We need to create jobs and the enabling environment for the young people to thrive and work,” governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele remarked when he played host to director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, when she was on official visit to Nigeria this year.
That depicts the passion, determination and zeal the CBN governor has, in his stack pursuit of job creation for the Nigerian youth. He strongly believes that Nigeria’s status as the poverty capital of the world (according to a report by World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute) can be changed in the short to medium term. In furtherance to that, Emefiele has shown – through various pro-economic growth policies and programmes – that Nigeria’s unemployment and poverty rates could be reduced significantly.
It is often said that passionate people make the greatest contributions to society. Emefiele believes the greatest priorities of every public and private official should be the welfare and wellbeing of the generality of the citizenry, creation of jobs and wealth to reduce poverty and unemployment that are often the prime causes of insecurity that is currently ravaging the country.
At one of his media briefings in 2020, Emefiele made a passionate appeal to all public office holders thus: “we have to create jobs for our youths. If we don’t create the enabling environment and jobs for our teaming youths now, they would come back to hurt us.”
His assumption of office as CBN governor has proven to be a turning point in the resuscitation of the collapsed textile, agriculture and the creative industries. For example, about nine million jobs have been created by the Emefiele-led CBN between 2014 when he took office and now. From that, over five million jobs were created through the bank’s Agriculture Guarantee Credit Scheme and another 1 million through its Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme. Other programmes as micro small and medium scale enterprises development fund, credit refinancing scheme and Anchor Borrowers’ Programme also saw the creation of millions of jobs.
Emefiele’s administration has introduced the use of labour-intensive methods to retain and create jobs in critical economic areas. It also undertakes jobs that enhance growth and create infrastructural investments in roads, bridges, solar power, and communication technologies, promote manufacturing and local productions at all levels and curb unnecessary demand for foreign exchange to stem the pressure on exchange rate while at the same time protecting the very poor and most vulnerable through pro-poor spending.
The CBN injected a N50 billion stimulus package intended to reactivate direct labour in national infrastructure projects to create jobs for youths in relevant priority sectors. It also launched a programme to create jobs in digital outsourcing.
There was also a N60 billion fund package designed to create 296,000 jobs in the construction and rehabilitation of roads in the six geo-political zones of the country through the use of local resources as well as N90 billion for the launch of a national programme to promote domestic use of compressed natural gas (CNG) and support the creation of one million jobs in the process.
Similarly, the CBN injected N23.4 billion into the economy to support the creation of one million jobs through the conversion of 30 million homes from dirty fuels (kerosene, charcoal and diesel) to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and achieve emissions reduction in greenhouse gases while also applying LPG in other sectors such as agriculture, power generation, transport, industry and technology.
Emefiele and his team of development experts at the apex bank know that the textile industry in Nigeria today is capable of an average output of between 150,000 metric tons (MT) and 300,000MT with a ginning capacity of 497,000MT at 51 per cent capacity utilisation from 19 per cent.
Recognising the huge potential of the Cotton Textile and Garment (CTG) subsector, the CBN then embarked on a journey to resuscitate the sector with a plan to increase cotton production, increase the capacity of ginneries and textile companies in the country, attain self-sufficiency in cotton production and create jobs, while enhancing the skills of Nigerians across the cotton value chain. A critical step in the CTG resuscitation programme was the distribution of cotton seeds and inputs to over 278,500 cotton farmers across the country between 2019 and 2020.
Also, over 620,000 direct and indirect jobs were created in two years as a result of the disbursement of N44 billion to operators in the CTG sector. The jobs were created through some measures targeted at improving the fortunes of operators in the CTG sector while working to stop the smuggling and dumping of textile materials in the country. Textile sector got 100 per cent of their major raw material (cotton lint) at a CBN-subsidised rate of N440,000 as against the market price of N593,000.
In the creative sector, Mr Emefiele has midwifed an arrangement that would lead to the creation of an estimated 35,000 jobs. Emefiele had announced that 10,000 direct jobs will be created and 25,000 people engaged at the clusters that will be constructed at the National Theatre by the banking sector.
Hear him, “We anticipate that there would be at least 10,000 direct and indirect jobs created during the construction of the Lagos Creative & Entertainment Centre. We also project that over 25,000 people will be engaged in different sections of the centre when the signature cluster is completed, with anticipated multiplier effect of other job opportunities.”
Under his watch, the development finance interventions of the central bank in five sectors of the Nigerian economy have helped to create jobs for 325,936 through funding of 30,164 projects across the country. The apex bank recorded that success through targeted interventions in the development of a digital economy in Nigeria.
The bank had earlier disbursed N149.21 billion to 316,869 beneficiaries under the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) to alleviate the plight of households and business owners as well as drive economic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of those efforts were jeered towards creating jobs and wealth for more Nigerians.
Emefiele thinks Nigerian youths also need to embrace agriculture and explore the opportunities that are being created. While unveiling the first maize pyramid and flag-off of the 2021 Maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Katsina recently, he restated the bank’s readiness to support youths that are willing to engage in agriculture. This is even as the governor reiterated the bank’s opposition to the importation of maize into Nigeria.
Emefiele reiterated that the bank had put in place several measures to improve access to credit for youths interested in Agriculture under the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Agri Business Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).
The CBN governor’s decision to support the creative industry was born out of his deep conviction that the sector holds the key to job creation, inclusive growth and poverty reduction.
According to official reports, the ABP that was introduced by the Emefiele-led CBN has already financed over 3.1 million farmers to the tune of over N492 billion for the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In terms of job creation, the programme has generated over three million direct and indirect jobs across the agricultural value chain.
The popular view is that the bank continues to use its intervention programmes to target unemployment. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) the nation’s unemployment rate as of the end of 2020 rose to 33.3 per cent from 27.1 per cent recorded as of Q2 2020. This figure is projected to increase further in 2022.