Nigerian policemen and soldiers on Tuesday dispersed around 100 youth protesters demanding the resignation of central bank governor Godwin Emefiele over rising inflation and a falling currency, a Reuters witness said.
The protesters marched to the central bank’s headquarters in the capital Abuja, accusing it of failing to drag Africa’s biggest economy and energy producer out of recession and stopping the descent of the naira against the dollar.
In front of the bank’s main entrance, they held up placards saying “Emefiele must go” and “Where is your conscience, Emefiele?” until policemen and soldiers scattered them.
It was the first sign of public unrest targeting the central bank during the current economic crunch.
Nigeria is in recession as a slump in vital oil revenues has hammered public finances and the currency, driving up the prices of imported goods and basic food such as milk. The West African nation needs to buy abroad to meet most of its food needs.
Annual inflation accelerated to 17.5 percent in August, compared with 9.3 percent in the same month last year.
In June the central bank dropped its peg of the naira to the dollar, prompting the currency to depreciate by 40 percent in a step meant to attract more investors. But bankers say the move has only sped up the decline of the naira on the parallel black market, which has become the benchmark.
On Tuesday, the naira traded at 310 against the dollar on the official interbank market and 470 on the black market, according to dealers.