The Central Bank of Nigeria has been called out on their refusal to disclose the exact foreign remittances it has received from 2016 to 2018. According to Sahara Reporters, the apex bank is accused of deliberately stocking the US dollars it receives on behalf of Nigerians to trade them off through crooked means. It is due to this unscrupulous endeavour that the Central Bank of Nigeria has prevented financial institutions in the country from paying United States dollars to persons receiving money from friends and family members based overseas has been uncovered.
An inquiry from the Femi Falana chambers through Mrs Funmi Falana on February 10 2020, addressed to the apex bank, demanded the accurate remittances for 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. According to the law firm, it was deemed fit to make this demand after it was discovered that the CBN had quoted a misleading figure to downplay the volume of money sent home by Nigerians in the Diaspora. The request read: “Springing from the above statement from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, we request to be furnished with the official figures of remittances received by Nigeria from the Diaspora for 2016, 2017 and 2018. “Please be informed that this request is anchored on the Freedom of Information Act, 2010.” However, despite the law providing that such Freedom of Information requests be attended to within 7 days, the CBN responded four months later on June 29, 2020. The letter signed by its Director of Corporate Secretariat, Mrs C.E Olonta, said it could not respond to the request as the information sought was already on its website.
A cogent instance of this happening was in February 2019, when the Nigerian Government disclosed that the remittances received in the country in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were $19.6bn, $22bn and $25bn respectively. However, the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria faulted the figures, going ahead to claim before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora that contrary to the World Bank’s report, the official financial inflow was $2.6bn for 2018.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, revealed that the dollars are currently utilised as social security funds to families (school fees, feeding allowances, hospital bills and so on). Some of it is invested in housing and estate development, hospital projects, schools and commercial enterprises but are not properly documented and analysed for impact.’
Therefore, as the CBN warehouses the dollar component of remittances in foreign banks to be used for the above-stated purposes, it makes it impossible for the naira to appreciate against the dollar in the foreign exchange market. Further findings by SaharaReporters revealed that even though all remittances are recorded by the CBN daily, the management has refused to disclose the real figures. The statement insists on the importance of letting the public know that apart from hiding the fact that revenue from remittances is far more than oil revenue, all foreign aids and Foreign Direct Investment, the CBN wants to continue to sabotage the national economy through dubious regulations and that was why it banned banks and other foreign exchange dealers from paying foreign currencies to recipients of foreign remittances. Financial experts have called for the restraining of the CBN from hoarding information on the money sent to the country by Nigerians living abroad. As their actions sabotage the decision of the Federal Government to mobilise the huge diaspora remittances to catalyze economic development in line with the provisions of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Act.