by Ezinne Ajoku
It was reported that Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, speaking last Thursday at the launch of CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and 2016/2017 Dry Season Farming in Jibia, Katsina state said, “Nigeria’s import bill is exceptionally high; top four import commodities which include rice and wheat, consume over N1 trillion in foreign exchange annually.”
This statement is absolutely inaccurate.
To begin with, the top 4 import commodities as listed by the National Bureau of Statistics are:
1. Mineral products
2. Boilers, machinery and appliances
3. Chemical and allied products
4. Plastic and rubber
To break it down further, Nigeria’s import trade at the 3rd Quarter of 2016 was dominated by “Mineral fuel, lubricant, chemicals and related products.” While the import products which contributed the least to import trade are “crude, inedible materials, except for fuel, beverages and tobacco, animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes.”
The top imported product, mineral fuels, for Q3 came to N746.2 billion.
Secondly, Nigeria has not in the past 3 years “consumed” a trillion, in foreign currency or naira, on rice and wheat imports.
According to the National Bureau of Statistic’s Q3 report (which is the last available report for 2016, until the release of the Q4 report):
“The total value of Nigeria’s merchandise trade at the end of Q3, 2016, stood at N4,721.9 billion, an increase of N661.5 billion or 16.3% from the preceding quarter value of N4,060.4 billion. This development arose because of increase in both import and export.”
So the question is; if the total value of trade conducted in Nigeria comes to a little over 4.7 billion, which value includes both import and export products, where is the CBN governor getting the N1trillion data from?
The total value of all imports (not just rice and wheat alone) up to Q3 of 2016, that is January 2016 – September 2016, is pegged at N2,413 001.7billion.
Even if we were to reach for the stars, it is highly impossible that the addition of the last 3 months of the year will bring the import figures (for all products) to a trillion naira. Less so for rice and wheat alone.
There are 22 categories of import commodities. They are as follows: live animals & animal products; vegetable products; animal and vegetable fats and oils and other cleavage products; Prepared foodstuff, beverages, spirits and other vinegars; mineral products; products of the chemical and allied industries; plastic, rubber and articles thereof, raw hides and skins, leather furskins, etc ,saddlery; wood and articles of wood, wood charcoal and articles, paper making material; paper and paper board, articles; textiles and textile article; footwear, headgear, umbrella, sunshades, whips; articles of stone, plaster, cement,asbestos, mica, ceramic, pearls and semi-precious stones, base metals and articles of base metals; boilers, machinery and appliances, parts thereof; vehicles, aircrafts and parts thereof, optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring appliances;arms and ammunition, parts thereof; miscellaneous manufactured articles, works of art, collectors pieces and antiques; special items not classified according to kind.
Out of these twenty-two commodities, rice and wheat fall under vegetable products.
Find below the import figures for Vegetable products for Q1, Q2 and Q3 of 2016:
Q1: 65, 795.7
Q3: 122, 397.97
The total value for imports of vegetable products comes to
As you can see from the foregoing values, it is nothing that nears the path of a trillion naira. And this is simply the breakdown by quarter.
If we go by NBA’s YTD figures, there’s a slight increase.
In Q1, it was 65,795.7
In Q2, it was 160,807.4
In Q3, it was 288,990.1
But this is still light years away from a trillion naira.
The CBN governor needs to resist the temptation to circulate false information. Alternatively, if he stands by the accuracy of the figures he disseminated, he should adduce evidence to that effect.