MAKE-BELIEVE, not ambition, many analysts believe, may have driven Godwin Emefiele, present Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, into partisan politics, while still in office. At 61, with over 35 years banking industry experience, they say, Emefiele could not feign ignorance of ethics of his profession, moral code, code of conducts, and the CBN Act, that regulates his engagements while in office as CBN Governor.
Two Emefiele support groups had crisscrossed parts of the country, drumming support for Emefiele’s presidency in 2023. The group’s pressure on Emefiele, piled and persisted. Emefiele remained silent. Nigerians began to react and urged him to speak up, or resign from office if he was behind the groups’ activities, yet, remained in office as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.
Emefiele responded to public criticism about the activities of the groups via tweeter, in March 2022. His words: “My focus at this time is a robust monetary policy and fighting inflation which is now a global problem; building a strong financial system in an increasingly uncertain global economy”.
The tweets further stated: “Development finance and supporting farmers & manufacturers in our self-sufficiency and import substitution drive; raising N15 trillion for InfraCo infrastructure financing. Building a world class International Financial Center in Lagos; as we support the @MBuhari Administration to finish strong. #NoDistractionsPlease.”
Emefiele’s tweets made matters worse. Nigerians reacted with venom. They said their intelligence were insulted. That Emefiele was taking the CBN Act and the country for granted. Further, that Emefiele lacked integrity, moral, ethical and professional conscience. He was, also, accused of arrogance, self-indulgence, sermonizing by constantly invoking God, while acting in the opposite.
NIGERIANS IN MAY 6, 2022, were further shocked, with media reports, that certain rice farmers association in Nigeria, and the two Emefiele support groups, raised N100 million on behalf of Emefiele, and purchased expression of interest and nomination form, for him to contest the 2023 presidential election, on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Many see this as very daring. Some called for him to be investigated by Nigeria’s Code of Conduct Bureau, CDB; Independent Corrupt And Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC; and the Economic And Financial Crime Commission, EFCC. Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was berated to move sensitive elections material out of CBN’s custody.
The confidence of Nigerians on Emefiele, as the financial sector regulator, began to wane, having gone into active partisan politics while in office, and as a registered card-carrying member of ruling All Progressive Congress, APC. Some see him as an opportunist, with no clear mission. But taking undue advantage of his position as CBN Governor, without clear political records, to venture into presidential ambition.
Emefiele’s further responded to critics on the purchase of N100 million form for his presidential bid. He said he [Emefiele] could afford to purchase the form from his “modest savings”, instead of acting by proxy. And he was waiting for God’s direction before making categorical statement on his ambition. By this statement, calls for his resignation, or be sacked, resonated further, because he did not address the real issue.
EMEFIELE PREFERRED, to honour calls from rice farmers association, and groups, who raised funds and purchased N100 million expression of interest and nomination form, on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and urged to contest for the 2023 presidency, against national interest. Governments in developing, or developed countries, analysts say, would hardly, put up with Emefiele’s conduct.
The demands of Emefiele’s office, when the economy and national currency were consistently and irredeemably plummeting, inflation hitting the roof, possible reactions and backlash of international financial institutions – such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund; and the provisions of the CBN Act, that governed his engagements – would have made Emefiele to heed public outcry and have a re-thing of his move.
Analysts say, genuinely ambitious persons, demonstrate reasonableness, exercise discretion and restraints, and act in good conscience. They are not short-sighted and blind to realities. Not persons who fail to read and understanding situations, and act in ways that defy understanding. Emefiele, they say is caught in these lattices. They say, when pressure mounted on Emefiele, he should have resign from office as CBN Governor. Thereafter, fully engage in partisan politics, as he wished.
Rather, Emefiele went to court, and through ex-parte application, sought legal backing to remain in office, and continue with partisan politics. A Federal High Court in Abuja, rejected Emefiele’s request to restrain INEC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, from allowing him to pursue his presidential bid, while retaining his position as CBN Governor. Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, refused to grant the order.
Emefiele visited President Buhari at the heat of his controversial bid for the presidency. He was asked by journalist, after meeting with the president, why his presidential bid was causing anxiety among Nigerians. His reply: “Let them have a heart attack. It’s good to have a heart attack. I am having a lot of fun.” What a joke! Analysts exclaimed.
Analysts and commentators, bemoaned Emefiele’s actions. Whether he, eventually, withdrew his political gamble to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023; they strongly condemned Emefiele’s actions, and asked President Buhari to sack him for breaching public trust and confidence of his office. They urged Buhari to sack Emefiele without further delay.
IT WAS ANOTHER SUBJECT matter, they argued, whether Buhari’s presidency cared much of what his appointees do with power, while in office. Or whether the issues being discussed about Emefiele’s audaciousness, were clear to the presidency and the ruling party.