To be clear, a high black market exchange rate is terrible for import-dependent businesses that cannot access foreign exchange from official government channels given existing restrictions. As such, a recourse to black market operators is done only out of necessity on the back of the government’s ongoing currency policies.

It’s a curious situation that continues to stump analysts who advocate for more flexibility on the part of the government to mitigate the ongoing effects of its currency policies. But, as many have found, in government circles, conversations about the naira’s exchange rate appear to be more focused on political optics than economic expediency.

Given its obvious utility amid the central bank’s policies, Eduviere says Emefiele’s comments disparaging the parallel market may have been in a bid to discourage speculative buying as well as “restore confidence in the market and reassure foreign investors that their assets are safe.”

Yet those comments are unlikely to reduce pressure on the naira. “It will not be surprising to see further depreciation in the parallel market as we approach the festive season,” says Janet Ogunkoya, senior research analyst at Tellimer Research.

As it turns out, increased dollar demand through the Christmas season is a prospect that could yet bring an even more unpalatable economic reality for the Nigerian government. A 7% increase in current black market exchange rates will mean Nigeria’s monthly minimum wage amounts to $58 or $1.87 per day—a figure that’s below the current United Nations international poverty line.

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