In 1929, Wall Street crashed signaling America’s descent in what is described as the Great Depression. The American stock market crashed to a terrible low marking the beginning of a decade of high unemployment, poverty, low profits, and deflation, plunging farm incomes, and lost opportunities for economic growth as well as for personal advancement.
It was difficult to pinpoint the actual cause of the crisis but numerous factors, especially high consumer debt, ill-regulated markets that permitted overoptimistic loans by banks and investors, and the lack of high-growth new industries were suspected to have led to the American depression that ravaged the economy in the whole of the 1930s. The daring efforts of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to ensure economic recovery for America which was dubbed the New Deal however changed the tides. In recorded history, no economic crisis has been as protracted as the Great Depression, not even the 2007/2008 economic crisis that swept the world off its feet.
Though Roosevelt was a politician and Mr. Godwin Emiefele is an expert in economic affairs, drawing parallels in their roles in salvaging two great financial crises is imperative. While one succeeded as an elected politician, the other is an appointee who is deploying his expertise in ensuring that Nigeria recovers fully from the financial crisis she has been associated with for a long period. This is the essence of good leadership regardless of whether one is elected or appointed. Courageous, resourceful, and innovative leaders like Emiefele deserve commendation and not condemnation.
Just as the scenario described above, Nigeria has experienced a very long period of financial mismanagement and recklessness that has left Nigeria in perpetual financial crisis with rising inflation, unemployment, rising debt profile, an ill-regulated stock and forex trade, bad loans amongst others.
Just as Roosevelt saved America from the Great Depression with his economic recovery plan, the amiable Governor of the Central Bank Emiefele is doing same to the Nigerian financial crisis that has defied every political and professional solution since he took over as the head of the bankers’ bank.
Even though Emiefele does not blow his trumpet, every well-meaning Nigerian is aware of his superior grasp of the economic peculiarities of our country and what he is doing to make the lives of Nigerians better than what they were when he took over the reins as the Central Bank governor.
For instance, at the heat of Covid-19 pandemic, CBN released funds to be given as palliatives to all Nigerians through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. Every Nigeria village was reached and every household was given palliatives enough to last the whole period of the lockdown as reported by government officials. This also helped in no small measure to cushion the effect of the pandemic on ordinary Nigerians especially those in the rural areas. Even though the whole world economies were almost grounded in the wake of the Covid-19, prudent economic policies like these helped the Nigerian economy to remain afloat.
Knowing that most Nigerians are farmers and small business owners, CBN rolled out loans to Nigerians under the Covid-19 Target Credit Facility for Households and Small-Medium Enterprises. This helped Nigerians pick up their businesses without having to lose their means of livelihood as it happened in many countries around the world. Over N100 billion was allocated for that intervention and every household as well as SMEs that applied for the loan got it. The massive repayment of the loan is a clear testimony of how beneficial the loan was and how Nigerians are grateful for the gesture.
Not just that, CBN in conjunction with the federal government rolled out the payroll support system that ensured that all private employers of labour were given grants to enable them to meet up with staff salaries. In addition to that, a special fund was made available from artisans and those in the non-formal sectors of the Nigerian economy. This was speedily followed by the National Youth Investment Fund which has since been disbursed to over 25 million youth across the country. These humane, as well as professional gestures, helped to give numerous workers who would have hitherto lost their financial and purchasing power a breath of fresh air thanks to the efforts of the financial czar, Emiefele.
Aside the loans and grants given specifically to cushion the effect of Covid-19, the Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), an initiative of the Bankers’ Committee headed by Emiefele, is designed to support and complement the Federal Governments’ efforts at promoting Agri-businesses/Small and Medium Enterprises as a vehicle for sustainable economic development and employment generation.
This noble project is administered by the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank and has disbursed billions of naira to Nigerian farmers and operators of small and medium businesses. This together with other efforts such as the Anchor borrowers fund which is being championed by the Bank of Agriculture and the several similar incentives put in place by the Bank of Industry under the sterling leadership of Emiefele are worthy of commendation.
As a consummate financial manager, CBN under the leadership of Emiefele reasoned that it will be cheaper to manage the Covid-19 pandemic with a homegrown solution. This he did by releasing funds to Nigerian academics and pharmaceutical companies to research a cure and understanding the pattern of spread of the virus. These researches are yielding great results and Nigerians will soon start benefiting from the foresight and professionalism of Emiefele who is doing everything within his power to grow the Nigerian economy to enviable heights. Needless to say, despite all these glaring achievements, some naysayers would want Nigerians to believe the indefatigable Governor is not doing enough.
While the CBN under the stewardship of Emiefele is doing everything to stabilise the Nigerian economy and place Nigerian among the economically advanced nations of the world, some unscrupulous elements have continued to manipulate the media into thinking that the exchange rate of the dollar to naira is high. This is highly unpatriotic and criminal activity aimed at subverting the CBN’s strict policies which have already strengthened the naira against the dollar in recent months and rendered who criminally exploited the lapses that were hitherto found in forex transactions to their advantage. Nigerians are not fools and are aware that it is simply a case of corruption fighting back and are unperturbed by the scary exchange rates published by black market forex operators and enemies of Nigeria.
It should be noted that the CBN is the only authority charged with the responsibility of determining exchange rates of the naira to other currencies and not the other way round. The perpetrators of such heinous crimes are already being exposed and will face the full wrath of the law by the federal government. This will serve as a deterrent to other fraudsters whose stock in trade is manipulating public opinion using the media for their selfish gains.
With all these efforts and the much-anticipated e-money that will soon be launched with numerous benefits to Nigerians and the economy at large, it is laughable that some ill-motivated individuals are being sponsored to protest against the CBN boss. Calling for his sack on account of influenced and misleading exchange rates is not only an act of ingratitude but a show of ignorance as the facts are already on the ground to clear the doubts of anybody who is objective enough to see the reality of the situation.
Well-meaning Nigerians who feel dissatisfied with the current efforts of the CBN boss should, in the spirit of patriotism come up with suggestions on how to collectively better the Nigerian economy rather than resorting to blackmail and blind criticism. Allowing anyone to influence your opinion of others based on their selfish perspective is selfish and uncharitable.
Iwen- Daniel is the convener of Arise Nigeria