The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Saturday in Enugu assured Nigerians that the country would be out of the current economic recession soon, while also urging Nigerians to take advantage of the numerous policies, initiatives and programmes packaged by the bank to cushion the effects of the biting economic recession in the country.
Speaking at the bank’s fair organised for small and medium scale enterprises, artisan, farmers, banks, hairdressers, barbers, shoemakers and other business groups in Enugu, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications of CBN, Isaac Okoroafor said the bank was aware of the prevailing economic condition in the country and added that the situation would not last long.
“Though we are in trouble, it is just for a while. As fast as we can, let us re-adjust ourselves so we can get out of the present situation. First of all, what is recession? Recession simply put, is a period of dwindling economic realities. Incomes are falling and government’s revenue is dwindling. Unemployment is increasing because businesses are not the way they should be. They sack workers because income is shrinking.
“People are not spending especially in our case, because oil prices have collapsed and foreign exchange receipts have dried up; falling from $3.2 billion to less than $500 million a month. With this kind of situation, Nigerians should try to adjust themselves. This is the real change. We need to change our ways to the realisation of a new troubling situation which is that it is no longer business as usual. Nigerians should learn how to save the little they have, so they can use it over time.
“Nigerians should begin to eat what we produce and not to look for expensive dollars to import food. We should go back to corn, yam and made in Nigeria Rice. Let us produce toothpick and not import it from China. We should not import 20 million eggs from South Africa. We should stop importing chicken when we have them here. Nigeria should brace up. This is not 100 metre marathon. Let us brace up and change our ways. The most hit now are people who have refused to realise that we ought to eat what we produce,” he said.
On the policies packaged by the bank with capacity to cushion the effects of the economic challenge, Okoroafor said 60% of MSME development fund was meant for women and women owned enterprises noting that some have collected as much as N1 billion and N2 billion and they retail to registered co-operative members in those states in bits. Some states elected to pay the interest which is not more than 9% on behalf of the beneficiaries. That is a lot of guarantee and some are recording huge successes. We also have the commercial Agric Credit Scheme (CACS) for larger commercial farmers. We are for everybody.
“One of the greatest highlights this time is the youth entrepreneurship programme and that programme is for corps members who are either in service or have finished service in the last 5 years.
“This is how it works. If you are a serving corps member and you want to get into business, you can get as much as N3 million to start as an entrepreneur. What happens is that you are not required to provide any collateral because we discovered that collateral is the problem. Your degree or HND certificate will serve as your collateral because we know it is an asset in which you have made investment. So just surrender it and that is all.
“If you have finished up to 5 years ago, you can submit your NYSC and Degree or HND certificate and then you can take a loan. But before you do that, you have to make us a proposal. Let us know the kind of business you are doing. If we feel it is feasible, we invite and train you for 3 days and make you understand the intricacies of the business and to put your plan very well. After which we link you up with a bank. That is what we do,” he said.
The bank cited its N220 billion fund made available for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), which it said could be easily accessed.
On other policies already introduced by the bank to help stabilise the nation’s economy, Okoroafor said the decision of the bank to release a list of 41 items that Nigeria out to stop importing to the country was borne out of a genuine desire to take the nation’s economy to the next level.
“Look at rice for instance, 28 out of 36 states in Nigeria can produce rice and so, we have launched a programme on rice called Anchor Borrowers Programme. It is not just on rice but also on tomatoes palm produce etc.
“What we are saying is this: Come to us with your proposal. If you cannot stand alone with your collateral, form yourselves into cooperative and we are ready to work with you and state governments like we are working with Kebbi which is giving Nigeria 1 million tons of rice this year and remember this year, the Nation needs 6.1 million tons.
“If Kebbi State at its pilot stage can give us 1 million tons, Ebonyi is involved, Anambra, Cross-river, Benue, Zamfara and so on. They are all showing interest. If our farmers can be given finance like we have done to Kebbi State, Nigeria should be expecting rice in two years’ time,” he said.