Economists under the aegis of the North-South Economists’ Forum (NSEF), faulted the threat by some Nigerian youths to occupy CBN, the Central Bank of Nigeria, in a bid to force the resignation or sack of Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor.
The NSEF said it smacks of ignorance and a lack of understanding of the principles of basic economics.
The Nigerian Youth Initiative for Good Governance, NYIGG, had called for the resignation of Godwin Emefiele over rising food prices and general poor state of the economy and threatened to occupy the headquarters of CBN if President Muhammadu Buhari fails to relieve Emefiele of duty.
Challenging the position of the NYIGG, NSEF said rather than blame CBN for the prevailing hardship with rising composite food index which, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, jumped to 18.34 per cent in October 2021 compared to 17.38 per cent in October 2020, Nigerians should query why Nigeria continues to export a bulk of its crude oil while importing a bulk of its refined petroleum products.
In press statement, signed by Malam Ahmed Abdulkadir and Dr. Chima Eboh, chairman and secretary respectively, NSEF attributed the fate of the naira to the low receipts from sale of crude oil and the poor-export status of the Nigerian economy.
“Any attempt to blame CBN on the poor state of the economy and increasing food prices shows a lack of understanding of basic economics. No nation will make significant economic progress if she imports more than she exports; if her primary sector is comatose and her citizens show a strange lifestyle of preferring imported products to those produced at home; and if the government (not the reserve/central bank) has consistently displayed a lack of vision and political will to diversify her economy rather than rely on a single product which she has no control over its price.
“This is what has happened to Nigeria. We are paying today for the negligence of yesteryears. Past Nigerian governments failed to take advantage of huge earnings from crude oil export to diversify the economy, build new refineries or turn around existing ones to save forex used in importing refined petroleum products,” NSEF said.
NSEF referenced the 2021 official report from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to explain that in 2020, Nigeria spent $71.285bn on petroleum products imports, while earning $27.73 billion from crude oil exports, showing that Nigeria’s petroleum imports exceeded its exports by $43.56bn in the same year.
According to NSEF, the figure represents one of the anomalies from one sector of the economy. This excludes the billions of dollars spent on importation of rice, wheat and other basic needs most of which can be produced in Nigeria.
“How is it the fault of any CBN Governor or the CBN that the country cannot refine her crude for local consumption? Is CBN in charge of the refineries? Does CBN sell our crude oil? Is it the fault of CBN that Nigerians import rice, cereals, toothpick, tomato paste, beans, wheat and other basic products and agricultural produce all of which can easily be produced in the country?” NSEF queried.
Rather than call for the head of Emefiele, NSEF said the CBN governor deserves commendation for introducing multiple interventions meant to increase lending to high-impact and employment-elastic sectors of the economy, diversify the nation’s economic base, create jobs and improve macroeconomic stability.