LAGOS – Nigeria’s central bank has played down fears of a banking crisis, dismissing as without foundation suggestions that some high-street lenders were in trouble.
“The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been drawn to malicious rumours and unfounded speculations that some banks in the country may have gone or may be going into distress,” it said in an emailed statement late Wednesday.
“The CBN wishes to reiterate in the strongest terms that these rumours and speculations are untrue and do not reflect the actual health of the individual banks and, indeed, the entire banking industry.”
The chief executive, chairman and 10 board members of Nigeria’s eighth-biggest lender, Skye Bank, resigned on Monday after the biggest drop in the bank’s share price in more than six months.
Africa’s leading economy, which relies on oil sales for 70 percent of government revenue, is in financial crisis and on the verge of a recession because of sustained low oil prices over the last two years.
The CBN last month allowed the naira currency to float for the first time, after sustained weakening against the dollar, causing a shortage in foreign exchange needed for key imports from petrol to food.
Banks are struggling to make money and extend credit because of non-performing loans, according to Bloomberg.
CBN spokesman Isaac Okorafor called Skye Bank’s replacement of its board and management “a proactive regulatory action”.
“Neither Skye Bank nor any other bank in the industry is in distress… the CBN hereby reassures the banking and general public that their deposits remain safe in any Nigerian bank,” he added.
“There is, therefore, no need for panic withdrawals from any bank… It is important that we do not create problems when none exists.”