The Senate confirmation of Emefiele: A step in the right direction

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President Muhammadu Buhari last week wrote to the Senate, announcing his renewal of the appointment of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, for a second term of five years.

According to the letter by the President, the reappointment of Emefiele for the second term is, “In view of the expiration of the first tenure of the current Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on June 2, 2019, and pursuant to the provisions of Section 8 (1) and (2) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007.”

Majority of Nigerians across all sections of the country, received the news of Emefiele’s reappointment with joy, because of great achievements the 11th CBN governor recorded in his barely five years at the helm of affairs.

Emefiele  was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan on June 3, 2014.  Prior to his appointment, he served as Chief Executive officer and Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc. He also served as Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc and as Executive Director in charge of Corporate Banking, Treasury, Financial Control and Strategic Planning of the bank and has been on the Management team since inception. Emefiele has over eighteen years of banking experience.

Under his leadership, the CBN has made giant strides in consolidating the economy of the country through sound, functional, effective and efficient monetary policies. For instance, he held forth on the economy when the hiatus caused by the delay in the appointment of  ministers, particularly the Minister of Finance, almost caused harm on the economy.

He became the governor of CBN at a time when  the economy was sliding into the murky waters  of negative growth and had to battle so many challenges. The economic holocaust that hit many countries of the world including Nigeria in his first two years as governor,  led to the plummeting of the country’s reserves as crude oil price fell to a point where it dropped  significantly.

As a result, it became clear to all and sundry that something calamitous was about to hit the economy of the country which depended almost 90 per cent or even more on oil revenue. Crude oil price which

averaged $100 per barrel for five straight years from 2009 to middle of 2014, dropped as low as $28 by  February of 2016.

To make matters worse for many emerging and frontier markets including Nigeria, there was also the shock of the United States normalization which took about $40 billion away from these markets back to the US by the last quarter of 2016. There were also geopolitical tensions across the world and within Nigeria which affected the flow of funds. All these led to negative growth, and by the third quarter of 2016 it climaxed to a negative 2.3 per cent.

The period also saw inflation rose astronomically. By January 2016, inflation was just nine per cent, but by January 2017, prices have gone up and inflation had hit up to 18 per cent and Nigerians became worried.

Despite all these challenges, Emefiele  and his team went to work in a bid to  building a resilient financial system that can serve the growth and development needs of the country. They came up with alternative measures to check inflation, stabilize the Naira and shore up the economy.

For ease of doing business, he introduced investors and exporters window while directing banks to sell forex to customers over the counter for Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), medical and education bills.

With support from the Bankers Committee, the apex bank also introduced financing initiatives for farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The CBN also created window for the Inter-bank/Wholesale, Invisible, Small & Medium Enterprise (SME). The Bureau De Change and Parallel market operators were also allowed to operate  in the new Foreign Exchange  (Forex) regime. The response of the Governor and his team resulted in great stability in the forex market, leading to remarkable rise in foreign reserve (about $47.3 billion in April, 2018) and rise in capital inflow – $12.2 billion in 2017, representing increase of $7,104.4 million or 138.7 per cent, compared with the figure recorded in 2016.

In agriculture, the Governor has done remarkably well. For instance, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), had benefitted millions of farmers across the country. The Programme was aimed at creating a

linkage between anchor companies involved in processing and small holder farmers of key agricultural commodities. Its thrust was the provision of farm inputs in kind and cash to small holder farmers to boost production, stabilise inputs supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance on food prices.

More so, there is also improvement in purchasing managers index (56.7 per cent as at March, 2018) as well as rally in stock market capitalization. The CBN has maintained its weekly intervention in the

forex market to the tune of over $18.1 billion since February 2017. The economy exited recession in the Q2  of 2017, while inflation dropped to 12.5 per cent in April 2018, from a high of 18.72 per cent in January 2016 and currently, it stands at 11.25 per cent.

It is on the heels of all these achievements that we make bold to state that the purported video making the rounds about selective conversation of top management team of the apex bank and the alleged

missing or stolen N500 billion, is nothing but a smear campaign by enemies of the country, who are hell bent in ensuring that excellence and merit are expunged from our cultural dictionary as a people.

The explanation given about the said missing money by the apex bank, sounds genuine and understandable. We wonder why some elements are making muse out of it, even when the Federal Ministry of Finance has not come out to counter what the CBN has said.

We join All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and other well-meaning Nigerians to appreciate the Senate for confirming Emefiele as the CBN Governor for a second term in office,  on Thursday, without any rancor or antagonism.

The action of the Senate is a corroboration of the faith, confidence and trust that majority of Nigerians have in the Governor and  his leadership. We urge all and sundry to support the Governor to continue his economic recovery policy for the best interest of the nation.

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