By Elizabeth Chukwuma
Officials of the National Bureau of Public Statistics, NBS, which is a government agency that gives a monthly statistical report about the state of the economy are no longer finding it funny about the three-old Border closure with the neighboring Republic of Benin, Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroon. This is because of the rising inflationary rate in the economy.
The agency officials source of anger was that the rate of inflation in the country is growing astronomically and needed to be tackled before it turns into hyper- inflation. The Bureau in its latest report had given its verdict on the economy: ‘’ Inflation rate in the country has reached an all-time of 11.6 percent high. The NBS had lamented that it was worse in the month of October but giving no sign of improving, an indication that Nigerians are in for hard time.
This is where Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, who is managing the government fiscal and monetary policies and Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, who is, enforcing the government fiscal policies at the seaports,Cargo and International Airports , including the Land Borders across the country to have a rethink over the Border closure and present the true situation report of the state of the economy to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, particular, Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Terminal Operators , may want to give the impression that cargo traffic at the ports have been on the increase since the Border Closure which means more money entering into government coffers.
The question on the lips of most people is: what is the point of the NCs, and other the government agencies including the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation , NNPC, generating trillions of naira for the government which could not make any meaningful impact on the economy . The fear in unofficial quarters was that the country was heading towards becoming another Zimabwe, where the economy has been eaten up by inflation , thus making their local currency worthless in the foreign exchange market.
The NBS report should worry the CBN governor, particular, but he would not take it that the inflationary rate in the economy was getting worse. He had stopped short at describing the Bureau as alarmists. The CBN governor may have spoken the mind of Zainab Ahmed, the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, when he granted interiews to Channels Televison, stressing that the ‘’benefits of the Border Closure far out- weighs the adverse effects being bandied about by the NBS.
Aithough, Emefiele , may have known that the officials of the National Bureau of Statics were right in their claim of the rising inflationary rate in the economy but could not agree with them to avoid putting himself in bad light before the Cabal in the Presidency . More also, he did not want to give room to the Presidential Advisory Council, PAC, which have the ears of the President , to rubbish the efforts of the CBN , in running the country’s economy.
Curiously enough, he CBN, governor may not have totally disagreed with the NBS, report, as he had told the Channels Television interviewers that that the ‘’Border Closure had actually resulted in some supply shortages because of the goods that are dumped into the country which are no more because of the of the Border Drills, comprising of various security agencies including the NCS and the Nigerian Imigration Service, NIS. The Border Drills which is coordinated by Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, across the country had resulted in the closure of the various Borders across the country.
Note that the CBN boss , had always made the Katsina state born politician and Nigerian President to believe that the border closure has’’ benefited Nigerians’’ insisting people are getting jobs as ‘’Companies which were almost crippled because of unfair competition with cheap smuggled goods had bounced back to life as their manufactured goods now get adequate patronage from local Consumers .
According to him, ‘’farmers who produce poultry products are gradually getting a foothold on the economy to sell in the Nigerian market as all unapproved routes used by smugglers to carry out their nefarious activities had been blocked by the Border Drills security operative, Federal Operations Units, FOU, and the CGC trike Force across the country. Only recently, the CGC, Lagos Zonal , Strike Force, in an operation led by one Jack Okpabi, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC, had impounded over 1.3 million cartoons of poultry products at a smugglers Hideout at Sango Otta, ogun state
Many believe that both for the quick intervention of the CGC Strike Force , based on intelligence gathering, the hundreds cartons of the smuggled poultry products hidden in a secret location at the Sango Otta would have been pushed into the Nigerian market which could have destalised the local poulty farmers. This is because farmers may not had been able to sell their locally produced poultry products until the smuggled ones which had wide patronage are sold.
With the intensified anti-smuggling operations and improved revenue collection by the revenue generating agencies matched by good government policies,Emefiele the CBN ,helmsman is optimistic that the rising inflationary rate which had had peaked in the month of October , 2019, to 11.61 from the previous month of 11.24 percent , will ‘’moderate aggressively downwards in the next three to four months’’ .This is good news for Nigerians if this prediction could become a reality.
He may have spoken as a top government functionary who has an insider information about the state of the state of the country’s economy. But in spite of the CBN governor assurance of a drop in inflation in the country, not may traders believe him. Take the Complaints of an Lagos based dealer of Food stuffs who lamented that suppliers had virtually added money to their Agricultural products including locally produced rica, Garri and poultry products., The trader noted that it is not what one paid for a bag of white or red garri today, that he could get it from the supplier the next yay, ‘s economy an indication that astronomical rise in inflationary rate in the country was real as revealed by the NBS.
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