The recent revelation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the country attracted $6 billion foreign investments in the first
three months of the year is a welcome development. The trend is an apparent endorsement by the international community of the Buhari
administration’s tripartite policy on the war against corruption, insecurity and revitalising the economy.
Speaking with journalists at the end of the Bankers Committee meeting in Lagos, penultimate week, CBN Director, Banking Supervision,
Ahmad Abdullahi, noted that confidence in the economy by both local and foreign investors has been on the rise despite the elections.
He said the committee noted that despite the numerous headwinds in the economy, “lending to the private sector and the economy generally
has increased and that is very positive news. The confidence by foreign investors has also increased. For instance, between January and March
despite the election, up to $6 billion came in and that is positive news.”
The Bankers Committee also disclosed that it will be setting aside N200 billion for cash crop promotion in the country and would commence
disbursement of funds for the creative sector this month.To this end, he said, the committee decided to consolidate on the
gains made so far and continue with the initiatives such as import substitution programme, the Anchor Borrowers Programme, and some
other initiatives of both the CBN and the Bankers Committee.
On his part, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Kennedy Uzoka, noted that the Bankers
Committee will be setting aside not less than N200 billion that will be given at single digit for up to 10 years span to farmers and value chain
operators in the cash crop industry.
He, however, stated that the committee believes that the country has not made much progress in its drive to diversify the economy away from
oil. Uzoka said the committee had set up a subcommittee “and the subcommittee of members; those who have operated in geographies
in our continents where exports have done very well. We have seen some countries that have similar products with us that have excelled in
exporting while we have dropped.
He said the CBN has different types of fund which the committee looked at for which to address the current challenges.
He said: “We looked at some products, with viability of these products to export, and how it would help export, address employment issues,
create the necessary economic activities and create relief in terms of foreign exchange because if we add value to a commodity, we would
create employment here and that would save us forex as against what we do today – most of our products are exported in raw form. We believe
that with a little push we can add a lot more value.
“Our immediate focus would be oil palm, cocoa, sesame seed and of course shea and cashew. Based on the meeting we had today, we are
going to be lending at single digit up to a maximum of 10 years and we are going to devote N200 billion to support this and that would change
the narrative for export.” Also, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said the committee would commence disbursement of
funds for the creative industry. He said the committee revisited the entitle value chain of music, movies, information technology and fashion right
from the production facilities to the production in terms of capacity building to ensure that whatever is produced along each of the verticals
is world class.
Meanwhile, the Director Corporate Communications of the CBN, Isaac Okoroafor, has debunked reports that 70 per cent of the rice in Nigerian markets is imported. Okoroafor noted that the CBN would be working with relevant authorities to deal with smugglers as well as those who fund activities aimed at frustrating the efforts of the apex bank at revitalising the economy.
It is instructive that Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Nigeria averaged $1261.83 million from 2007 until 2018, reaching an all timehigh of $3084.90 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and a record
low of $435.64 million in the second quarter of 2018. It increased by
$438.84 million in the third quarter of 2018.
We observe that this impressive data on FDIs in Nigeria is largely attributable to the government’s sustainable macro-economic policies
and successes recorded in the fight against corruption, combating insecurity, particularly the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east,
kidnappings and armed robbery across the country, as well as revamping
the economy which is exemplified by the fact that the nation has exited
economic recession and other negative economic indices.
While we commend key economic actors like the CBN and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment for this economic feat, it
is pertinent to draw attention to the fact that it is not yet Uhuru as the nation’s economy is grossly under-industrialised, resulting in mass
import dependency. There is, therefore, the urgent need for the federal government to accelerate its economic diversification programme
in order to free the country from over-dependence on crude oil and encourage manufacturing.