By Our Reporter
The President of Coalition of Civil Society Groups (CCSG), Bassey Etuk-Williams has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria and other relevant security agencies to trace the sources of huge cash deposited in the banking sector.
Etuk-Williams made the call at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday that the action would help to curb cases of money laundering in the country.
It was recalled recently there was restriction on cash deposits of dollars by the Federal Government to discourage naira speculation and money laundering.
“We therefore call on the CBN, along with relevant security agencies, to trace the sources of these huge cash deposits, to ensure that we do not have cases of money laundering or terrorism financing in our banking system.
“We sadly note that these cash deposits of dollars have also encouraged excessive speculation on the naira, with the naira exchange rate at the black market reaching N245 to a dollar in August.
“We are happy to observe that the recent prohibition of cash deposits of dollars dealt a heavy blow to speculators as the exchange rate appreciated to N208 to $1 recently,’’ he said.
Etuk-Williams commended the CBN for the recent measures put in place to conserve the dwindling foreign exchange reserve to ensure stability of the naira and create jobs for the people.
He also commended the effort of the CBN in preventing excessive imports of items like rice, eggs, private jets and toothpicks which were either luxurious or could be produced in Nigeria.
He said the action was indirectly creating a huge opportunity for Nigerians to begin to look inward to produce the items at home.
He lamented the importation of the items which the country had strong comparative advantages.
He added that by importing the items, Nigeria was simply importing poverty and exporting jobs to those countries.
“And this is the reason why every well-meaning Nigerian should support the effort of CBN, particularly in this difficult time of low oil prices.
“While we agree that these measures may come with some temporary pains, we must also realise that we as Nigerians ought to be willing to bear sacrifices that are for the ultimate good of the nation.
“If we become more productive and succeed in diversifying our economy, it will only serve to create more jobs, reduce poverty and increase the commonwealth of our nation,’’ he said.
He called on government to also deploy additional measures to supplement the CBN effort in driving Nigeria’s local productivity such as improvements in the power supply.
Other areas to be improved upon are the rail and road transportation network to reduce influx of contraband. Etuk-Williams said CBN measures would also enhance the legitimacy and transparency of transactions in the financial system, especially now that President Mohammadu Buhari sought to tackle corruption and impunity to restore sanity in the country.
He, therefore, called on the government to continue to explore ways of diversifying the country’s economy, to create more jobs for the teeming youths.