FOUR YEARS OF BUHARI’S ADMINISTRATION — an era, seen by experts in economy, that received solid support by Nigeria’s Central Bank monetary policies, under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor, led to marginal progress in the country’s economy, despite the economy sliding into recession and other challenges.
Thursday, last week, Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki, read President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter on the floor of the upper chamber, seeking lawmakers endorsement to re-appoint Godwin Emefiele as Governor of Central Bank for another five years tenure. Buhari’s request to the Senate, indicates he may be seeking continuity on Emefiele’s good work at the Apex Bank and support for his government.
Emefiele’s re-appointment as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has elicited excitement among analysts and stakeholders. They see Emefiele’s return as good-tiding for the economy.
Reactions from the negative side have enmeshed Godwin Emefiele and his management team on financial scandal. The CBN Governor, is presently, in the eye of the storm, being trailed by mockery of a leaked audio recording alleging mismanagement of huge funds by the Apex Bank management.
Godwin Emefiele, Monday, met President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, at the heat of the leaked audio scandal. Details of the meeting have not been made public on both sides — the presidency and from the CBN.
But CBN’s management has come out strong to dismiss allegations that money was missing or has been stolen from the Apex Bank. The questionable audio recording in circulation, narrates alleged discussion on discrepancies in CBN’s Accounts by the Governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, and senior management of the bank.
Refutal statement by Isaac Okoroafor, Director Corporate Communications, CBN, said: “Under the leadership of Governor Emefiele, the CBN has always stood for, and vigorously pursued transparency in its stewardship of public resources and policies”.
As far as CBN is concerned, Okoroafor said: “The integrity of the CBN Governor remains unassailable. He has no account in Dubai or anywhere in the world and would never convert the funds of CBN for personal use. Not in the past, not now and not ever”.
He advised Nigerans and the general public to disregard the audio recording because it was bugged. “The use of selective wiretapped conversations of the Bank’s Management, to malign his character and integrity will never stand. The Bank will pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice”, Okoroafor said.
He said the audio was distorted in a style to create different impression of the matter being discussed, which focused on proffering solutions to the misunderstanding on the Bank’s balance sheet. He said CBN would continue to do all it could to represent best public interests, in the best possible way and urged Nigerians to trust the management of the bank.
Giving CBN’s version of the situation Okoroafor said: “As publicly known the CBN was approached in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council chaired by the Vice President, to assist State Governments with Conditional Budget Support. This happened in the aftermath of the significant nose-dive in global oil prices and associated FAAC allocations.
“In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerian workers got their salaries, pensions and gratuities, and that the economy continued to recover from recession, the Bank provided about N650 billion in loans at 9 per cent with a two-year grace period to 35 States of the Federation.
“These monies were distributed to the states monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency. In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft Account, erroneously classified about N150 billions of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund.
“The selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolving it. Obviously, it soon became clear that a State Government loan cannot be classified as “bad” or “irrecoverable” when the State still exists and getting FAAC allocations.
“The Bank then reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance and they jointly gave comfort to the auditors who accepted in writing that these monies would be repaid. On this basis, the auditors reversed the negative entry and then certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the State of Affairs”, Okoroafor said.
Would Godwin Emefiele come clean from this scandal? Okoroafor seem to believe in strong terms that the distorted conversation of the audio recording in circulation is STAINING MR. CLEAN.