Jude received 1,000 dollars in January 2017 from his brother who lives in America. At that time, the dollar exchanged for 490 Naira on the black market.

At that rate, he would have received 490,000 Naira. But he did not sell.

The Naira kept crashing and was trading at over 500 naira by the third week of February.

His speculation had paid off. But he still held on to his dollars as analysts continued to predict worse days.  

Unfortunately, that did not happen as the CBN on February 22, intervened with 80 million dollars which it sold to retail customers. This reduced the rates to 480 Naira to one dollar.

But that did not send any warning signal to Jude who told me he believed, "it was just one of those fluctuations in the market."

But in the following days, the CBN's intervened with more dollars in the market, and effectively dropped the rate to between 465 to 450 Naira per dollar at the black market.

"That was when I had to go and sell my own dollars. I sold it for 455 Naira per dollar. I got 455,000 Naira as against 520,000 Naira that I would have gotten if I had sold at the peak of the Naira crash," he said.

Black Market Blues

Bala is a foreign exchange dealer in Lagos Mainland. He deals on the black market. He buys dollars, pounds and euros in large volumes and sells to those in need.

When the forex scarcity hit Nigeria harder and the dollar started trading at 520 per one dollar, Bala did not see any reprieve, so he gladly purchased 200,000 dollars at 515 naira per dollar.

That same day, the central bank unofficially devalued the naira by announcing the 375 Naira per dollar to retail customers.

"I was devastated. I did not know what to do. I did not know that CBN would do such a thing. I lost up to 10 million Naira to that decision.

"Black market is a very risky business which is why it we call it black market in the first place," Bala who had sold his 200,000 dollars at 455 Naira told Bounce.

Yusuf, another currency dealer told Bounce News that, like a hunter's prey, they have learnt to fly without perching, by selling their foreign exchange immediately without much delay.

"This is our business. We have to buy. But before, we can buy like 10,000 to 20,000 dollars and keep but because we don't know what the CBN will do anytime, we sell the same day we buy.

"So, even if it is 3 Naira or 5 Naira that you make, at least you will be sure you are not losing your money," he told Bounce when asked why they still buy even when they are not sure what the CBN would do.

The CBN had acted over the past week, to prop up the naira, a move which had started to yield its desired result.

But can this be sustained?