* Governor says will operate without interference
* Reiterates aim is to bring down interest rates
* Will work to rebuild reserves - Emefiele
(Recasts with comment on rates)
By Chijioke Ohuocha
LAGOS, June 11 Nigeria's central bank remains
"very independent," newly appointed governor Godwin Emefiele
said on Wednesday, dismissing fears of government interference
after the president ousted the previous governor in February.
Emefiele also told investors in a conference call the bank
would aim to eventually bring down interest rates, holding to a
stance that last week helped send the naira to its
lowest in more than two months and sparked a sell-off in bonds.
Investors and analysts, worried by the suspension of widely
respected former governor Lamido Sanusi, have fretted that the
government may attempt to influence monetary policy before a
national election next year in Africa's largest economy.
Sanusi, an outspoken critic of the government who regularly
railed against its record on corruption, was a favourite of
international investors. He was named the Emir of Kano on
Sunday, making him one of the most influential leaders in the
largely Muslim north of Nigeria.
"The MPC is very independent and there would not be any
changes (to policy)," Emefiele said, referring to the bank's
monetary policy committee.
"All decisions will be taken in line with economic
Emefiele, who took office last week, spooked investors on
Thursday when he outlined his aim to spur lending by reducing
interest rates - a stark contrast to Sanusi, who often suggested
he had to maintain high rates because of reckless government
spending, especially during election cycles.
Emefiele later told Reuters in an interview that he had no
immediate plans to cut interest rates and that he would not
consider it until after the presidential election in February
Still, analysts have said the mere mention of a desire to
eventually cut rates, which have been stuck at 12 percent since
2011, sent a strong signal to the markets.
"We will try in the medium- and long-term to make sure that
rates come down after we monitor the liquidity situation and
market condition," Emefiele said on the conference call.
The naira has stabilised since last week's sell-off, partly
owing to dollar sales by oil companies.
Emefiele also said he would work to rebuild foreign
reserves. Nigeria had around $37 billion in reserves as of June
9, which can cover up to eight months of imports, he said.
He said the bank would ensure financial stability and
and would not introduce regulations that would harm the
profitability of lenders.
(Editing by David Dolan/Ruth Pitchford)