Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that some of the challenges faced by the Nigerian economy are structural in nature. He made this remark on Thursday October 19, 2023, during a courtesy call to the Governor, by the new Central Bank Benin Branch Controller, Mr. Michael Ngbeze and his team, at the Edo State Government House, in Benin City.
Welcoming the delegation, the Governor noted that the Central Bank branch in the state has played a significant role in stabilizing business transactions, while commending the reforms that are being undertaken by the apex bank.
Lamenting the state of the nation’s economy, Obaseki said: “Some of the challenges that we face in our economy are structural and will take time for us to restructure. And until we fully restructure, unfortunately, we will have to live with a lot of challenges, some of them you have just outlined; whether it be exchange rates, interest rates, and some of the other monetary tools that are required to help foster growth in the economy.
“Unfortunately, it is going to be tough. There is no other way to describe it for quite a while to come until the underlying structure of the Nigerian State and the Nigerian economy is changed.”
The Governor further spoke on the need to diversify the state’s economy, particularly the economy of remote local governments and also strengthen POS operators in the state by collaborating with the apex bank.
Obaseki said: “As you have told us, we have a large representation of your banks in the state, but what is also interesting is the level of financial inclusion we are seeing through the activities of a lot of POS operators around the state. We hope that we will be working with you closely to help strengthen these operators who are providing services in remote communities of our state.
“As a state, we are very interested and keen on what is going on; we are keen on how to promote, diversify the economy of the state, and also strengthen our citizens and the economy of remote local governments.
“We are having an onboarding session for our new local government Chairmen, and their officers. And one of the things we are emphasizing is, focusing on improved revenue generation. You cannot generate revenue without improving the economic activities in those areas. One area we have identified, which will be quick wins in terms of generating revenues, is our ability to move collections into e-platforms. That is why your e-naira platform will be of interest to us.”
The Governor also reiterated the purpose and importance of the Edo State Residency Card, stating that the e-naira can function as a veritable instrument to support the state’s residency ID cards, as every citizen in Edo is required to now have a residency card, in order to transact with and benefit from government institutions and facilities.
On his part, the new apex bank Benin branch Controller, Mr. Michael Ngbeze, commended the Governor for his intervention in promoting peace and stability during the naira redesign, while outlining the key policies by the new management of the apex bank to support a healthy economy for the nation.
Speaking on the challenges faced by the nation’s economy, Ngbeze noted: “The Nigeria economy is still struggling with severe debt payment, rising inflation and slow growth. So, these are things that the current management is struggling with to ensure that we will be able to deal with it; the effects of recent policy reforms are still lingering, as businesses are faced with high production cost and forex shortages.”
Ngbeze further intimated the Governor on the nation’s digital currency (e-naira) launched by the immediate past administration, and its benefits.
He said: “As you well know, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the E-naira on October 25, 2021, as the digital version of our fiat currency, the naira. The objectives for the creation of the CBN digital currency, amongst others, are to foster micro payment digitally, promote inflation and inclusion, reduce cash processing cost by reducing dependence on cash for transaction settlement, amplify deficiency of monetary policy and facilitate transfer payment to citizens.
“The E-naira is equally a robust payment platform for the delivery and deployment of a host of products and services; settlement of contractors, collection and payment of bills are currently executed on the platform. Other innovations are collaborations that will promote and deepen the use of Central Bank digital currency.”
“We have been able to onboard two universities; Benson Idahosa University and University of Benin, and it is my wish that the Governor will be onboarded today and a wallet will be opened for the Governor and his team”, he added.