Reading severally through the article by the veteran economist, Henry Boyo in two national newspapers of Monday, 11th July, 2016, entitled ‘Economy: Kaleidoscope of recent media reports’ I failed to understand the import of the endeavour or the message he tried pushing to the public. Or is it that he is changing his style of attack on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), or running dry of ideas? Mr. Boyo has carved a niche for himself with his acerbic proses on the managers (past and present) of the apex bank. I have had to argue with people on several occasions over many of his articles and commentaries in both print and electronic media that, if his economic prescriptions are that potent and valuable, governments, past and present, would have rolled out red carpet, begging him to help turn the fortunes of Nigeria around. Even the Bretton Woods Institutions and other multilateral financial institutions would have found him most valuable.
Every week in the last 17 years, Boyo churns out articles rubbishing any policy of the CBN or its managers. This is not to say that patriotic citizens should not pull the ear of their government when going off the track, but there are decent ways through which this could be achieved without turning out to be a nuisance. Even if his ideas are sympathetic to, or he is a collaborator of the neocolonial agents – local or foreign, it is high time he turned a new leaf by joining hands with the government of the day and the CBN in their efforts to wake up the comatose economy. More so that, he had laboured vainly propounding impracticable idealistic proposals since I started to follow his articles shortly after Chief Joseph Sanusi was appointed the CBN Governor during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration as a civilian president through HRH Sanusi Lamidi Sanusi, the former governor of the Bank. He is yet to sheath his sword.
He became so virulent in his attack on the Bank’s policies shortly after the present governor, Godwin Emefiele assumed office, for no fathomable reason. He was not sparing on the barred 41 items from access to forex. He has severally accused the CBN of distortional monopoly of the dollar supply and serial naira devaluation, not to mention CBN inability to rein-in excess liquidity in the system. Though I agree with him that serial devaluation will not help the economy at this moment, diversification of the economy as currently spearheaded by the CBN will make the economy to be more competitive internationally, and that is what Nigeria needs now.
This is not to say that Mr. Boyo’s commentaries are valueless, but certainly unpatriotic. There is more dignified route through which he can have the ears of the economic managers rather than trading them at the market place for reasons best known to him. May I ask the veteran economist if there has not been any economic gain since the forex restriction on 41 items? The results are quite glaring, particularly the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme on rice farming in Kebbi State, not to mention other rewarding interventions by the Bank in critical sectors of the economy.
Has the Naira not been adequately protected? The recent flexible forex regime was a well thought-out policy unveiled by the CBN at its last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, mainly for the benefit of the economy. The policy which has been severally applauded by the IMF, notable financial experts, industrialists and real sector practitioners except Mr. Boyo has been described as one of the best policies the economy needs now to get back on its feet. If Boyo’s intention was to be academic, the extracts picked from several publications quoted from should have been taken out as a whole, not by picking what suits his manipulative intention. Those published negative extracts are counterproductive to the desire of the CBN. Mr. Boyo as a veteran is expected to help the CBN promote and drive the new forex regime through educative articles not ones that will further scare away foreign investors. Even in the articles in question, he failed to convey any meaningful message than that the CBN is taking Nigerians on another ride of empty promises. What does Mr. Henry Boyo want?
The problem with the economy was not caused by Mr. Emefiele. It was only a pity that the man was appointed when the economy was challenged. Mr. Boyo should also note that Emefiele, on assuming office, came with a vision he encapsulated in a-10 point agenda never done in the history of Nigeria central banking. He has battled to ensure that interest rates remain low and inflation at single digits. Emefiele is not responsible for the militancy in the Niger Delta that has disrupted oil production. Mr. Boyo, a respected elder from the Niger Delta region is expected to go home and talk to the renegades destroying the economic fortunes of Nigeria.
Consequently, Mr. Boyo is thus advised to start threading dignified path and join every well-meaning Nigerian to support government’s effort to resuscitate the economy. President Muhammadu Buhari and Godwin Emefiele cannot do it all alone, no matter their strong will; they can only succeed with the support and patriotism of every Nigerian, including the respected Mr. Boyo.
- Emmanuel is of Delta State University.