Uche Usim, Nsukka
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on Friday said his second tenure will consolidate on the economic growth already recorded, even as he promised economic saboteurs hell. Speaking in Nsukka where he bagged a honorary doctorate degree in Business Administration, the CBN Governor expressed joy that the country was out of recession.
He said: “If you don’t respect the economic policies of this country, and you fall short of the expectations of our economic policies as an economic saboteur, you will be dealt with. Given this opportunity now, we will make it very difficult for people to circumvent economic policies. Policies that are meant to diversify our economy will be pursued very aggressively. We will also pursue policies that would help to create jobs for our children. So, we must learn to respect our policies”
Emefiele said there was need to rejoice because the Nigerian economy has come out of recession and planted on growth trajectory.
“Yes, we agreed that growth numbers are good, we have checked inflation, we have brought inflation down. We are talking about price stability, we must do something to improve growth.” He said the bank management will continue to galvanize a plethora of factors to continually drive down inflation.
“What we did to reduce inflation was to reduce imports, especially of products that can be manufactured here in Nigeria and we will continue to do that. But I think it is important to keep on saying that Nigeria belongs to all of us and that we have a role to play to make sure things get better. Get better in the sense that I will also emphasize that Nigerian policy makers are good at developing policies but the biggest challenge of the Nigerian economic policy is that people try circumventing policies”, he noted.
The CBN Governor revealed that part of the stability programmes of the apex bank was the introduction of the Investors and Exporters foreign exchange window (I&E), which transactions have hit $48 billion.
Emefiele, while delivering his lecture titled “From Recession to Growth: The Story of Nigeria’s Recovery from the 2016 Economic Recession” noted that the nation’s foreign exchange reserves has risen to $45bn in April 2019 from $23bn in October 2016.
According to him: “Nigeria’s current stock of external reserves is now able to finance nine months of current import commitments. With improved availability of foreign exchange, the exchange rate at the I&E FX window has remained stable over the past 24 months at an average N360/$, and the parallel market exchange rate has appreciated from N525/$ in February 2017 to N360/$ today”.
Emefiele admonished Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions to cement their research and development arms to come up with various programmes and projects that can deepen the economy.
He further revealed that with the establishment of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the country has been able to save over 800 million dollars due to decline in the importation of rice.
“So far the programme has supported more than 1,059,604 small holder farmers across all the 36 states of Nigeria, in cultivating 16 different commodities over 1.114 million hectares of farmland. It has also supported the creation of over 2.5 million jobs across the agricultural value chain. A key emphasis was placed on improving rice production, given the considerable weight importation of rice had on Nigeria’s import bill,” he said.
He said because GDP growth remained slow, the CBN would give support to domestic production of goods in the country which according to him was the way to improve economic growth.
“Addressing the constraints of farmers, SMEs and manufacturers will be critical in order to drive sustainable growth of the Nigerian economy and reduce our reliance on proceeds from the sale of crude oil.
“In addition, there is need to forge partnerships between Universities, Research Institutions, the Private sector and Public sector institutions.
“This will aid in developing and implementing solutions that will support productivity in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors to build a sustainable productive base for the nation,” he said.
In his remarks at the event, the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba called on philanthropists and alumni of the University to join hands with the Federal Government in funding in the school.
Ozumba said that UNN had a couple of innovative ideas which if developed will create jobs and add to the country’s economic development.
“As a Vice-Chancellor, I have a first-hand experience of the consequences of the poor funding being experienced by universities in the country. Universities all over the world receive huge periodic support from donors, philanthropists and alumni to fund their research and implement the development agenda of such universities. I urge us all to remain committed to the task of preserving the traditions and standards for which our university is known for,” he said.