Nigeria has receded, Emefiele declares

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has reviewed the nation’s economic development, particularly in the last 50 years, and submitted that “the country has receded.”According to Emefiele who appeared before the Senate for screening in respect of his re-appointment, times ahead would be very tough and rough too.He said that upon his return from a particular Asian country of recent, he became sad that Nigeria had not recorded the kind of progress it ought to have recorded.

“I entered that country happy but I came out of the country sad. Sad because I could see the level of development that the country has achieved over the last 50 years. And I cast my mind back and look at my country Nigeria and asked: 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. I am looking at the country today and I am saying ‘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.”

Emefiele expressed worries about the country’s population growth rate without viable economic base as well as serious propensity for improvement.“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 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.”He expressed optimism that the CBN might be able to reverse the trend. “We from the CBN, from the monetary policy side, have come to the realisation that using the instrumentality of the Anchor Borrowers Programme where access to credit is being provided to our masses all over the country, will be a way to generate employment and boost economic activity amongst our rural population.”

The CBN governor lamented what he described as willful disrespect and sabotage of government economic policies, calling for prayers to reverse the ugly trend in the economy.“I thank you for praying for me because we need it. I say this because the road ahead 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, when they pick up the pieces of paper about the policy, what they think about is how do we circumvent this policy?”

“The Central Bank of Nigeria, 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 pray for us because the road ahead is still rough” the CBN boss added.

At another forum yesterday, Emefiele said the Federal Government had so far earned a total of N35,240,916,338.54 as stamp duties.He disclosed this while testifying before the Abubakar Yunusa Ahmad-led House of Representatives adhoc committee probing into allegation of non-remittances of trillions of naira stamp duties to the federation account.

Represented by the CBN’s Acting Director of Banking Services, Mr. Abubakar Kure, Emefiele told the lawmakers that the apex bank was yet to remit the monies generated into the federation account as at February 2016 due to a subsisting matter before the Supreme Court. Emefiele who claimed that commercial banks complied with CBN’s directive on the remittance to his outfit said there was no iota of truth that trillions of naira had so far been generated from stamp duties since 2015.

Meanwhile, experts have blamed rise in the price of food for the rebound in the nation’s inflation rate with the posting of 11.37 per cent for April. This figure was up by 0.94 per cent figure in the previous month’s 11.25 per cent as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).Before the rebound, there had been a steady but gradual decline in the monthly price level from December 2018 as the rate dropped to 11.44 per cent to 11.37 per cent in January and further dropped to 11.31 per cent in February and again to 11.25 per cent in March.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicated that the major driver of the rebound was the food sector in which price rose sharply from 11.45 per cent in March to 11.70 per cent in April as there were slight gains in both the urban and rural indexes rates at the end of the April reading. Aligning with the NBS’s reading, an erudite economist and former director-general of the Nigerian Social and Economic Reconstruction (NISER), Prof. Olu Ajakaiye, attributed the rebound to increase in food price arising from low productivity caused by the face-off between farmers and herders.Ajakaiye, who is now the Executive Director of Ibadan-based African Centre for Shared Development Capacity, urged the Federal Government to up its ante in tackling insecurity to revert the ugly situation.

“The increase is due to rising food price inflation. This is a reflection of supply shock due to security challenges in the food producing areas of the country, as well as the high demand for food items during Easter festive period. Government should seriously address the security challenges in order to prevent further supply shocks which may threaten macro stability,” Ajakaiye said.For Prof. Ken Ife, a lead economic consultant to a number of development partners, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), April was the peak in price rise, the hike was expected and even higher than what the outcome has indicated.

“I had expected a far worse situation as April was about the peak in cyclical rise in price of food/grains as farmers began their planting season. Also the Headline Index, which is all indices less Food Price Index actually declined by 0.94 percent by dropping to 9.3 per cent. On balance, the economy is resilient,” Ife told The Guardian yesterday.

But a development economist, Mr. Odilim Enwegbera, said: “During the general elections, systematic efforts were made to artificially reduce inflation rate. But because it costs a lot to artificially hold down inflation rate, not being able in import-dependent economies like ours is the reason the inflation rate has grown and will continue to grow because there is nothing substantial growing the economy.

“Because changes in the inflation rate are an indicator of how the economy is performing, there is no way our economy will be struggling and you will expect the inflation rate not to be growing, unless it is being artificially raised in an effort to artificially devalue the currency so as to make imports more expensive and locally made good more competitive so that more jobs can be created by increasing local production of goods and services.”

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