The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has assured Nigerians that the current recession they are facing would end before the end of the year, even as it blamed over-dependence on importation for the problem.
CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, at the weekend while delivering a lecture entitled: “The Dilemma of Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Management in a Recession: Potential Options for Nigeria,” at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), explained that he was optimistic that with all the interventions of the Federal Government, the CBN and other authorities, “the country will be out of recession before the end of 2017.”
He stated that no country of the world could have survived by the kind of importation of foreign goods Nigeria experienced, stressing that Nigerians began to feel the negative part of the system when there was not enough resources to sustain the importation regime. The event, which featured distinguished awards to some eminent persons including the President of Southeast, South-South Professionals, Mr. Emeka Ugwuoju, was the second homecoming of the school’s Department of Economics.
According to Emefiele who graduated from the University: “In January 2017, inflation was 18.8 per cent, it is now down to 16.24 per cent. Last quarter, which was fourth quarter of 2016 growth, was negative 1.72 per cent. First quarter of 2017 growth had improved to negative 1.52 per cent. “What that means is that we have an improvement in growth by about 1.2 per cent. If we see another 1.2 per cent growth in the second quarter we are out of recession.”
He noted that with the enthusiasm shown by the Federal Government in the area of agriculture, “with support for local farmers and private sector investments in agriculture, I believe that barring any other shock the prices of foodstuff in the markets will come down.” The CBN boss, expressed regrets that the country missed the opportunity of being a great economy when it abandoned agriculture which was its backbone between 1960s and 1970s for oil. “In those good days the South East and South South were known for palm oil, the South West for cocoa and the North for groundnut but with the advent of oil we abandoned agriculture.’’
He noted that the idea of importing all that the country consumes was responsible for the current recession. “How do we justify the importation of items like apple, cucumber and eggs?’’from South Africa; beef from Zambia and toothpicks from China? “These are items we can locally produce and used money in importing these items to beef up local industries that will in turn create employments for our youths. “We must take cognizance of the fact that imports are leakages to every economy.”
The CBN governor said the apex bank was aware of the pains Nigerians are going through as a result of the economic recession and said this is the opportunity needed to look inward to diversify the economy and come out of the recession stronger. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, expressed appreciation for the governor of the apex bank for accepting the invitation to deliver the lecture and described the CBN governor as one of the best alumni of the university. Ozumba said the importance of economics in any county could not be over-emphasis, the decision of economists determines the progress or failure of any country.