Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele says the financial regulator is working hard to return Nigeria to the path of a sustainable and diversified economy which the county started with at independence in 1960.
During a special virtual commemoration organised by the THISDAY/ARISE media group in commemoration of Nigeria’s 60th anniversary, Emefiele went back in time to remind Nigeria about its capabilities and how diversified the economy was decades ago.
‘’We are all aware of how extensive investments in cultivation and processing of cocoa helped to increase the wealth base of the south-western region. The proceeds from the sale of cocoa was used to build the famous cocoa house and educational institutions.
“We are also aware of how Nigeria emerged the largest producer of palm oil in the world with a 43 per cent market share in the 1960s. The sale of palm oil supported extensive investment in infrastructure in the eastern part of the country, while in the northern region we can recall how the famous groundnut pyramids provided a significant portion of Nigeria’s export revenue,’’ Emefiele said.
The CBN governor rued the fact that after crude oil was discovered, there was a shift away from diversification and a lot of dependence on crude.
He explained why the country cannot continue to depend on this finite product, saying it has exposed Nigeria to the volatility that comes with fluntations in the price of the price of the commodity, with attendant negative impact on the country’s foreign exchange and reserves.
The CBN governor said he is determined to encourage Nigeria’s return to a sustainable economic diversification and less reliance on oil.
According to Emefiele, the CBN has instituted programmes to aid the revival of farming activities across the country, while imports of staples such as rice, tomatoes, cotton and palm oil have significantly declined.
“We have seen a corresponding increase in the cultivation of these products locally. These increase in output is contributing to improvement in the welfare of Nigerian farmers and has enabled agro processors and manufacturing firms to rely on local inputs to meet their raw material needs for manufacturing.”
Speaking further on some of the recent CBN actions in 2020, Emefiele said the N3.5 trillion CBN stimulus program was to promote macroeconomic stability and strengthen economic growth, following the impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria’s economy.
“We must do more to produce more of what we eat, and eat what we grow while enabling investment in other critical sectors such as ICT and creative industry. Improvement in output across these vital areas will help curb inflation, support job creation and diversify our sources of foreign exchange.”
The CBN chief concluded that the regulator stands ready to support Nigerians who are willing to engage in such diversified investments that will build and strengthen the country’s productive base.