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NIGERIAN BANKS STRONG, CAN WEATHER CRISIS, SAYS SENIOR CENTRAL BANK OFFICIAL

Nigeria’s banks are facing economic challenges but have strong capital buffers to weather the crisis, says a senior Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official, Tokunbo Martins.

Nigeria is in recession with a slump in the oil revenues that make up the bulk of its foreign earnings having hammered public finances and the naira currency.

In June the central bank dropped its peg of the naira against the US dollar, prompting the local currency to depreciate by 40 per cent, further hitting consumers’ spending power.

The non-performing loans (NPL) ratio in the banking sector hit 11.7 per cent in the first half of 2016, well above the central bank’s 5.0 per cent limit, and it has forecast a further rise in the ratio in the second half. NPLs stood at 5.3 per cent at the end of last year.

Loans to the oil and gas sectors accounted for almost a third of total bank lending, the central bank said in its latest half-year financial stability report. The fall in oil prices since mid-2014 has forced Nigerian lenders, which have long focused on loans to the energy sector, to adapt their business models.

“Banks have strong capital buffers,” Martins, who is the CBN Director of Banking Supervision, told journalists after a regular meeting with lenders, which is held every two months.

In July, the central bank sacked the management of Skye Bank, Nigeria’s eighth biggest, for failing to meet minimum capital requirements.

“Banks are feeling the headwinds,” added Martins, who said the supply of foreign exchange for manufacturers would be improved. However, she did not say how.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK.