The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, has said that about $11bn (N1.73tn) has been taken out of the country through the airports this year, a development he describes as worrisome.
Sanusi, while speaking at an event organised by Bank Directors Association of Nigeria in Lagos on Thursday, wondered why many Nigerians now preferred carrying out transactions with the United States dollar at the expense of the local currency, the naira.
According to him, the dollar is becoming the country’s second currency based on its usage, adding that the central bank’s aim for contemplating the introduction of the N5,000 bill was to address the development.
He said, “In this country, almost everybody uses the dollar. This year alone, the records we have based on the declared amount at the airports is getting to about $11bn in cash that was taken out of Nigeria.
“Why would anyone walk out of an airport with $5m? Well, they will say is because the law has made it clear that you can take any amount so long as you have declared it and I cannot stop you. These are some of the issues we wanted the introduction of the N5,000 note to address.”
Sanusi said the planned introduction of the N5,000 bills was part of a thought process aimed also at driving the cash-less policy initiative.
He said, “If people want to carry N15m, they go to Bureau De Change and change it into dollars. You give them $100,000 and that is about N15m. The dollar has become a second national currency. Barely two months ago in Zambia, the nation passed a law stating that anyone who refuses to accept its local currency and who charges for a transaction in a foreign currency goes to jail for 10 years.
“But you come to Nigeria and you see people paying their children’s school fees in dollars. We laugh about this but it is an important issue. Can you go to America and buy something using pounds sterling? Or you go to Tokyo and use dollar and see if the hotel will accept the currency? Before they will transact with you, you must change it into their local currency.
“So, this is a problem, and it is apart from the fact that we are in a country where monetary and economic policies have been subjects to popular vote. In fact, it is not an election! If I want popular vote, I will go and contest for the chairman of a local government. Everybody is an economist, a central bank governor and many more.”