An Honour Well-deserved

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Chika Amanze-Nwachuku writes that the Forbes’ 2017 Best of Africa Achievement Award bestowed on the Central Bank of Nigeria, Governor, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, is a well-deserved recognition

With amazing determination and willpower, Godwin Emefiele defied the harsh criticisms that trailed his tight monetary policy stance as he remained resolute in his pursuit for a growth-friendly interest rate regime that would help lift the economy out of a biting economic recession.

Nigeria, which derives about 90 per cent of her export earnings from oil, had been hit by lower oil prices, leading to significant drop in government revenues, weakening the Naira and driving up inflation to an 11-year high.

The country eventually slipped into recession in the second quarter of 2016 as the numbers released then by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that the economy contracted 2.06% in the first two quarters of 2016 (between April and June, 2016).

Faced with the challenges of declining oil prices, which snowballed into a foreign exchange crisis, the CBN took a number of countervailing policy actions, including a tight monetary policy in order to stem the dangerously rising inflation and boost forex inflows into the country.

Some economic experts had lauded the CBN’s action as a step in the right direction, insisting that the right thing to do under the circumstances would be to tighten money supply either by increasing the Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) of banks, mopping up money through increased open market operations, or raising the liquidity ratio of banks.

Besides, they noted that if the central bank should succumb to the pressure to reduce interest rates and increase money supply, it would worsen the economic crisis.

But those opposed to Emefiele’s tight monetary policy had advocated an expansionary monetary policy, which they argued would engender rapid economic growth.

Obviously, these critics lost sight of the fact that an expansionary monetary policy, would make the inflation to skyrocket and worsen the very bad economic situation.

Success is determined by hard work and resilience. For Godwin Emefiele, achieving a growth-friendly interest rate regime remained a major priority and this he set out to do in spite of all odds. Emefiele’s monetary policy has without a doubt, helped to return the Nigerian economy to growth part as the NBS announced that, in the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.55% (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession.

The rate of headline year-on-year inflation declined to 15.98 per cent in September, from 16.01 per cent posted in August, representing a 0.03 per cent points drop.

The September drop was the eighth consecutive decline in the rate of headline year-on-year inflation since January 2017.

Therefore it came as no surprise, that Forbes Magazine, in recognition of Emefiele’s immense contributions to stabilising the Nigerian economy, last week in the United States of America, bestowed him with the Forbes’ 2017 ‘Best of Africa Achievement’ award.

Foreign Investment Network (FIN), a UK based global consulting company, and sole representative of Forbes in Nigeria had nominated him for the prestigious award, which was conferred on him on the sidelines of the just concluded annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to the organisers of the award, Emefiele’s enormous contributions to the real sector of the economy and the CBN interventions in the agriculture sector, which have helped to stabilise food prices in the country, were among the considerations for the prestigious award.

The CBN, under Emefiele, Forbes noted, has been very transparent in its policies and has helped to stabilise the country’s economy

“Emefiele is a humble and courageous patriot who had exhibited dexterity and resilience in managing the economy in the turbulence of recession. We noted in particular Mr. Emefiele’s singular courage, commitment and nationalist passion which led to the conception and implementation of the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) which has in just one full year, added over two million tonnes of rice to the national output and created more than half a million of direct jobs”, the organisation noted.

It added: “At a time when other countries, notably Venezuela, Egypt and Angola were reeling under the vagaries of galloping inflation and social strife due to severe exchange rate depreciations occasioned by global commodity price collapse, Emefiele in a most humble, courageous, yet ingenious manner, led the Central Bank of Nigeria to adopt creative and innovative strategies by which Nigeria has avoided currency failure.”

While noting Emefiele’s resilience to keep going in spite of challenges and barrage of criticisms, Mrs. Fayomi said that when FIN was asked to nominate an awardee, “we were at a cross road, knowing that many eminent Nigerians were qualified. But we also did not want to lose sight of Forbes standard for the significance of the award.”

She added: “The nomination team went through a very rigorous selection process and we were at each moment guided by the desire to nominate a person with impeccable records, a personification of hard work, resilience, a person that stirred positive revolution in his career. From our records, today’s awardee- Godwin Emefiele, who is the Governor of Nigeria’s apex bank, has shown strong commitment to economic transformation and fiscal revolution. In the words of Einstein, “success is not achieved merely by a person of success but a person of value”.

 Over the years, Forbes has distinguished itself as a global brand, focusing on business, investments, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle.

FIN and Forbes partnership spans decades and the partners have been able to exposed African entrepreneurs to international partners and also attracted volumes of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the continent in synergy with Forbes International.

Fayomi said: “This award is very significant because it is being conferred on the person who determines the fiscal policies and financial fortunes of Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa and the seventh most populous nation in the world.”

“The strong signal from this award is that Africa at large and Nigeria in particular is the next destination for the next generation of investors. If you are contemplating making the list of Forbes billionaires, then Nigeria is the place to invest. No investor can ignore the incentives and opportunities created by the present administration in Nigeria on the diversification of the economy, she stressed.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Forbes Business Solution, Mike Furlong, stated that every year, his organisation honours person that has been outstanding in promoting investments in Africa.

He noted that Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote had won the award in the past and commended Emefiele for this invaluable contributions to the Nigerian economy.

Also, the President/CEO, Florizelle Liser, CCA commended Emefiele for the award, saying members of the council were delighted with his efforts at the CBN.

“Many members of the CCA represent some of the largest companies and some of the SMEs as well as African companies. We have as many as 19 companies that are members of the CCA and all of our members are really pleased that you have led the effort in economic recovery in Nigeria. We see that things are turning around now and we just want to let you know that those efforts are noted by the business community.

“We also are happy to see the work that is being done on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and we believe they are going to pay off. Many of our members welcome it as an opportunity to see how they can trade more with Nigeria and invest more in Nigeria. So, we thank you for your efforts.

“We note that you have a number of agricultural related businesses. We noticed that there is large support for agricultural development in Nigeria at this stage. So, we just want you to know that there are companies that are ready to partner and bring new technologies and platforms in Nigeria, to help you meet the goals that you and the president, and others have, to meet your goals for agriculture in the country.”

In his remarks after receiving the award, Emefiele urged global investors to take advantage of huge opportunities in the Nigerian economy, saying the environment is good for investment.

“There are very big countries in the world you will visit today and say you want to invest. The returns are not as high as you have in Nigeria. We want to invite you. That for me is the message we have here today. Come to Nigeria, Nigerians will receive you.”