The Central Bank of Nigeria says it is floating the embattled naira currency, a long-delayed move to control a spiraling crisis in Africa's biggest economy.

Central Bank Gov. Godwin Emefiele says the naira rate will be "market-driven."

Critical foreign currency shortages caused by slumping oil prices forced Wednesday's policy change. President Muhammadu Buhari for months had resisted pressure. The bank had defended the naira at a rate of 197 to the dollar while the currency was trading at up to 370 on the parallel market .

Companies have gone bust, tens of thousands of workers have been retrenched and militant attacks have shrunk oil production as Nigeria's economy contracted for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Analysts are warning of expected interest rate hikes to rein in double-digit inflation.