Central Bank of Nigeria Governor and Chief Economist of the federation, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has been in the news lately, sadly, for the wrong reasons. He has been rabidly preoccupied with contesting for the Presidency under the aegis of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC). In this effort, he has abandoned his major assignment as Number One man in macroeconomic policy formulation of the land. When he saw that staying in office while pursuing his untoward dream of becoming president was generating a lot of controversy, he sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation to court. This is unbecoming. This can only happen in a country where impunity reigns as perpetrated by the ruling APC and its cohorts. He has also jettisoned all codes of social engagement which hitherto governed the relationship between a serving state-appointed official and partisanship politics. This man can no longer be trusted to manage the Nigerian economy: he should resign or be fired!
Mr. Emefiele was appointed by the PDP administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan on June 4, 2014. He was reappointed to serve a second five-year term in 2019, an unprecedented tenure in the history of the apex bank. The suggestion, therefore , was that he performed creditably as governor to deserve a second term.
However, his activities in the last three years suggest anything but brilliance or competence. He has a knack for yielding to the whims and caprices of the powers-that-be, especially the ruling party. It is obviously for this reason he has opted to bear the presidential flag of the party. This is unethical. It is a breach of convention and the laws setting up the bankers’ bank. Mr. Emefiele must retrace his steps now and tow the path of honour by resigning immediately.
In his years in office, he has created multiple exchange rates which have distorted the economy. Inflation is at an all-time high. Unemployment rate is alarming. Under his watch, Nigeria has been dubbed the ‘poverty capital of the world’. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reported in 2020 that 83 million , that is a staggering 40% of Nigerians now live in poverty. The naira has dipped in value in relation to the dollar by about 200%, that is, from N361 to a dollar to a whopping N550. The CBN is now seen as an extension of the Government House, much to the chagrin of patriots and reputable economists. His interventionist policies in agriculture have produced mixed results. He has also dabbled into entertainment by producing capital for the renovation and rebranding of the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. What has this got to do with the economy? The forecast for economic growth in 2022 was initially 3.3 percent in February. This has been decelerated to 3 percent in 2022 from a 3.6 percent in 2021. What makes Emefiele believe that he has the magic wand to govern Nigeria?
The CBN Act (2007) Section 1, subsection 9 states that ”the Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part time employment or vocation whether enumerated or not except such personal or charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full time duties”. The law is clear. Emefiele’s actions so far are in breach of the law.
Laws are meant to safeguard institutions from abuse. They are not time-specific. These laws also protect individuals who hold offices from manipulation by the executive branch. Such Governors as Clement Isong (1967-1975), Adamu Ciroma (1975-1977), Ola Vincent (1977-1982), Abdulkadir Ahmed (1982-1993) Paul Ogwuma (1993-1999) and Joseph Oladele Sanusi (1999-2004), Charles Soludo (2004-2009) sustained the integrity and profile of the bank even in tempestuous times. We cannot say the same for Emefiele’s immediate predecessor under whose tenure the CBN became involved in donating money. Sadly, Emefiele is in cahoots with the Executive branch on the acts of impunity. Like high court judges, the CBN Governor must be above board as regulator and economic powerhouse of the economy. The CBN is a special bank that needs total commitment and absolute insulation from partisan politics.
As a citizen, Emefiele reserves the right to contest for the presidency. But he must resign from office three months to the time. As it is, Nigerians cannot be sure of his independence and fair sense of judgment having openly declared his political affiliation as a participant. He also cannot assert neutral authority. His actions are subject to biased interpretations to suit the incumbent administration. So, Mr. Emefiele should resign now. If he refuses to resign honourably, the President should fire him forthwith. Acts of impunity are injurious to the collective psyche and future of the Federal Republic.
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