…says NIMC pushed CBN to introduce BVN
By Emmanuel Elebeke
A former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu has posited that the year 2021 will be much like the past year.
He also disclosed that CBN introduced bank verification number out of frustration when National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) was moving at a slow pace in registering Nigerians.
He spoke during a television programme monitored in Abuja on Tuesday, while responding to Federal Government’s optimism that the economy would rebound from recession by the end of the first quarter of this year.
Moghalu, who was presidential candidate of Young People’s Party (YPP) in the 2019 general election said “the second wave of covid-19 will bring about another lockdown in many countries of the world and it is already happening.
He said: “As those countries are locked down again, industrial capacity is not being used at full capacity; demand for Nigeria’s oil would keep dropping and in order to manage the price of oil, OPEC members have instituted production cuts that affected Nigeria.
“These things affect Nigeria’s ability to earn revenue because the country has left itself vulnerable by being a one product economy.
“All these along with the policy direction of the economy which has not been friendly will combine to create a situation where it’s going to be difficult though, not impossible for Nigeria to grow by 1.9 percent in 2021 but I doubt it can happen in the first quarter. It can happen from the second or third quarter.”
According to him, there is no question on the need for biometric data in any 21st century situation to be able to secure citizens.
“When we were at the central bank, we executed a lot of reforms in the payment system. And as deputy governor of operations, I led the team that conceptualized and introduced the bank verification number (BVN).
“Why did we do it? It was because we were frustrated with the pace of the national identity number rollout. We were not satisfied and we said ok, but we control the financial system as regulators.
“So within that space, we will do what we have to do to make financial transactions more efficient, more secure with unique identifiers.
“That was why we developed the BVN and it worked. There are 40 million people in Nigeria today who have it.
“If the same efficiency and effectiveness were used by the wider government, we would have been at a far better place by now.”
He however said it was not sensible to force millions of Nigerians to obtain NIN registration in the middle of a massive pandemic as people are massing at various centres, super spreading covid-19
He advocated a reform of the education system, which he said was not structured to drive an economy for a 200 million population country like Nigeria.
Continuing, Moghalu said: “We also need to invest in human capital and that level of investment is not taking place. We focus on the shiny bright object of infrastructure but who is going to use that infrastructure if half of your youth do not have jobs, half of them do not have skills?”
Moghalu also advocated creation of a N1 trillion venture capital fund where the government will invest N500 billion and the private sector will contribute the rest but the private sector will administer the fund.
“In Nigeria, you have government running everything and once you have that situation, politics, corruption and rent seeking will take over.
“That is why the country is not moving because government has too much control because politicians want to make money from all these so-called schemes.
“The Federal Government must create an enabling environment for private sector investors to come in and do these things on an economic basis, people would be serious, “he added.