Energy

CBN boss woos foreign investors, insists prospects abound in Nigeria

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has called on Nigerians in the diaspora and other foreign investors to take advantage of the opportunities in the country.

Emefiele insisted that despite the economic challenges, numerous investment opportunities with good returns abound in the country.

This is just as the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has disowned the call by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Emefiele’s resignation.

But speaking at the US-Nigeria Investment Summit held in New York, on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly, Emefiele advised Nigerians in the diaspora to begin to consider investing in their nation.

“Why am I here? I am here to convince those of you in the United States that it is time for us to begin to look back home. The opportunities are there. I know you would say: How do I access credit facilities? Sometimes you find that the difficulty in accessing credit may be a problem, but you can come and start from somewhere because of the numerous opportunities.

“The important thing is that Nigeria is opening up and I can tell you that people all over the world are beginning to think of what they can do with Nigeria and not what they can do for Nigeria. We Nigerians must set examples by folding our sleeves and doing things for ourselves before we can expect others to support us. That is the word I have come with today, that we are determined to do it for ourselves,” the CBN told his audience during his 36 minutes presentation.

Emefiele pointed out that because of the desire to stimulate economic growth in the country, the country’s economic managers recently went to the Presidency and advised the government to take some bold moves.

He listed some of the initiatives to include the ongoing repositioning of the Nigeria Commodity Exchange, the newly established Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (InfraCo) and the upcoming Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC).

He explained: “In the agriculture sector, we found that the big problem we have is the movement of goods from farm to market. It is a logistics and transportation problem. We got approval from the Presidency to reposition the Nigeria Commodity Exchange which plays a pivotal role in the movement of goods from farm to market. Another important move is the creation of the Infraco. You all know that infrastructure has been a problem in Nigeria.

“We are trying to set up a world-class infrastructure to begin to see how to revamp Nigeria’s infrastructure without placing a burden on the federal government. So, the question now is where do you (Nigerians in the diaspora) stand? We would like you to come, join and work with us,” he said.

He reiterated the resolve of the central bank not to allow cryptocurrency transactions in Nigeria’s financial system, just as he expressed excitement about the central bank’s digital currency, the e-Naira, which would be unveiled in a few days.

According to Emefiele, because of activities surrounding Nigeria’s Independence celebration on October 1, the earlier planned launch of the e-Naira on the same date would likely be rescheduled to October 4, 2021.

“The central bank would not want the event to take the shine away from the Independence celebration,” he said.

“We are going to be the first country in Africa to launch a digital currency. It is a novel idea because we think it will facilitate trade, Nigeria being the biggest country in Africa, this will set the tone to tell Africa that we are ready to lead and we would indeed lead in trade and we would make sure that happens. “Between all central bankers in ECOWAS, we are already working on a certain collaboration to make trade, payment and banking system integrate in such a way to set an example on the AfCFTA,” he added.

The central bank governor was optimistic that all the aforementioned initiatives would likely stimulate economic growth, probably higher than population growth, promote prosperity and increase output growth.

Earlier, Emefiele reviewed the performance of the Nigerian economy between 2015 and 2019, he cited the devastating impact of the COVID-19 on the economy and listed various measures adopted by the fiscal and monetary authorities to support households and firms.

“Of course, we took a number of countervailing measures because we felt that there was a very big part responsibility on the part of the government, talking about the fiscal and monetary authorities.

“We saw weakness on the part of the fiscal because the fiscal space was very narrow; the deficit was narrow and space to release the money to catalyse the economy on the fiscal side was very slim. So, the monetary policy thought there was a need from our side to see what could be done,” he explained.

He reiterated that the 5.01 per cent GDP growth recorded in the second quarter of 2021 was due to the base year effect, pointing out that the base year effect would have dissipated when the third and fourth quarter GDP figures would have been announced.

He, however, predicted a 2.86 per cent GDP performance for 2021.

“We feel that some of the things we have done are showing results and so we are going to push very aggressively,” Emefiele said.

Meanwhile, the CNPP has disowned the call by the PDP for Emefiele’s resignation.

Reacting in Abuja, the Secretary-General of the CNPP, Chief Willie Ezeugwu, in a statement, noted that the CBN Governor had not done anything to warrant the call for his resignation hence PDP does not enjoy the support of other opposition political parties in this call.

The statement by the PDP was curious because nowhere in the interview by Senator John Udoedehe did the National Secretary of the APC National Caretaker Committee mention Emefiele.

According to Ezeugwu, it should be more concerning to the PDP that its top and leading members had been resigning in large numbers, “due to the unattractive nature of the party on the watch of the current National Working Committee of the Party rather it is chasing shadows when its house is consumed by an inferno.”

“The Nigerian opposition parties are currently supposed to be undergoing internal healing and rebuilding so as to be well-positioned to take over power in 2023 but the activities of the Uche Secondus led PDP has reduced the politics of opposition to child’s play and possibly being for hire to operators of BDCs who are fighting the Governor of CBN for the policy to stop the sale of forex to the BDC’s.

“PDP has become a shadow of itself and fast turning into a briefcase political party if the likes of Uche Secondus and Mr Kola Ologbodion are left in the strategic offices they presently occupy in the party.

“They should be shown the way out and not join hirelings to make misguided calls the basis of which are laughable, baseless and cannot be substantiated,” it added.

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