THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has entered a new phase in the developmental functions as it relates to its jurisdictional mandate as pursued under the Godwin Emefiele-led regime in the first term, 2014-2019.
Emefiele has rolled out a 14-point agenda that would hallmark his second term in the next five years (2019-2024).
They include recapitalisation of banks, macro-economic stability, double-digit economic growth, single-digit inflation, greater access to credit, and accelerating the rate of employment.
Others are development of a robust payments system, extension of intervention support to the youth population, increase/diversification of Nigeria’s exports base, creation of a Trade Monitoring System, TRMS; improved foreign direct investment, FDI, flows; boosting agricultural sector productivity and aggressive enrolment onto the BVN system. Finally, Emefiele said he would continue to operate a managed-float exchange rate regime.
We commend Emefiele, first, for his passion and steadfast pursuit of the developmental role of the CBN which comes as an addition to the traditional role of central banks in developed economies.
Perhaps this is one of the qualities that may have earned him the rare second term in the coveted office, and we support his re-appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
But we are quick to add that there is a limit to where passion can go, especially in a fractious society with weak institutions such as Nigeria’s where strong men are larger than institutions, where rules are observed in the breach with law-abiding citizens getting the short end of the stick all the time.
We are also quick to add that as laudable as each of the goals are, they are rather too many for one institution, even if it has all the constitutional monopoly over the issues involved. We are, therefore, worried that the apex bank may be taking too much unto itself which might torpedo its laudable agenda.
For instance, the role of CBN in macro-economic stability is obviously non-absolute; the fiscal authorities (the Federal Ministry of Finance) as well as other economic arms of government play more critical roles which ultimately determine the extent of the success of CBN’s efforts.
The other example is in the agenda of promoting non-oil exports where the major government agencies in charge of the processes report to authorities other than CBN, and therefore may have different agenda and control mechanisms.
Finally, on this same authority and control issue, the apex bank’s agenda towards domestic production of goods and services could easily be undermined by those in charge of policing the ports of entry where all manners of imports still come in despite the ban.
Despite these, however, we stand with the CBN and call on the Presidency to fully back Emefiele’s second tenure agenda for the good of our economy.