Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Saturday said Nigeria missed the opportunity of being a great economy when it saw oil and abandoned agriculture.
Speaking while delivering a lecture at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), the apex bank governor said CBN would constantly review its policies to ensure the best for the economy.
He said the impact of the aggressive drive of the bank to close the gap between the interbank and parallel market is already evident in the economy.
“We missed the opportunity of being a great economy when we saw oil and abandoned agriculture, the backbone of the economy in the 1960s and 1970s,” he said.
“In those good days, the south-east and south-south are known for palm oil, the south-west for cocoa and north for groundnut but we saw oil and abandoned agriculture.
“Country like Netherland is oil producing but also produces agriculture in large quantities, the majority of fish we consume in this country is from Netherland.”
Emefiele said the bank would continue to review its policies to ensure the best for the country.
“CBN will continue to monitor evolving situations and constantly review policies to ensure the best for the economy,” he said.
“How do we justify the importation of items like apple, cucumber and eggs from South Africa, beef from Zambia and toothpicks from China?
“These are items we can locally produce and use money in importing these items to beef up local industries that will, in turn, create employments for our youth.
“We must take cognisance of the fact that imports are leakages to every economy.”
The CBN said it is aware of the pains Nigerians are going through because of the economic recession, but said recession is an opportunity “to look inward to diversify the economy and create employments for our youths.”
“We must diversify our economy and go back to agriculture as we cannot survive as a people by importing everything,” he said.
“We must export more and import few items in order to make our economy strong and increase our foreign exchange earnings.”
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