the naira to continue nose-diving may have emboldened Cardoso, the CBN , governor to speak out.

‘’We are not carried away  by the performing naira in the forex market  but would remain vigilant  to the rising inflationary rate in the country driven by rising food prices,  transportation costs and energy expenses’’, he had said.  

Cardoso, who had said that thee was no cause for alarm was said to have pointed out that though the country’s inflation rising but noted that ‘’it is doing so   at a decelerated rate and will soon commence a fall’’. The incumbent CBN governor who appears to have laughed last despite pressure piled on him in the past to deliver on his Presidential mandate to revive the value of naira  at the AFEM  market ,  had said that that they  have a determined pathway and sequenced  approach  to tackling the country’s forex challenges ahead , working  hand in hand  with the various  stakeholders including investors, particular, the Local investors , banks and other businesses and international partners including the apex Bank partner on the Fiscal side, like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of Ola Olukoyede  and the Nigeria Exchange Limited, NGX, among others.

Gwadebe: President ABCON

In a related development, Aminu Gwadebe, President, Association of Bureaux de Change operators of Nigeia, ABCON,  had given kudos to Cardoso, the CBN,  governor,  for taking advantage of the government forex policy of unification of both the AFEM and the Parallel Exchange Market to finally achieve the government  objective of convergence  of the country’s foreign exchange rates, meaning that the country would soon attain a market of single exchange rate .   As a participant in the forex market, the ABCON President had confirmed to the joy of Nigerians that’’ there is calmness  now  in the country’s forex market  as there had not been cases  speculation  coming into the market , describing it  as one of the albatross  that had been keeping the Local currency  under pressure over the years.

As a prelude to further strengthening the naira, an elated Cardoso had revealed that the government is considering ‘’the issuance of a diaspora bond to boost foreign exchange remittances into the country’’.  Hear him: the target is to double forex flows into the AFEM, as a way ‘’to have a stable forex and exchange rate that finds its adequate price discovery level. He could beat his chest that the naira will continue to appreciate against the US dollar and other world major currencies, as there had been positive response from portfolio investors insisting that the country will be able to accomplish it. He noted that in two days $600 million has come into the country’s foreign reserves, which was said to have pushed it up to $33.49 billion.  He had repeatedly said that the Nigeria’s eternal reserves are not used to defend the naira at the AFEM, as the Bank is focused  on getting  the  forex market to be independent  and self- funding where’’ it is controlled by market forces  and sufficient liquidity in the market. Vintage Cardoso.

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