29 Jul 2020

Mallam Isa Funtua: The Man Who Manipulated The Central Bank Of Nigeria

Mallam Isa Funtua was an in-law and an associate of President Muhammadu Buhari. He died a few weeks ago. While Mr Funtua was alive, he was alleged to have controlled the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its foreign exchange (Forex) trade.

The allegation was that Mr Funtua obtained Forex at a lower exchange rate from the CBN and resold to the bureau de changes at a higher rate. This is what is known as round tripping, and it can also be called money laundering.

This type of Forex manipulation is the reason Nigeria has multiple exchange rate mechanisms. The associates of the powers that be buy forex at lower rates than the rest of the people. Multiple exchange rates in a system is nothing but corruption.

Though Isa Funtua denied the allegation, and even threatened to deal with the journalist who dared to expose him, but the current events suggest otherwise.

Barely a few weeks after Mallam Isa Funtua died, Nigerian Naira has had a free fall against all major currencies. And the Naira has been depreciating at an increasing rate of about 10 Naira per week, which is due to the scarcity of foreign currencies.

In fact, in this coronavirus pandemic lockdown that slowed economic activities, what could be driving up the demand for Forex, and putting a lot of pressure on the Naira?

Obviously, the pressure on the Naira is due to the scarcity of Forex which presumably was caused by the cut off of Forex supply chain to the bureau de changes. Who else was accused of supplying the bureau de changes with Forex other than Mallam Isa Funtua?

The current predicament of the Naira gives subtle legitimacy to the allegation of Forex manipulation aimed at Mallam Isa Funtua. Or Else, the nexus between the death of Mr Funtua and the scarcity of foreign currencies must be another wonder of this Coronavirus year.

The CBN and President Buhari’s regime should wake up to the reality that the Naira will continue with its downward trend until another Isa Funtua steps in.

But the best option to permanently stop this Forex corruption, and stabilize the country's economy, is to have one exchange rate structure. Otherwise the Naira will die with the man who manipulated the Forex trade – and that man was Mallam Isa Funtua.