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After $1.8bn Inflow Last Week, Cardoso Insists Nigeria’s Economy Has Positive Outlook

“I am confident that we will get out of this and the foreign exchange market will begin to moderate itself.”

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, on Sunday, said despite the apparent gloomy picture of the country’s economy, the future was bright and positive, especially in the light of recent inflow of $1.8 billion.

The positive assessment came as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, said the hardship being experienced by Nigerians would, undoubtedly, lead to a better tomorrow, with drop in the cost of living.

However, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria expressed concern over the rising hardship in the country.

Similarly, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar lamented that the President Bola Tinubu administration was not “ready to open itself to sound counsel, as well as control internal bleedings occasioned by corruption and poorly negotiated foreign loans”.

But the presidency faulted Atiku, saying he muddled up facts in an attempt to rubbish the foreign exchange policy of the Tinubu administration.

At the same time, Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed lamented that the current free fall of the naira against the dollar has put his government’s plans in jeopardy.

That was as the African Development Bank (AfDB) warned that Nigeria, Ethiopia, Angola, and Kenya risked social unrest owing to rising prices of fuel and other commodities.

Cardoso, who spoke on Sunday, during the opening of the plenary session of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at their secretariat in Abuja, said with the policy reforms being implemented by the federal government, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

As a mark of the positive economic prospect, Cardoso said the country received an inflow of about $1.8 billion last week.

He maintained that the positive outlook had been confirmed by several international economic rating organisations, such International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Fitch Ratings.

The CBN governor disclosed that the national monetary policy meeting would be convened this week to take decisions on how to further deepen the economic reforms and make them more result-oriented.

He said, “That positive outlook comes from the fact that a series of reforms have been made by the federal government and the central bank, which are now paying off in such a way that international investors are coming back in again.

“Recently, as a result of some of the particular reforms that the central bank came in with, over the course of the last week, $1.8 billion came into the market.

“As long as we can sustain a positive trajectory, I am confident that we will get out of this and the foreign exchange market will begin to moderate itself.

“In another week or so, we will have the Monetary Policy Committee meeting, a very critical meeting which helps to direct the course of the economy.”

On the challenges currently facing Nigeria’s economy, Cardoso said the country needed to take measures to actualise the vision of becoming a producing nation, far from the present consumer attitude. 

He said a lot of money had been pumped into the economy through “Ways and Means”, which were presently contributing to the inflationary trend the country was witnessing.

According to him, “A lot of supply has gone into the system, over a period of time, unfortunately. And that goes back to all the things we’ve been talking about Ways and Means and I’m sure there’s nobody here in this room that has never had a concept of Ways and Means. I’m sure there’s nobody.

“We’ve been talking about it over a period of time. And quite frankly, it has come to haunt us through so much liquidity going into a system in a relatively short space of time. And that in itself has fuelled the inflationary pressures, which we all have the witnessing of recent.

“Undoubtedly, Nigeria is going through challenging times on the economic front and this is not something that will be new to anybody.  Reflecting on this, I wonder if, perhaps, things could have been done differently earlier.

“And what do I mean by that? You’ve got to move as a country beyond being a consumer nation.

“And it is something that we, as Nigerians, have been talking about for so long, for so many years, for decades. But, really, we’ve not been able to actualise that. That’s something very important.

“The other thing, of course, is to moderate appetite for foreign goods. And that’s closely related to what I had said earlier with respect to becoming a producer nation.

“Modulating appetite, because at the end of the day, many of the things you see and many of the things that bother a lot of people with respect to foreign exchange is all essentially down to demand and supply.”

The CBN governor said the country’s economy was on the path of recovery, adding that several credit rating organisations, including IMF and Fitch, have attested to this.

He stated, “Indeed, there is hope. It’s amazing to me. I must say that while we find a lot of Nigerians embracing what they call the Japa syndrome, the foreign investors are coming in.

“Foreign investors are coming in and you can take it from somebody, who sees this all the time. They come to us all the time. Foreign investors come all the time. They ask the right questions.

“They make their notes, they go away. A month later, they come back again. They monitor progress the way they come back again, and as we have consistently enacted, setting policies they’ve seen.

“They put their money in the international rating agencies standard and Fitch, even the World Bank, has raised us from stable to more positive because they’ve seen it. They’ve seen it.

“These are not people or interest groups that will go and write something for the sake of writing. It’s very, very difficult many times to be able to defend some of the questions they ask.

“Once they see it, they analyse it. They test their hypotheses and then they come up with their own conclusions and they can see a positive trajectory.”

In his remarks, Akume said the federal government was already addressing the challenges and hardship in the country and, soon, Nigerians would witness a drop in transportation cost as well as prices of goods.

Akume listed several interventions that the present administration had made to cushion the current hardship in the country and address insecurity.

He stated, “Let me, at this point, place on the record that despite the humongous inherited and emerging socio-economic challenges, the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has in less than nine months in the saddle recorded positive accomplishments in diverse sector.

“This administration inherited a daunting economic landscape, necessitating decisive action to alter our nation’s downward trajectory. With unwavering dedication, we are striving towards a prosperous, healthy, and globally competitive Nigeria.”

Akume said the bishops’ conference was apt, adding that the country must remain steadfast, “Renewing our faith in God’s provision and protection.”

Earlier, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, in his opening speech, said the church was worried about the prevailing hardship in the country and government’s apparent inability to address the challenges.

Ugorji said the federal government’s reform agenda was fast becoming counterproductive, adding that government’s efforts at addressing insecurity have been a failure.

The CBCN president said, “No doubt, the government is trying its very best to fix our battered economy and security outfits. If we have to be very frank with ourselves and not wallow in self-delusion, we must admit that we are faced with a case where therapy is worse than the disease.

“The government’s reform agenda is turning out to be counterproductive. Despite the efforts of the government to boost our economy, our nation has continued to sink economically deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit.”

Ugorji said what was expected was a drastic cut in the cost of governance for those in charge of governance, but this was not forthcoming, as politicians had continued to live in affluence and waste.

Regarding the fight against corruption, the church said the government needed to sit up to tackle the increasing rate of corruption. 

They said unless the country’s anti-corruption agencies were able to conclusively prosecute and jail those accused of corruption, their effort would remain a mere dream.

The bishops said they were maintaining the position of the church that there would be no blessing of same sex marriages or union in Africa.

Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Archbishop Metropolitan, Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, canvassed the unity of all God’s people, emphasising the need for interfaith dialogue to forge greater harmony.

Ndukuba also said the current hardship in the country should be given a priority, adding, “If we do not address the issue of biting hunger in the land, there will be no church.”

According to him, the church must speak out on the challenges facing Nigerians.

On his part, Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma appealed to Nigerians to show understanding with the government as it grappled with the economic challenges.

Uzodinma said the harsh economic situation was a global thing, adding that with the right attitude, Nigeria would be able to overcome it in no distant time.

Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, solicited the support of the government in the church’s effort to provide education and health facilities for the people.

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