BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – Hard times await saboteurs of Nigeria’s economic policies if assurances from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele are anything to go by.
Emefiele, set to begin his second five-year tenure as the apex bank boss on June 2, 2019, warns that it will no longer be business as usual for ‘fifth columnist’ because they will certainly find no hiding place from the law.
With the Nigerian Senate expected to give him a clean bill of health for a fresh tenure, the Nation’s number banker admitted that the blight in efforts at stabilizing economic growth and development in the country is heavily linked to those circumventing policies initiatives by the Federal Government.
But he pledged that with strong legislative support, the CBN is determined to push hard and ensure those seeking to undermine policies and due process will come under serious knocks for their unpatriotic acts.
Hinting on CBN’s policy direction in his second tenure, Emefiele said; “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), if given this mandate, will push very hard to ensure that those who seek to undermine the policies of Nigeria without respecting the laws of this country will be brought to book under any circumstances.”
“And that is why I said, ‘please, pray for us’ because the road ahead is still rough”, he said.
The CBN Governor, who frowned at the high level of disregard and disrespect for policies and laws in Nigeria, insisted that the surest way of growing the economy lies in strict adherence to government policies and extant laws.
Emefiele was speaking during his screening by the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions as the returning CBN Governor following his reappointment by President Muhammadu Buhari for another five-year term.
According to him; “Part of the problem that we have seen in Nigeria is lack of respect for the policies of this country. Nigeria is very good at putting in place policies that are sound and workable, but implementation has always been almost zero.
“And it is arising because we see sabotage activities. We see people when policies are made, where they pick up the pieces of paper about the policy; what they think about is how do we circumvent this policy?
Though the CBN governor failed to list the exact policies being sabotaged, he promised that those who work to circumvent and flout rules and regulations would no longer escape the wrath of the law.
He also told the lawmakers that the era of total dependency on crude oil as the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy was over for good because many other commodities have overtaken petroleum in value on the global market.
“For some of you, who are very good in doing calculations, go and check today: the price of a barrel of palm oil is more than the price of a barrel of crude oil. So, what happened to our country?
“There are countries when they have the opportunities in agriculture and also have opportunities in the crude sector, they didn’t let their guards down.
“But, unfortunately, we did and that is what we are paying for today. So that when there are some external shocks in the crude oil market, we sneeze, but we only smile when the market is good.”
In obvious support for the apex bank’s prohibition of 21 items from accessing foreign exchange, Emefiele said; “We will grow that market back again. And after that, we will go into cocoa in the South West area to be sure that what we are doing permeates all the nooks and crannies of this country. Because we think we owe Nigerians this.”
He thanked the Senators for praying that the CBN succeeds in its mandate delivery, even as he appealed to “Nigerians that a time comes in the history of a country where you have to learn to respect the policies and laws of a country.”
In his remarks, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Affairs (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who presented Emefiele for screening, lauded the Senate’s speedy response to the President’s request for CBN Governor’s confirmation.
“This confirmation will be seen as one of the fastest requests to be considered by the Senate. The Executive is grateful. I hereby present to you for confirmation, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the CBN”, he said.
At the screening session that had about 17 senators in attendance, the Committee Chairman, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, said the Senators were not concerned about a trending audio video in the media space as issues around it were already before a court of competent jurisdiction.
Acknowledging that Emefiele’s good work at the apex bank might have attracted discontent in certain quarters, Senator Ibrahim said; “When you see a good thing some people want to distract it.”
Also speaking, a Committee member, Senator Fatima Raji-Rasaki, challenged Emefiele to ensure government receives proper counsel on disbursement of resources for the overall benefit of Nigerians whenever there are funds for the purpose of bailout to States or any sector of the economy.
For Senator Hope Uzodinma, who said the screening is not for a fresh appointment, noted that the President has, in the wisdom, given the CBN Governor an excellent pass mark, hence his re-nomination for a second term.
Similarly, Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, urged Emefiele to further consolidate on the growth of cotton and textile industries, especially in Kaduna and Katsina states.