By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA Feb 21 A change of leadership at
Nigeria's central bank will not affect the direction of monetary
policy, and the bank has no immediate plans to devalue the naira
, Acting Governor Sarah Alade said on Friday.
"The bank has the capacity to meet the demands of all
foreign exchange users," she said, adding that the regulator
would continue to pursue "the principal goal of ensuring
monetary and price stability ... measures consistent with
sustainable, non-inflationary growth."
Markets have been a tailspin since President Goodluck
Jonathan suspended Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi on
Thursday, on allegations he mismanaged the bank's budget,
especially its procurement procedures.
Sanusi was credited with stabilising the exchange rate of
the naira, the local currency, and bringing down inflation.
The naira fell to a record low 169 to the dollar on the news
before trading ground to halt because of excessive volatility.
The bank has since intervened twice with dollar sales to prop it
up -- $150 million was spent on Thursday, dealers said. No
figures were available for Friday.
The central bank says it still wants to keep the naira
within its managed target band of 150-160 to the greenback.
But even after the two interventions, the currency closed at
165.10 on Friday. It was already under pressure as foreign
investors pulled back from emerging markets in general, and the
central bank had spent billions of dollars defending it.
Figures on the bank's web site show liquid reserves had
declined by $2.21 billion or 5.2 percent this year to $40.25
billion by Feb. 19, from $42.46 billion at the start of the
year. That is about $45 million a day.
"Recent changes at the CBN will not in any way affect the
monetary policy direction and pursuit of ... maintaining price
and financial system stability," Alade said.
Sanusi, whose term was due to end in June, had been
presenting evidence to parliament that he said showed the state
oil company, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),
failed to remit $20 billion it owed to federal government
coffers, fuelling suspicion his suspension was politically
motivated. The presidency denies that.