Nigeria: CBN Gov Emefiele Warns... High Unemployment Rate Threatens Economy

The high unemployment rate in the country may push the economy into crisis, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele has warned.

This is even as economic and financial experts said the country's economy is not under any threat of recession as all indices showed consistent improvement since 2018.

Emefiele, who delivered a lecture yesterday at the University of Benin, expressed fear that Nigeria may slide into another round of economic crisis if measures are not taken to tackle the high rate of unemployment.

In a lecture entitled, "Beyond the Global Financial Crisis: Monetary Policy Under Global Uncertainty", the CBN governor said the world's economy was going through some uncertainties and Nigeria might not be spared if the crisis eventually occurs.

He said monetary and fiscal policy authority must rise up to the challenge to begin to think of what can be done to tackle the situation.

"From some of my concluding remarks, you may have observed whether you like it or not, there is global uncertainty that will unfortunately, most certainly, lead to another crisis", Emefiele said.

"The question could be: how are we as Nigerians, particularly our leaders, I am talking of Monetary and Fiscal Policy Authority, how are we preparing our country for the next set of crisis?

"We have luckily exited recession; we have seen recession pending downward to about 18.72 percent in 2017 to about 11.37 percent today. We see reserve moving up, exchange rate stabilizing but unfortunately we still have issue and those issues bother on unemployment rate," he said.

He, however, assured that CBN would continue to take proactive approaches in mitigating the likely adverse effects that may emanate from external headwinds.

"CBN will also continue to employ policies that will enhance domestic production of goods and improve the stability of financial system," he said.

While calling for an increased coordination between fiscal and monetary policies in deploying measures that will support economic growth and reduce unemployment, he noted that a mix of conventional and unconventional monetary policy measures are needed to combat the multidimensional headwinds emanating from external shocks and the global uncertainties.

"But today we hear that the farmers that we are supporting are not able to go to the farm because they are being disturbed. It is only when they can go to the farm to grow crops that they can create employment for themselves and others because these food are processed, and processing the food leads to job creation and improved domestic approach and productivity. This is what we need for Nigeria and all of you must rise and think of what they can do for the Nigeria," he said.

Emeifele, who explained how the apex bank stabilised the nation's economy, said the introduction of the Investors and Exporters Window had helped in shoring up the country's external reserves.

He said the turnover in the I&E FX Window has reached over $48 billion since the inception of the Window and that the country's foreign exchange reserved has risen to $45 billion in April 2019 from $23 billion in October 2016.

According to him, the bank's intervention programmes were deployed to support growth in critical sector of the economy, such as agriculture and manufacturing, given their immense potential to the economy.

Speaking further, Emefiele said Nigeria, with its vast arable land, has the ability to earn over N20bn from cultivating and processing palm oil.

According to him, to boost the agriculture and industrial sector, CBN increased its lending to the agricultural sector through intervention scheme such as Anchor Borrowers Programme, Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and Real Sector Support Facility.

He said the anchor borrowers' programme has helped to boost agricultural production by removing the obstacle faced by small farmers, adding that the programme has supported over one million small holder famers cultivating 16 different commodities in over 1,114 million hectares of farmland.

"A key emphasis was placed on improving rice production, given the considerable weight importation of rice had on Nigeria's import bill. This focus has enabled increase production of rice in the country, which has led to net saving of $800 in our import bill as a result of drastic decline in rice importation," he said.

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