That the country is facing dire economic crisis is not news to anyone in the globe now. In response, the government has ‘mapped out’ what it believes is the best way out of the recession. This map involves reducing and if possible eliminating the dependence of Nigerians on foreign products and rather stimulating growth of the local manufacturing industry. This has been harped on several times by the economic policy makers, including the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
However, the under-fire Governor of the CBN seems not to be really interested in the proclamations of promoting local goods made in Nigeria, if the claims of the Chief Executive of Erisco Foods, Mr. Eric Umedofia is anything to go by.
According to Udofia, despite the CBN’s promise to allocate 60% of available forex to the manufacturing industry, the company has not been able to access forex for months now. While addressing protesting workers, Udofia implied that the CBN did not back up its promise with actions and therefore indigenous producers had no support. Erisco Foods, he claimed, could not buy required machinery because Shell has been dragged to court by the FG on these charges.
As if hampering the production of local goods is not enough, Udofia claims that commercial banks had locally available goods like fish head, tomato paste and razor blades on their forex bids, with repeated reports to the CBN and relevant authorities falling on deaf ears. This has led to the stock up of over N6 billion worth of tomato paste, which the company cannot sell due to competition from foreign brands.
Due to the unfavorable situation, Udofia said that the company would shut down, laying off about 2,000 workers and move to another country from where it would export tomato paste to Nigeria.
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It is in cases like this we would expect the CBN to enforce its function as a regulator and investigate the claims made against the commercial banks. However, according to Udofia, despite ‘loads of evidence’, no action has been taken.
If Udofia’s words hold true, there would be another 2,000 additional jobless people by this time next month. What would be even more saddening would be the fact that those people and the other thousands depending on them would be catered for if the CBN had done its job properly.