As Mr Godwin Emefiele, erstwhile group managing director (GMD) of Zenith Bank Plc, begins his tenure as the 11th governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) tomorrow, the organised private sector has bemoaned the state of the economy and drawn attention to key issues requiring urgent policy response.
Speaking through the president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Remi Bello, the business community lamented that, after 15 years of civilian rule, the Nigerian economy "is still structurally defective as it is too dependent on the oil and gas sector for revenue, creating serious vulnerability risks".
The captains of commerce and industry acknowledged the transformation in the telecommunications sector as a notable success story in economic reform as well as the progress being made in the agricultural sector but observed that the sector could not be transformed in isolation of infrastructure development and industrialisation.
"There are concerns about the weak impact of the growth performance on private sector productivity and the welfare of the Nigerian people. The quality of the business environment continues to be a source of concern to investors, especially in the real sector. Weak infrastructures and institutions have adverse effects on efficiency, productivity and competiveness of enterprises in the economy. These conditions pose a major risk to inclusiveness and job creation."
The captains of industry noted that although Nigeria's rebased GDP ranked her 26th world largest economy in 2013; the country ranked 147th on Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank out of the 189 countries profiled.
Furthermore, the industry operators said, the country's ranking in the UNDP Human Development Index of 153 out of 210 countries was a graphic illustration of the disconnect between growth and development; and between growth and quality of investment climate.
Agenda for New CBN Helmsman
The credit situation remains a major problem for investors in the economy. Many small and medium-scale enterprises still have serious challenge in accessing credit even at high interest rates. The tight credit situation is a major inhibiting factor to the capacity of domestic enterprises to take advantage of the robust Nigerian market. A framework for better synergy among the financial sector, the real sector and SMEs is desirable to facilitate the realisation of the development objectives of inclusiveness and job creation.
Billions of dollars have been lost in revenue and many lives have been lost to the problem of oil theft and pipeline vandalism. The environment of affected communities has suffered serious degradation as a consequence of this problem. The oil and gas sector suffered negative growth for a couple of years on the back of this challenge.
Emefiele was nominated by President Goodluck Jonathan on February 20 following the suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi whose tenure expires this June. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 26, 2014.
The incoming CBN governor has promised to use the "Development Banking Model" to drive economic growth and development in the real sectors of the economy to the benefit of all Nigerians. "We would ensure that whatever decisions we take at the CBN in the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) would be those that would lead to improvement in the level of employment in Nigeria. We would ensure that we work with the manufacturing companies to ensure that we improve on their level of production and ensure that we improve and achieve economic growth in Nigeria.
"I will take it as a primary responsibility to ensure that the attempt to dollarise the Nigerian economy is discouraged. We should not allow it because it would create a problem for the economy," Emefiele said.
He was the group managing director, Zenith Bank Plc, a position he has held since August 2010. Until then, he was the deputy managing director of the bank, having been appointed into that position in 2001. Emefiele has been on the bank's management team since inception and has held various management positions in the bank, including serving as the its executive director in charge of corporate banking, treasury, financial control and strategic planning.
Until he took over as group managing director, Emefiele was directly responsible for all the group's local subsidiaries, treasury and correspondent banking as well as multilateral, conglomerates and private banking. He also had responsibilities for direct supervision of a majority of the bank's branches in Lagos and northern Nigeria.
Emefiele has over 26 years' banking experience and holds a B.Sc and an MBA in Finance both from the University of Nigeria. Before commencing his banking career, he lectured finance, bank management, and insurance at the University of Nigeria and University of Port Harcourt respectively.