The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has given assurance that the apex bank would strongly support the Federal Government in its diversification drive to wards making the economy stronger and widening the scope for productive engagements of millions of Nigerians. Emefiele, however, predicted that Nigeria might slide into serious economic quagmire following her uncontrolled astronomical population growth. He urged Federal Government to attach premium to palm oil production, saying its price is higher than crude oil’s price.
The CBN governor spoke, yesterday, when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for screening for his reappointment for a second term. He hinted that the price of barrel of palm oil in the international market was higher than that of crude oil now which would have been fetching the country huge foreign exchange earnings, if not that it had been abandoned since the 1970s when the oil boom occurred in Nigeria. He said: “Aside from the Anchor Borrowers Programme, we are also looking at special programmes targeted at wholesale growth of agricultural sector in Nigeria.
“For some of you who are very good in doing calculations, go and check today: the price of a barrel of palm oil is more than the price of a barrel of crude oil. So, what happened to our country? “There are countries when they have the opportunities in agriculture and also have opportunities in the crude sector, they didn’t let their guards down. But unfortunately, we did and that is what we are paying for today. So that when there are some external shocks in the crude oil market, we sneeze it, but we only smile when the market is good.
“We will grow that market back again. And after that, we will go into cocoa in the South-West area to be sure that what we are doing permeates all the nooks and crannies of this country. Because we think we owe Nigerians this. “We just came back from the IMF/World Bank programme in April. And in the World Bank’s/IMF’s World Economic Outlook, Nigeria is positioned as a country whose population will grow and rise to over 425 million people by the year 2050. That will present Nigeria as a country with the third largest population in the world after China and India and indeed surpassing the United States of America in population.
“I worry and I do think that we all should worry that a lot of work needs to be done to make sure that we are able to put in place policies that will make life good for these 425 million people when we are the third largest population in the world.” On efforts to generate employment, Emefiele said: “So, we from the CBN from the monetary policy side, have come to realisation that using the instrumentality of the Anchor Borrowers Programme where access to credit is being provided to our masses all over the country, that it will be a way to generate employment and boost economic activity amongst our rural population.
“I visited one of the Asian countries recently and happy with what I saw, but I came out of the country sad. Sad because I could see the level of development that this country has achieved over the last 50 years. And I cast my mind back and look at my country Nigeria that what have we achieved? “This is what gives me the push that at my age of 57, I saw this country when it was good.
That I am looking at the country today, I don’t want to say it is bad, but I want to say that we have a lot of work to do, because the country has, no doubt, receded somewhat. “So from our side in the monetary policy, we will do everything possible to ensure that with the mandate that is bestowed on us, we will push this country forward.”
He also made clarifications on the exchange rate policy of the government which he said is not multiple as being alleged. His words: “A couple of people have raised issues that we have multiple exchange rates. And we have said we do not have multiple exchange rates.
When you talk of multiple exchange rates, you talk about divergence in exchange rate. Substantially today, our rates have converged around N360 to $1. “…So, you will find multiple windows because the rates at which foreign exchange is traded through all these windows are substantially the same. So, there is no multiple exchange rates, but I will admit there is multiple windows and it is for a good reason.”
The CBN Governor said that Nigeria would be the third largest populated country in the world by 2050 with projected population of 425 million people from her present 200 million population.
He asserted that such rapid population growth rate must be met with development-driven monetary and economic policies devoid of sabotage in anyway, to be able to escape the predicted doom. He said: “The road ahead for Nigeria is still rough and very tough. But I want to appeal to all Nigerians that a time comes in the history of a country where you have to learn to respect the policies and laws of a country. “Part of the problem that we have seen in Nigeria is lack of respect for the policies of this country. Nigeria is very good at putting in place policies that are sound and workable.
“But implementation has always been almost zero. And it is arising because we see sabotage activities. We see people when policies are made, where they pick up the pieces of paper about the policy, what they think about is how do we circumvent this policy?
“The CBN, if given this mandate, will push very hard to ensure that those who seek to undermine the policies of Nigeria without respecting the laws of this country will be brought to book under any circumstances. And that is why I said please pray for us because the road ahead is still rough.” In his remarks, Chairman of the senate committee, Senator Rafiu Adebayo, commended Emefiele’s effort in stabilising the economy through various initiatives, and urged him to put in more effort in ensuring that some economic challenges currently bedevilling the country were tackled. The Senate had, on May 9, read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari requesting the confirmation of the CBN governor for a second term.
Source: By Chukwu David