The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday said that the provision of cheap financing to boost local production of priority goods in critical sectors of the economy remained the key to achieving sustainable growth.
This, he said, would reduce reliance on foreign imports, which constitute a drain on the economy.
He spoke while delivering his keynote address, titled: “From Recession to Growth: The Story of Nigeria’s Recovery from the 2016 Economic Recession”, at the special convocation of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State.
Emefiele, also called for significant increase in the policy buffers, including the fiscal measures to increase the external reserve.
He said proactive fiscal actions, specifically, infrastructure investment was also required to enhance economic growth.
The governor further emphasised the need to diversify the revenue structure of the federal government to reduce its dependence on direct proceeds from sale of crude oil.
Meanwhile, the Governing Council of the university, yesterday awarded Emefiele with a Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his outstanding performance in the management of the economy, especially his role in steering the country out of recession and making unprecedented interventions in key sectors of the economy, particular agriculture, where he was described as “Father of the Anchor Borrowers Programme”.
However, the CBN governor noted that universities also have a considerable role to play in working with the private and public sector in supporting research and development of solutions that can be applied to enhance the growth of the economy.
He said the ivory towers needed to enhance their curriculum, so as to equip the students with the skill sets that were required to support the country’s growth in this digital era.
The apex bank boss stated that though economic challenges still persist, such as ensuring that the pace of GDP growth remains well ahead of annual population growth at 2.7 per cent, this could only be achieved if the country continued to support efforts aimed at improving domestic production of goods in the local.
He said his second term as CBN governor would be used to aggressively pursue policies that were meant to diversify the economy.
He reiterated his warning to economic saboteurs saying, the CBN “will make it very difficult for people to circumvent economic policies.”
He urged Nigerians to learn to respect policies that tend to boost job creation for the people.
In an interview with journalists, briefly after the ceremony, Emefiele said:
“I must thank God that we are out of recession.
“We at the monetary authority, Yes, we agreed that growth numbers are good, we have checked inflation, we have brought inflation down. I think in this next phase, what can we do to consolidate our growth? How can we as monetary authority do something?
“Yes, we are talking about price stability; we must do something to improve growth.
What we did to bring inflation down- We must continue to do that. What did we do to reduce our imports? We will continue to do it.”
He further added: “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 emphasise that Nigerian policy makers are good at developing policies but the biggest challenge of the Nigerian economic policy is that people try circumventing policies.
“Given this opportunity now, we will make it very difficult for people to circumvent economic policies.
“If you don’t respect the economic policies of this country, and you fall short of our economic policies as an economic saboteur, you will be dealt with.”
Nonetheless, the CBN boss, also a UNN alumnus, while responding to the award conferred on him, thanked the university administration for the kind gesture, and described unemployment as the biggest challenge currently confronting the country.
Citing a World Bank report, which had projected the population to increase to about 450 million by 2050, he called on the leadership to strive to improve the well-being of people around them.
He said unless the issue of unemployment was tackled, the political class themselves might not be able to live comfortably by 2050.
Emefiele charges Nigerians to embrace farming
At the Special Convocation, the Central Bank governor also called on Nigerians to embrace farming in order to ensure adequate food for local consumption thereby dealing with the perennial challenge of dependence on foreign products.
The CBN boss said that it was to encourage Nigerians to go into farming that they came up with the Anchor Borrowers Project initiative to enable farmers obtain loans for farming.
Emefiele challenged Nigerians to grow their own fish and eat Nigerian fish instead of importing them, pointing out that Norway had been very good at producing fish because they made it a business to ensure adequate fish.
He noted that if adequate attention was paid to agriculture, it would not only feed the nation, but also bring in more revenue other than oil, that Nigeria is a country of ample opportunities if only we look into them.
“Nigeria is a country of good opportunities. We should allow it go to waste,” he said and called on universities to collaborate to see that agriculture and manufacturing thrive in Nigeria.