Photograph — Punch

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned that it would not support the importation of items the country has the potential to produce, restating its commitment to reviving locally-produced goods and services.

To this effect, CBN governor Godwin Emefiele charged industrial conglomerates operating in the country to support efforts by the government to boost the nation’s economy and return it to its “green days.”

In a statement issued by the regulator, Emefiele said the bank could not spend its foreign reserves on what would not boost the economy and create jobs for Nigerians, noting that the decision was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire to revive the country’s economy back to normal. This he said, can only be achieved when the manufacturing and agricultural sectors form the base of the economy. 

The present administration has often emphasized the importance of Made-in-Nigeria goods, which could help boost the nation’s manufacturing sector and create more jobs. Also, indigenous firms can get to take advantage of bigger markets at all levels.

Aside from providing solutions to the unemployment problem in the country, encouraging the production and consumption of local products could lead Nigeria into the path of the much-desired economic prosperity, experts say. 

Popular opinion holds that the country should depend on its capacity to harness human and material resources towards the promotion of made-in-Nigeria goods that can compete in both local and international markets. 

“As Nigeria continues the process of the full reopening of its economy due to the lockdown over Coronavirus (COVID-19), the nation needs industrial conglomerates to support efforts aimed at growing the Nigerian economy,” the CBN boss said.

Speaking on the unprecedented crash in global oil prices this year which has affected many oil-dependent economies including Nigeria, Emefiele expressed confidence that the price of crude oil would not remain at low levels for a long period. He added low crude oil prices were defeated and that the foreign reserves of about $37 billion remained robust to support the economy.

However, he advised conglomerates to key into the current administration’s drive of diversifying the economy by leveraging on its large population to market their products that could be produced locally and exported to the rest of the world. 

In assurance of its commitment, the bank said it is willing to provide foreign exchange to companies that required such raw materials and machinery that could not be obtained in Nigeria. “With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) now billed to commence in January 2021, Nigeria provides the companies with immense opportunities to produce their items and make huge profits through the Nigerian market, which is large enough to support their respective businesses,” he added.

On the need to prioritize the Nigerian market, the CBN governor said it would collaborate with the relevant government agencies to help grow the nation’s industry, while also promising to protect their businesses to ensure that they succeeded.

By Ahmed Iyanda.

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