The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, yesterday, said despite the apparent gloomy picture of the country’s economy, the future was bright and positive, especially in the light of recent inflow of $1.8 billion.

Cardoso, who spoke yesterday during the opening of the plenary session of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at their secretariat in Abuja, said with the policy reforms being implemented by the federal government, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

As a mark of the positive economic prospect, Cardoso said the country received an inflow of about $1.8 billion last week. He maintained that the positive outlook had been confirmed by several international economic rating organisations, such International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Fitch Ratings.

The CBN governor disclosed that the national monetary policy meeting would be convened this week to take decisions on how to further deepen the economic reforms and make them more result-oriented.

He said: “That positive outlook comes from the fact that a series of reforms have been made by the federal government and the central bank, which are now paying off in such a way that international investors are coming back in again.

“Recently, as a result of some of the particular reforms that the central bank came in with, over the course of the last week, $1.8 billion came into the market.

“As long as we can sustain a positive trajectory, I am confident that we will get out of this and the foreign exchange market will begin to moderate itself.

“In another week or so, we will have the Monetary Policy Committee meeting, a very critical meeting which helps to direct the course of the economy.”

On the challenges currently facing Nigeria’s economy, Cardoso said the country needed to take measures to actualise the vision of becoming a producing nation, far from the present consumer attitude. He said a lot of money had been pumped into the economy through “Ways and Means”, which were presently contributing to the inflationary trend the country was witnessing.

According to him, “A lot of supply has gone into the system, over a period of time, unfortunately. And that goes back to all the things we’ve been talking about Ways and Means and I’m sure there’s nobody here in this room that has never had a concept of Ways and Means. I’m sure there’s nobody.

“We’ve been talking about it over a period of time. And quite frankly, it has come to haunt us through so much liquidity going into a system in a relatively short space of time. And that’s in itself has fuelled the inflationary pressures, which we all have the witnessing of recent.

“Undoubtedly, Nigeria is going through challenging times on the economic front and this is not something that will be new to anybody.  Reflecting on this, I wonder if, perhaps, things could have been done differently earlier.

“And what do I mean by that? You’ve got to move as a country beyond being a consumer nation. You’ve got to move as a country beyond being a consumer nation. “And it is something that we, as Nigerians, have been talking about for so long, for so many years, for decades. But, really, we’ve not been able to actualise that. That’s something very important.

“The other thing, of course, is to moderate appetite for foreign goods. And that’s closely related to what I had said earlier with respect to becoming a producer nation.

“Modulating appetite, because at the end of the day, many of the things you see and many of the things that bother a lot of people with respect to foreign exchange is all essentially down to demand and supply.”

The CBN governor said the country’s economy was on the path of recovery, adding that several credit rating organisations, including IMF and Fitch, have attested to this.

He stated, “Indeed, there is hope. It’s amazing to me. I must say that while we find a lot of Nigerians embracing what they call the Japa syndrome, the foreign investors are coming in.

“Foreign investors are coming in and you can take it from somebody, who sees this all the time. They come to us all the time. Foreign investors come all the time. They ask the right questions.

“They make their notes, they go away. A month later, they come back again. They monitor progress the way they come back again, and as we have consistently enacted, setting policies they’ve seen.

“They put their money in the international rating agencies standard and Fitch, even the World Bank, has raised us from stable to more positive because they’ve seen it. They’ve seen it.

“These are not people or interest groups that will go and write something for the sake of writing. It’s very, very difficult many times to be able to defend some of the questions they ask.

“Once they see it, they analyse it. They test their hypotheses and then they come up with their own conclusions and they can see a positive trajectory.”

Earlier, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, in his opening speech, said the church was worried about the prevailing hardship in the country and government’s apparent inability to address the challenges. Ugorji said the federal government’s reform agenda was fast becoming counterproductive, adding that government’s efforts at addressing insecurity have been a failure.

The CBCN president said, “No doubt, the government is trying its very best to fix our battered economy and security outfits. If we have to be very frank with ourselves and not wallow in self-delusion, we must admit that we are faced with a case where therapy is worse than the disease.

“The government’s reform agenda is turning out to be counterproductive. Despite the efforts of the government to boost our economy, our nation has continued to sink economically deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit.”

Ugorji said what was expected was a drastic cut in the cost of governance for those in charge of governance, but this was not forthcoming, as politicians had continued to live in affluence and waste.

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