Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, yesterday restated the Federal Government commitment to turn the lessons of CoVID-19 into strong learning points that would help the country grow its economy .
Speaking on the topic Turning COVID-19 Tragedy into an opportunity for a new Nigeria in Abuja Emefiele said there was no need for Nigerians to despair but to rather use it as a spring board to move the country forward.
“For a country of over 200 million people, and projected to be about 450 million in a few decades, we can no longer ignore repeated warnings about the dangers that lie ahead if we do not begin to depend largely on what we produce locally, because the security and well-being of our nation is contingent on building a well-diversified and inclusive productive economy.”
He noted that as at June 2014, Nigeria was spending about N1.3 trillion importing rice, fish, wheat and sugar raising questions as to why the country cannot grow these products locally despite its abundant natural resources. He recalled that only a few decades ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of palm oil, cocoa and groundnuts.
He lamented that today Nigeria imports nearly 600,000 metric tonnes of palm oil, whilst Indonesia and Malaysia, two countries that were far behind us in this crop, now combine to export over 90 percent of global demand.
He explained that in 2017, alone, Indonesia earned $12.6 billion from its oil and gas sector but $18.4 billion in from palm oil, stressing that for Nigeria, the pandemic and the immediate response of many of our trading partners suggest it is now more critical than ever that we take back control, not just control over our economy, but also of our destiny and our future.
The CBN boss said that it was in line with this developement that the CBN has indeed created several lending programmes and provided hundreds of billions to smallholder farmers and industrial processors in several key agricultural produce. According to him, these policies are aimed at positioning Nigeria to become a self-sufficient food producer, creating millions of jobs, supplying key markets across the country and dampening the effects of exchange rate movements on local prices. This philosophy has been a consistent theme of the CBN’s policies over the last couple of years.