(Bloomberg) -- Nigerian tycoon Tony Elumelu said new leadership at the nation’s central bank will help restore confidence the nation’s currency.
Olayemi Michael Cardoso formally assumed duties as acting governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday, pending his confirmation by the Senate.
That didn’t stop the naira from weakening. It depreciated to 992 per dollar in the unofficial market, according to the Forward Marketing Bureau de Change Ltd., which compiles the data. The rate compares with 900 naira at the start of the month, and is some 30% weaker than its official Thursday close of 772.98 on the FMDQ trading platform.
“The reason people are accumulating dollars is not because they need it now, it is because of lack of confidence,” Elumelu said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in New York. The new central bank team is “very capable” and will be able to bring confidence, he said.
Elumelu, who is the chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc and the biggest shareholder of Transnational Corp. of Nigeria Plc, the nation’s biggest conglomerate, said there’s panic because Nigerians don’t know where the currency will settle. The naira is Africa’s worst-performing among 24 currencies on the continent monitored by Bloomberg.
Transcorp controls about 16% of Nigeria’s electricity generating capacity, runs hotels and explores for oil. That gives Elumelu an avenue to expand in areas that are crucial for Africa’s most-populous nation.
“The missing link has been poor leadership and I believe that we all know there’s so much, private global capital, seeking the right investment destination,” Elumelu said.
Shares of his companies have surged this year in dollar terms. Transcorp has more than doubled in 2023, while United Bank has advanced about 40%.
--With assistance from Jennifer Zabasajja and Emele Onu.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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