By Etuka Sunday
There is no denying the fact that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele has being through thick and thin with his policies as the helmsman of the apex bank.
Mr Emefiele marked his four years in office on June 3, 2018, with well deserved avalanche of positive commendations from financial experts in Nigeria, and across the globe.
As a man of vision and determination, Emefiele turned the economic quagmire that threatened his appointment as the apex bank’s governor to opportunities to really serve the country.
Nigerians would not forget in a hurry the snail growth of the economy precisely in 2015, 2016 and part of 2017 during the days of economic recession and the policies he introduced to reposition the economy on the part of sustainable growth. Posterity will judge in his favour.
Yes, Emefiele took over an uninspiring financial sector; a sector in crisis with all its growth indicators pointing downwards. However, with his doggedness and great knack for challenges, he was able to succeed.
This is not the time to count the economic losses but the time to count the gains of positive intervention of CBN through the sound leadership initiative of governor Emefiele as the Arrow Head of the bank.
His first target was to build a financial system that would serve the growth and development needs of the country. Today, Nigeria has a modern payment system comparable to what obtains in other developed economies.
Worried by the low GDP growth and foreign reserves due largely to increased import bills, and crash in crude oil prices at all time low $27pbl; the CBN under his watch took a bold decision on June 24, 2015 to debar importers of 41 items from accessing foreign exchange at the Nigerian Forex markets so as to encourage local production of those items.
To this effect, Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last month showed that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.95 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018.
NBS in its GDP report said, “This shows a stronger growth when compared with the first quarter of 2017 which recorded a growth of -0.91 percent, indicating an increase of 2.87 percent points.”
Again, Inflation has also gone down to 12.48% as reported by NBS. This wouldn’t have been possible without the determined efforts of CBN.
Emefiele led-CBN introduced flexible exchange rate regime which help to tame the currency speculators who were busy taking advantage of the situation especially on the side of Naira exchange rate.
In pursuant of his vision, new intervention schemes were created, while life was given to the existing ones through a determined effort.
Some of the intervention schemes are: Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF), Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS), and the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
On April 12, 2018, CBN in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee flagged off disbursement of N26billion to the first set of beneficiaries under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).
The Scheme was designed following the high rate of unemployment in the country as shown by the data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) during the third quarter of 2017.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Program, since its launch in November 2015, the Anchor Borrowers’ Program has so far achieved tremendous success in terms of outreach and coverage, making the scheme one of the most successful CBN Development Finance initiatives to date.
Currently, about N80 billion has been disbursed to over 358,000 small holder farmers in 34 states, cultivating 8 commodities.
The success of the Program has culminated in wealth creation for the small holder farmers, who hitherto had been crowded out of the formal financial system, deepening of markets and value addition along the value chain of the various commodities.
The National Collateral Registry – the registry was introduced to unlock access to credit, which has always been a major concern to MSMEs, particularly the micro enterprises which account for 99% of the 37.1 million MSMEs in the country.
Since commencement of live operations in May 2016, 410 financial institutions have registered 26,899 financing statements valued at over N540 billion on the platform.
During AGSMEIS fund disbursement, Emefiele said, some of the first set of beneficiaries were: 100 small holder rice farmers from Kebbi State trained and mentored by Thrive Agric, who came together to apply for a loan to acquire a tractor with full implements. The tractor will replace the traditional farming practices which involve the use of hoes and cutlasses for land preparation, harrowing, ridging, bedding and harvesting.
“This will increase efficiency and double their production yield of rice paddy from currently about 3 Metric Tonnes per Hectare to 6 Metric Tonnes per Hectare on the same piece of land, thereby increasing wealth of the farmers.
“Another fine example, I dare say, are the young men and women who have been trained and mentored in fashion designing, photography and cosmetology by House of Tara and Fate Foundation and who will be receiving their first set of photography equipment, sewing and embroidery machines and make-up starter kits today.
“On my assumption of office in June 2014, my resolve and vision was to create a professional and people centered Central Bank, with a focus on Development Financing.
“Core of that vision, was a CBN that will act as a financial catalyst by targeting predetermined sectors that can create jobs on a mass scale and significantly reduce our import bills.
“The disbursement of funds under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) is in line with that vision and a further testament of that resolve”, he said.