For much of the past year, Nigeria’s economy, the largest on the continent, has been mired in a recession. Shocked mainly by a fall in the price of oil, the country’s biggest export, and a resumption of militancy in the Niger Delta region which hobbled oil production, Nigeria’s economy ended 2016 on course for a full year of negative growth.
In recent weeks economists across the globe said that Nigeria will get its economy back on track in 2017 if it makes politically risky reforms. The London-based World Economics report declared Nigeria’s economy is showing prospects and it will recover from the recession by months to come.
Investigation by Per Second News shows a ‘dangerous cocktail of new threats’ by three of president Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees that have undermined Nigeria’ economic recovery, according to economists.
The trio of ministers of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; minister of trade and investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama; embattled comptroller general (CG), Nigeria Customs Service Col Hammed Ali are advocating vigorously for the floating of the Naira and the lifting of the ban on 41 prohibited items by the Federal Government, according to sources in government.
The 41 items banned from benefitting from foreign exchange at the Nigeria foreign exchange window are rice; cement; margarine; palm kernel/palm oil produce/vegetable oil; meat and processed meat products; vegetables and processed vegetable products; poultry-chicken, eggs, turkey; private airplanes/jets; indian incense; tinned fish in sauce (Geisha)/sardines; cold rolled steel sheets; galvanized steel sheets; roofing sheets and wheelbarrows.
Others are head pans; enamelwares; steel drums; steel pipes; wire rods deformed and not deformed); iron rods and reinforcing bars; wire mesh; steel nails; security and razor wire; wood particles boards and panels; wood fiber boards and panels; plywood boards and panels; wooden doors; furnitures; toothpicks; glass and glassware; kitchen utensils; tableware; tiles-vitrified and ceramic; textiles; woven fabrics; clothes; plastic and rubber products, cellophane wrappers; soaps and cosmetics; tomatoes/tomato pastes; and euro bonds/foreign currency bond/share purchase.
According to a source in the know, “Their argument is that since Nigerians are facing difficult times now, these 41 items should be removed from the prohibited lists. They are embarking on campaign of blackmail to convince Mr. President to compel the CBN governor Mr. Emefiele to rescind the ban order. They are employing every means to achieve their selfish aims but I can tell you that the president would not agree to this temporary relief measure,” the source said.
The source who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity argued that those urging the CBN boss to let the ban on the prohibited items are “selfish and self serving”, adding that an attempt to lift the order on the 41 items would help to compound Nigeria’s economic problems.
Lamenting the roles of the three Buhari appointees in undermine the president’s economic recovery programme, a presidency source said “It is sad that Adeosun, Enelama, Ali and some unnamed traditional rulers are calling for this reversal. Who are they really working for? For the Nigerian people or for a few cabals serving their interests? This is the tragedy of our country. I can’t imagine a minister or any political appointee of this government calling for the unbanning of the 41 items under the prohibition list? This is really sad”.
Economists claim that if the CBN bows to pressure and lift the ban on the 41 items, the nation’s economy would be doomed, adding that the farmers and stakeholders in the small and medium scale sector who are gradually finding their feet in the country would be unable to function thus fast-tracking the nation’s journey to total economic collapse.
“The president strongly supports the CBN anchor borrowing program designed to grow the agricultural sector and we are having positive results. Kebbi and Lagos are growing rice. Other states are following suite. And from statistics available, Thai rice Farmers were only able to import about 58,000 metric tons of rice to Nigeria in 2016 because we are gradually becoming self sufficient in rice production. This is the direction we should be looking and not going back to urban the 41 items that we can produce locally,” said a Lagos based economist speaking under the condition of anonymity.
Per Second News gathered that the refusal by the CBN governor to buckle under pressure and rescind the decision has led to pressure on President Muhammad Buhari to relieve Mr. Emefiele of his job as the apex bank’s boss.
CBN, our investigations revealed is insisting that the ban on the items will help conserve foreign reserves as well as facilitate the resuscitation of domestic industries and improve employment generation.
The trio and some powerful traditional rulers in the country have been linked to call for the removal of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele for his refusal to bow to pressure to lift ban on the 41 items.
Source: The Nigerian Voice (business)