“So, we thank you (Emefiele) for your efforts. We note that you have a number of agricultural related businesses and seen that there is large support for agricultural development in Nigeria at this stage.”
While presenting the award, the CEO Forbes Business Solutions, Mike Furlong, said the award was to let the CBN chief know that each year, Forbes Emerging Markets honours a person whose achievements falls within the mission of our organisation, which is to promote further investment in Africa by United States investors.
He listed past winners to include Aliko Dangote, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Bill Delly, adding that today, “we are honoured to welcome Godwin Emefiele to join that club”.
Responding after receiving the award, Emefiele thanked Forbes for finding him worthy of receiving the award, tagged: “Best of Africa” on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
Emefiele said it was most important to thank Nigerians for standing with “us particularly during the very difficult times. I say difficult times then, although I make bold now to say we are out of it. Like you all know, the last three years have been tumultuous not just for Nigeria but the global economy, arising largely from the external shocks that hit, particularly the commodity exporting countries.”
The shocks, he pointed out, led to the plummeting of Nigeria’s reserves as crude oil price fell to a point where it dropped by February 2016, “to as low as $28 per barrel. If you compare this price to the time when it averaged $100 per barrel for five straight years from 2009 to middle of 2014, you will all agree with me that we have gone through a lot.”
He said another shock that hit Nigeria like other countries was the United States normalisation to the point that in the last quarter of 2016, about $40 billion left emerging and frontier markets back to US. He said geopolitical tensions also affected flow of funds, including Nigeria, and these, he pointed out, climaxed when “we recorded negative growth. It also got to a point in the third quarter of 2016 where we got negative 2.3 per cent. We also saw inflation hitting us badly. By January 2016, inflation was just nine per cent, but by January 2017, prices have gone up and inflation had hit up to 18 per cent and Nigerians no doubt became uncomfortable.”
At this point, the CBN chief said, “we at the Monetary Policy Committee felt that at this level, something needed to be done. In a study at the CBN, we came to a conclusion that at the level it would be difficult to stimulate growth. So we decided to take inflation head on.
“We are happy today that we are doing about 16 per cent now and it would be tamed with other policies in place.”
He also spoke on the reserves. By June 2014, Nigeria’s reserves stood at about $37 billion. As a result of the shock, by October 2016, with all the measures we have taken, it dropped to about $23 billion,
“We felt that having taken all the measures so far- currency adjustments three times from N155 to N168 to N197 and above N200, and February this year, a section of the market hit N525, we said something had to be done. But I am happy today that we are here.”
Emefiele praised the foreign investor community for being very supportive, saying “we took some of the decisions that they didn’t like, but I know that we have taken one this time around that excited them. The opening of the Investors’ & Exporters’ Forex Window has been particularly exciting to them.”
He said that in six months, the window has attracted about $10 billion in inflows into Nigeria. “We feel so grateful to them for showing the confidence in Nigeria again. But I think all this also is because President Muhammadu Buhari has always said that: we had unfortunately been hit by this exogenous shock and it had resulted in inflation and plummeting in reserves, but that we needed at some point to look at the items Nigeria imports into the country,” he said.
Emefiele said Nigeria is a big market with 180 million people growing at an average population rate of three per cent annually. “There was a time in Nigeria when we produced everything we were eating. We were producing rice, palm oil etc. Nigeria was the highest producer and exporter of palm oil in the world with over 40 per cent market share sometimes in the 60s and 70s. But unfortunately because we found oil, we decided to take things easy”.
We are delighted we put FX restriction on 41 items and that has increase patronage for local goods.
“Today, companies that require starch and glucose for their pharmaceuticals and formulations patronise Nigerians. This has created jobs for us. That is the spirit of Nigerians. This is part of the reasons the President said we needed to patronise Made-in-Nigeria and I am happy that we are doing this. But I think it is also important that we thank everybody, particularly Nigerians. Yes, we have just managed to exit the recession with a fragile growth of 0.5 per cent; we have seen inflation trending downwards, we have seen exchange rate and reserves looking stronger and firmer. But I think we are determined to continue to push further to see to it that Nigeria returns to its historical growth path”.
He said the new commitment to support agricultural development, will help reduce unemployment.
“Countries that have progressed have done so because they took the agriculture sector very seriously. We are determined to make agriculture the sector where people make money and we have decided to put in place the Anchor Borrowers Programme. Before we introduced the ABP, farmers go to farm rice and all the yield they were getting was one to 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare”.
“After we started the ABP, today we are beginning to see farmers getting yield as high as eight metric tonnes per hectare, reducing their costs and making it possible to make their money in rice cultivation. We have seen that there is a need for us to thing about how do we improve the wealth of our rural community. We started that journey and through rice, we have achieved that,” he stated.
The award ceremony which held on Thursday in Washington D.C, the US capital, was attended by Deposit Money Bank chief executives, including the Managing Director/CEO of Diamond Bank Uzoma Dozie, that of FirstBank of Nigeria, Dr,.Adedotun, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s CEO, Ahmed Kuru, former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Sarah Sanders, the Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Dipeolu and other leaders in private and public sectors and Nigerians in Diaspora. SHARE THIS STORY USING ANY OF THE BUTTON BELOW ⬇ PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW ⬇⬇⬇
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