Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele has warned the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential flag bearer’s suggestion the exchange rate should be free float is recipe for disaster that will surely lead to perdition.
Reacting to Atiku Abubakar’s criticism of the CBN and Emefiele’ management of monetary policies and his suggestion that the exchange rate should be free-floating, the CBN governor said: “The MPC reviewed it and concluded that it would be wrong. It is as good as saying that we should go back to the era of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in Nigeria.
“The implication can better be imagined. It will certainly lead to capital flight, lead to massive depreciation or devaluation of the currency and ultimately to currency crisis in Nigeria and I think we should all know that it is a road to perdition to ever go in that direction.”
Addressing reporters at the end of the bi-monthly Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, the first for the year, and weeks before the general elections, Emefiele maintained: “There is no capital control in Nigeria today because you cannot find the CBN trying to intervene in the market for demand and supply of foreign exchange.”
He insisted: “We cannot be talking about allowing import of items that can be produced in the country today, exporting jobs from Nigeria to foreign countries, and we say we have the interest of Nigeria at heart?
“We don’t agree with anybody. It is a wrong premise to say that you will allow imports to just flood the country just because you want to please anybody. It is not in our interest.”
Emefiele pointed out the CBN is apolitical. “We will remain apolitical. We will not want anybody to drag the central bank into issues within our remit otherwise, we would respond to it.”
The CBN governor admitted the apex bank has instructed banks to suspend interest on loans for fuel imports.
With regards to forex restrictions on imported items, Emefiele said CBN will get even more aggressive to see to it that any or all food items that can be produced in Nigeria and consumed in Nigeria and are currently being imported into Nigeria may face forex restrictions.
Highlighting his successes and achievements as CBN governor, Emefiele argued that “Dangote is today establishing the biggest refinery I have ever seen.
“The size of Dangote refinery is at least 10 times the size of Victoria Island. By April 2019 when Dangote Fertilizer Plant begins to roll, we will place a ban on the importation of fertilizer because Nigeria will both be self-sufficient and even export.”
He also disclosed that he has “written to governors in the South-South and South East that time has come to stop importation of crude palm oil.
“A barrel of crude palm oil is more expensive than crude petroleum per barrel. I told them that we will re-establish the oil palm belt in the South-South and South Eastern parts of the country.
“Edo State has reacted positively like some other states. With support and intervention from CBN and government, we would reverse the trend.
“That should be the direction. It is important to say this so that people can know that the economy is doing well.
“A lot of work still needs to be done, there are still a couple of vulnerabilities and fragilities that we see in the economy but we are determined to resolve them.