The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday called on the Federal Government to attach premium on palm oil production, saying its price is higher than that of crude oil.
Emefiele stated this in Abuja when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for screening for his second term nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He did not, however, give the current prices of the commodities in the international market, but said that palm oil was a goldmine, which Nigeria had capacity to export to many countries.
The CBN governor, expressed concerns that though Nigeria was one of the major palm oil producers in the 1960s; she however, failed to consolidate on it because of the discovery of crude oil.
He said that the CBN, through its legal functions, would come up with a special programme to boost palm oil production to help in diversifying the economy.
According to him, Nigeria had the potential to export palm oil and boost its revenue generation.
Emefiele recalled that “in the ’60s, Nigeria controlled 40 per cent share in the global palm oil chain. We were exporting our palm oil to different parts of the world, but because we found crude oil, we receded and abandoned it.
“The price of a tonne of palm oil is more than the price of a barrel of crude oil. So, what happened? For other countries, when they had the opportunity in agriculture and in the crude sector, they did not let their guards down; unfortunately, we did and that is what we are paying for today.
“Such move is so, so that when there are some external shocks, it will not be felt. We will grow that market again and after that, we will go into cocoa.”
He commended President Buhari for his commitment to repositioning the agriculture sector.
In his remarks, Sen. Rafiu Adebayo, Chairman of the Senate Committee, said that the committee would put its report together and submit to the Senate in plenary for further action.
He commended Emefiele’s effort in stabilising the economy through various initiatives, and urged him to put in more effort in ensuring that some economic challenges currently bedevilling the country were tackled.
According to Emefiele, the president had on different occasions insisted that the country should be producing what it would consume and consume what it would produce.
He noted that the charge resonated with CBN management, which took it further by starting the Anchor Borrowers Programme that had impacted positively on the lives of Nigerians.
He also disclosed that the apex bank was coming up with a fund for the creative industry to engage Nigerian youths so as to increase employment rate as well as tackle restiveness.
The CBN governor informed the committee that the bank had worked assiduously to stabilise the economy in many areas.
He pointed out that the bank had explored other intervening initiatives that would help boost the supply of foreign exchange into the market, including encouraging investors.
Emefiele added that CBN had been able to reduce the exchange rate from about N500 to a dollar to the current rate of N360 to a dollar.
He promised to make further effort to ensure stability of the exchange rate for a clear monetary policy direction.
“Exchange rate now converges substantially at N360 to a dollar; inflation trending downwards for about 25 consecutive months now, from about 18.72 per cent in 2017 to as low as 11.72 per cent now.
“In the area of interest rate, we tried as much as possible, but unfortunately we have not quite achieved what we thought we will achieve on interest rate moderation.
“Though we have moved from about 18.5 per cent to 14 per cent, we will still work hard to bring it further down,” he said.
Emiefele called for prayers and concerted efforts to consolidate on his achievements, if his nomination was confirmed.
He pledged he would not rest in ensuring that the next five years would be unbearable for those bent on sabotaging government policies, adding that the bank would do anything to bring such persons to book.
On belief that the bank was operating multiple exchange rate, he said it was not true.
According to him, the bank only had multiple windows to make it easy for Nigerians who make use of foreign exchange, and in spite of the multiple windows, there was convergence of rate, with about N360 to a dollar.
The Senate had on May 9, read a letter from Buhari requesting the confirmation of the CBN governor for a second term.
It, thereafter, directed its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, on Monday, to screen the appointee and report back.