By Oginyi Ruth
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday sensitized over 2000 residents of Ebonyi State on its programmes aimed at promoting the welfare of the citizens as well as how to use the currency.
Speaking in the programme, the Assistant Director and Head of the Internal Communications Division, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr Sam Okogbue, explained that the series of interventions by CBN has helped to strengthen the country’s currency and economic development.
Okogbue stated this while addressing participants drawn from across the state on the apex bank’s fair tagged: Promoting financial stability and economic development’ at the International Conference Center in Abakaliki.
He maintained that CBN’s interventions cannot be fully actualized if people do not go and open bank accounts for their benefits and enjoined the participants to utilize the opportunity.
According to him, “But through the policies of the CBN, naira began to regain strength until we get to this present N360 per $1. So, however, all these things we are talking, whether in intervention measures, whether in agriculture, or in a small scale industries, it cannot be possible except people go to the bank and have bank accounts. You can’t talk to a banker when your name is not among the account holders.
“Ebonyi State is one of the best rice producers in the South East. I have been to Ikwo rice fields. The day I went there, I marvelled. You have the best rice mill. I have seen the two of them here.
“Our coming here is for two purposes. First is to announce to you that the CBN is ready to rub mind with the Nigerian people. Second is to bring to you some of the initiatives, policies and programmes that the CBN has come out with for the benefit of your economic welfare.
“This is a little about five years our present governor assumed office which he has completed the tenure. When he came, he made a statement and said that he would want a people-focused Central Bank; what that means is that he wants Central Bank that works for the ordinary people in Nigeria.
“It is no longer the central bank where you see the face of the mobile policemen at the gate but the central bank for the farmer, akara fryer, the small scale businessmen and women.
“You will recall that in 2015, our economy was in bad shape. We were not growing economically; that means what amount of goods and services we were producing in our economy was going down. What the economist call the recession.
“And if it is like that, unemployment will be growing. Inflation will also be rising. We discovered that all over the world, the prices of commodity prices were falling including the price of oil, which is our main export.
“We looked around. CBN began to find out. We discovered that even the foods we eat in this country were all imported. Not just being imported, huge sums of money to the magnitude of almost $1 billion were always spent yearly for the importation of rice. Even toothpick, matches were imported and unemployment was growing.
“First,, the CBN came out with the policy that says these things which we can conveniently produce in Nigeria, whether food or other small industries, we can no longer give foreign exchange for people to import it. If you have the foreign exchange, go and import.
“That time, it was 41 items. We stopped giving foreign exchange and at the same time we started encouraging people, this rice, especially, that is costing us a lot of money…, we began to talk to people and came out with a policy we call Anchor Borrowers Policy so that people can produce rice locally here.
“This is because if we produce enough rice, that means, more people will be recruited to produce it. And people were shouting that they can’t see foreign exchange to pay their children’s school fees abroad; they cannot go to hospitals in India and wherever they want to go. But CBN devised our own internal policy whereby we were able to meet the foreign exchange requirement of the people.
“And you discover also, that because the prices of this oil we export fail, our foreign reserves were falling. And if foreign reserves were falling, it means the exchange rate will begin to fall. It got to the point that $1 was exchange for N520. It was a very bad situation.”
Senistizing the participants on how dictate fake currency, CBN urged market women to always check for, water mark, which is to hold the naira note up to the light with the front of the note facing you to view image, check the security trade, serial number before accepting the money.
On mutilated note, the people were asked to return such money to any close CBN for extermination that after the examination, they will determine the value and pay the owner.
The people was warned to stop spreading currency on wedding as soon CBN would begin to clamp down on people who spread money in a wedding.