Atedo Peterside, founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc and Anap Foundation, has blamed Godwin Emefiele’s led Central Bank of Nigeria’s activities, especially multiple exchange rate regimes, as one of the factors dissuading investors from investing in the country.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Vanguard Economic Focus themed ‘National Plans & Performance: Gaps, Learnings & Opportunities’, in Lagos, Peterside said there was no level playing field for businesses as they access forex at different rates.
He said the system was skewed in favour of a handful of people, adding that it has limited the growth of the economy.
“Many countries in the world have a level playing field. Why will you come and invest in an economy, where three people in the same sector in Nigeria, one will be getting forex at N420 to a dollar, the next one will be getting at an average of about N500 to a dollar and the last one with the wrong parentage, will be paying N580 to the dollar,” Peterside said.
“We deliberately rigged the economy, in favour of a handful of people so that they can do very well. The first thing you need before an economy can grow is a level playing field.
“This economy is rigged in favour of a handful of people. When they say, there is an investment, yes, by a handful of people only. This thing has to be corrected, unless that is done, we are going no where.
“I think change is coming, in whatever form, it will come next year. We need to sort out something that elsewhere in Africa does not even exist. As long as we allow a handful of people to rig everything in their favour, we are going nowhere.’’
Peterside said that apart from the exchange rate anomaly, investors were moving their funds to other African countries where things were done better.
“The (Nigerian) economy was one of the fastest-growing until 2014. It grew steadily for 15 years but since 2015, it has been declining steadily. Nigeria is among the countries that have become laggards. We need to ask ourselves what has changed,” he explained.
“This is not because other economies are also not growing. Others are growing but we are lagging. Investor confidence in the Nigerian economy is declining because there’s no level playing field for the investors.
“The economy has been rigged to favour a few. To grow the economy, we have to create a level playing field.”
Nigeria operates multiple exchange rate windows ranging from the I&E (NAFEX) window where forex is traded between exporters, investors, and purchasers of forex, to the SMEIS window where forex is sold to importers.
Over the years, the lack of clarity on Nigeria’s foreign exchange windows has been a cause of concern for investors who are worried about currency risk.
On Tuesday, the Nigerian naira dropped 0.71 per cent to close at N418.50/$1 at the I&E forex window and depreciated to N600/$1 at the parallel market.