By Ignatius Okorocha
There are strong indications that with the rising population and the penchant for sabotaging government policies on economic growth and development, Nigerians may be in for tough times ahead, said the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), Dr. Godwin Emefiele .
According to the Nigeria according Emefiele Nigeria will be the third largest populated country in the world by 2050 with projected population of 425million people from her present 200million population .
Such rapid population growth rate, the CBN Governor told the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions Wednesday, must be met with development-driven monetary and economic policies devoid of sabotage in anyway .
“The road ahead for Nigeria 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, where 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 hat s why I said please pray for us because the road ahead is still rough”, he said .
The apex bank he added, will strongly support the Federal Government in its diversification drive towards making the economy stronger and widening the scope for productive engagements of millions of Nigerians .
He specifically pointed out that the price of barrel of palm oil in the international market is higher than that of crude oil now which would have been fetching the country huge foreign exchange earnings , had it not been abandoned since the 1970s when the oil boom occurred.
He said: “Aside from the Anchor Borrowers programme, we are also looking at special programmes targeted at wholesale growth of agricultural sector in Nigeria. Aside from rice and other small good crop markets, we have started looking at palm oil. Because we believe that this country has a lot of potentials in palm oil.
“If you think about what this country was in the 50’s and 60’s, Nigeria being a country at that time that controlled 40 percent market share in palm oil industry, exporting its palm oil to different parts of the world. But because we found crude oil, we receded and abandoned it.
“For some of you who are very good in doing calculations, go and check today: the price of a barrel of palm oil is note than the price of a barrel of crude oil. So, what happened to our country?
“There are countries when they have the opportunities in agriculture and also have opportunities in the crude sector, they didn’t let their guards down. But unfortunately we did and that is what we are paying for today. So that when there are some external shocks in the crude oil market, we sneeze it but we only smile when the market is good.
“We will grow that market back again. And after that, we will go into cocoa in the South West area to be sure that what we are doing permeates all the nooks and crannies of this country. Because we think we owe Nigerians this.
“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 the year 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 out in place policies that will make life good for this 425 million people when we are the third largest population in the world.
“So, we from the Central Bank of Nigeria from the monetary policy side, have come to realisation that using the instrumentality of the Anchor Borrowers Programme where acesss to credit is being provided to our masses all over the country, that it will be a way to generate employment and boost economic activity amongst our rural population.
“I visited one of the Asian countries recently and happy with what I saw but I came out of the country sad. Sad because I could see the level of development that this country has achieved over the last 50 years. And I cast my mind back and look at my country Nigeria that 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. That I am looking at the country today, 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 somewhat.
“So from our side in the monetary policy, we will do everything possible to ensure that with the mandate that is bestowed on us, we will push this country forward”.
He made clarifications on the exchange rate policy of the government which he said is not multiple as being alleged .
His words : “A couple of people have raised issues that we have multiple exchange rate. And we have said we do not have multiple exchange rate. When you talk of multiple exchange rate, you talk about divergence in exchange rate. Substantially today, our rates have converge around N360 to $1.
” Because the investors and exporters will know which is the dominant market for procurement of foreign exchange today, it hovers around that rate. But what you will find is multiple windows and we don’t have any apologies for it.
“When you talk about multiple windows, the Central Bank has a responsibility to provide foreign exchange to everybody. What we saw that resulted in us creating multiple eindows, we want to make sure that those who seek to travel who will normally go to our banks to ask for foreign exchange and the banks will turn them away, and these people will seek to go to black market to buy foreign exchange, we said no.
“We will allocate specific sums of money to you to allocate to people who want to travel. We will allocate specific sums of money to you to allocate to those who are into the small and medium enterprise business. And we will allocate funds to you for you to give to those who are in your corporate sectors.
“So, you will find multiple windows because the rates at which foreign exchange is traded through all these windows are substantially the same. So, there is no multiple exchange rate but I will admit there is multiple windows and it is for a good reason