By Martin Ekpeke
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said if Nigerians want to be frank with themselves as business people, the government should not be blamed for the continued decline in the value of the Naira. Rather, it is the attitude of the average Nigerian to import everything responsible for the fall of the Naira.
The President of LCCI, Mr. Gabriel Idahosa, who spoke to Journalists on the sideline of the launch of Zandaux, a Business-2-Business e-Commerce platform in Lagos recently, noted that Nigerians import virtually everything to the country. Thus, giving the dollar priority over and above the Naira, its owned currency.
“If we want to be very frank with ourselves as practical business people, it is not the government that is responsible for the fall of the Naira. The government cannot stop the fall in the value of the naira. We Nigerians are the ones who import everything from toothpicks to shoes and virtually every other item,” he said.
He believes that once Nigeria reduces its urge for importation and begins to patronize its products and services, the Naira, which is presently being exchanged for over N1,400 for one United States of America dollar will begin to get value.
“Once we start to reduce importation and consumption of foreign-made products, once we start going to holiday within Nigeria instead of flying to Dubai, South Africa, Europe and America, the value of the naira will rise,” he explained.
The LCCI President noted that it is wishful thinking to expect that a Central Bank Governor will print a lot of dollars and suddenly begin to reduce the cost of the dollar. According to him, a businessman who is seeking dollars to clear his imported goods should also be able to prove that he is sending containers loaded with Nigerian products to other countries.
The Naira has been on the decline in the last six months, forcing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to clear the way for banks to sell foreign exchange at rates determined by them. The new policy is part of strategies by the apex bank to stabilize the naira and perhaps result in quicker and more convenient access to foreign currency for businesses and individuals.
Many experts have also argued that the increasing scarcity of the dollar, which many people believe is being hoarded and its growing demand in Nigeria are at the root of the collapse of the naira. While other argued that Banks paying in dollars instead of naira to recipients of Western Union remittances is also serving as an abattoir to the Naira.