Nigeria’s forex market needs clear, enforceable rules – i-invest

Chairman of brokerage firm, Parthian Partners Limited, owners of digital investment platform, i-invest, Dotun Sulaiman, has expressed optimism about the potential impact of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) proposed policy documentation on rules of the foreign exchange market operation in Nigeria.

Sulaiman, who disclosed this in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing National Economic Summit Tuesday in Abuja, introducing clear, enforceable rules would bring the much-needed order and discipline to a market that has been described as “a jungle” due to its lack of clear rules and accountability.

i-invest, a platform that aims to democratize investing in Nigeria, was introduced five years ago. The platform simplifies investing for people from all walks of life, allowing them to invest in various financial instruments with as little as ₦5,000.

The CBN governor, Yemi Cardoso, had disclosed during a panel session at the summit that the bank will publish robust policy documentation on what the rules of the foreign exchange market operation will be in the coming weeks.

He said, “The role the CBN Governor is coming up with is the answer to the free fall. When you have a market that is almost like a jungle, where there are no rules, anything comes and goes, what you get is what we are getting now.”

Sulaiman emphasized the importance of clear and enforceable rules for the market, citing the current lack of transparency in exchange rates as a prime example of the challenges facing Nigeria’s economy.

Speaking on investment, he stressed that investment decisions require a clear understanding of the parameters and factors influencing the market, both controllable and non-controllable. He believes that discipline and confidence in the system are essential to inspire investment, as no one is willing to invest in a situation characterized by unpredictability.

“It is confidence that inspires investment; nobody will invest in a situation where you don’t know what will happen,” Sulaiman said.

According to him, Nigeria needs a stronger collaboration between the public and private sectors, highlighting that the government alone cannot resolve the country’s economic challenges. He stressed that a conducive environment, enforcement of rules, and inspired confidence are necessary to encourage investment.

Investment, according to Suleiman, is about taking a risk today for returns in the future. However, he acknowledged that a lack of certainty and clear boundaries hampers investment in Nigeria, which he attributes to the absence of a rule of law and a breach of contract.

Sulaiman also touched on the issue of Nigeria’s mounting debt and its impact on the economy. He advocated for improved productivity as a means to tackle the country’s debt woes, suggesting that a productive economy would reduce the need for borrowing. He noted that Nigeria’s debt had become burdensome due to the mismanagement of borrowed funds and the disproportionate interest burden relative to revenue.

The solution, Sulaiman argued, is not to borrow less but to generate more revenue internally, including through increased tax collection. He stressed that Nigerians pay some of the lowest taxes relative to GDP in the world, making it imperative for the government to boost tax revenue.