The failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to become more people-focused as promised by its governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been attributed to global the downturn of commodity prices, especially that of crude, the main export commodity of Nigeria.
The Director, Corporate Communications Department of CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, who expressed these regrets at the Central Bank of Nigeria Fair in Uyo on Monday, explained that it equally, had hindered the policies and progammes of the bank to impact positively on the people of Nigeria.
Okoroafor, represented by the Deputy Director, Public Relations, Mrs Veronica Aqua, at the event whose theme was Promoting Financial Stability and Economic Development, said that the drastic fall in foreign exchange earnings and revenue to the government had resulted in the inability of the state government to pay their workers.
“At resumption of office in 2014, Governor Goodwin Emefiele promised to make the CBN become a people-focused bank but our economy went into recession as the results of the turn down in oil from $160 to 60 something dollars.
“This led to a lot of problems for us; the country’s foreign reserve became seriously depleted, which led to exchange rate depreciation and inflation rate rising to as high as 18%. The country began to experience negative growths in GDP and eventually fell into recession. The situation resulted to serious scarcity of foreign exchange as people could not source for forex to pay health treatment and school fees for their wards abroad.
He said to end this drastic situation, served the economy as well as created employment opportunity for the people; the CBN initiated the policy of restricting foreign exchange for the importation of 41 products in which the country has comparative advantage in producing such commodities domestically.
“The bank introduced the Anchor Borrowers programme for certain commodities like rice, wheat, tomatoes etc, so as to curtail the huge foreign exchange being spent on food importation. This policy has helped to create employment domestically, in addition to other intervention measures in SMEs, manufacturing, infrastructure, etc.
“These policies have yielded some positive results thereby helping to get the economy out of recession and restoring the economy on the path of growth. The bank is urging Nigerians to avail themselves of the services of the commercial banks in order to take advantage of these schemes,” he said.
The fair which was aimed at availing participants the opportunity to have a first-hand information and to ask questions on CBN intervention and initiatives towards the sustenance of the banking sector in particular and the Nigerian economy as a whole, featured presentations on payment system modernisation, cashless policy, consumer protection, financial inclusion, clean naira Notes policy, agric financing initiative SME financing initiative, and real sector intervention etc.
The branch controller, CBN, Uyo, Mrs Mercy Ogbomon-Paul, in her welcome address, called on citizens of Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunity and expand their business, come up with good business ideas that will improve the quality of life and drive the bank towards better performance.