James Emejo in Abuja
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has tasked policy makers in all sectors of the economy, particularly political leaders who had witnessed “the good old days” in the country, to take up the responsibility of ensuring that the system works again.
Speaking 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 over the weekend, he said the failure of the country to implement its development plans alongside the Asians tigers,in the 1960s, was partly responsible for its current travails.
The CBN boss also said he would like to be remembered as one who did his best to get the country working again by the time retires from public office and challenged other public office holders to have similar mindset.
Emefiele who went briefly outside his written address to dwell on the moral burden, which all public office holders should have said: “It will be selfish for those of us who saw this country when it was good, being in a position of policy-making, to allow the current bad trend to continue.
“We owe it as a responsibility as policy makers, whether in the educational sector, in the banking sector, in the political arena to see to it that you contribute your best, your quota towards changing the situation for the better in our country.”
He said:” I have had the opportunity of traveling out of the country. Some of you who know Dubai can imagine what Dubai was 20 years ago. Today, Dubai is a tourist attraction to anybody. Let’s leave Dubai. Some of us who read economics during the Asian crisis, 1997 to 2000/2001, know the kind of crisis that hit the Far East countries- the Asian countries. They were so badly hit but out of adversity, they turned their situation round.
“Those of you who read, you can go and read the history of the Malaysian economy or the history of the Indonesian economy, their development plan arrangements.”
“Nigeria started development planning with Malaysia and Indonesia and some of the developing countries in about 1960/1961. They have moved on with their development plan but Nigeria receded with its development plan.
“And hence, the reason we are where we are today. We need to beat our chest as policy makers whether in education, in politics, in banking and tell yourself that you want to reverse the situation.
“It is unthinkable and I have been abused when we proposed exclusion of certain items, that I just went I to a room and found different things and I took toothpicks and I said we should not import toothpicks into Nigeria and that am I not ashamed that I am picking toothpick?
“And true; they may be correct. Because what does it take to produce toothpicks, ladies and gentlemen? Toothpicks machine can be imported for less than $50,000…and yet Nigeria was importing toothpicks.”
“Also, pencil that is used in writing, Nigeria imports pencil. What does it take to produce pencil, ladies and gentlemen? Go to Ebonyi State, you have Lead in large quantity and today, Lead is being exported out of Ebonyi State. That is what we did to our country.
“But what am I doing at this lecture? I am trying to say, in the midst of these adversity lies opportunities and all it takes is for us to stand and tell yourself that you want to do something for your country.”
“You want to sow something for yourself and for your country by extension. We express regret over what is happening today because we said things have gone bad but can you please stand and tell yourself in the next 15 to 20 years, we pray that we are able to turn things around- when people are beginning to talk about policy makers of today- that they will say positive things about what you have done for your country.”
“And I tell myself that I will try as much as possible. By the next 20 years, perhaps I am in my garden or in my village resting and then people are expressing regrets over what policy makers didn’t do. I will beat myself and say I did my best,” Emefiele explained.