The decision of Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to join the race for the country’s presidency has triggered a wave of fury among Nigerians who have continued to express disbelief and disgust over the development, THE WITNESS reports.
Emefiele, who is serving a second term as governor of Nigeria’s apex bank, had obtained the N100 million presidential nomination forms of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday.
The development, which suggests that he is now a card-carrying member of a political party, has raised both constitutional and ethical questions, and many have demanded his immediate resignation.
Banners and advert materials of the CBN governor had been in public domain while his support groups have been mobilising for him across the country, holding conferences and rallies.
Anger and disbelief have continued to swell in the country’s social media space since the Delta State-born banker’s power bid became public knowledge, months after he had maintained, amid speculations, that he was focused on his job.
“Following reports that the CBN governor Mr Godwin Emefiele has picked the APC N100m presidential nomination form, we urge him to immediately resign his position in line with S. 9 of the CBN Act,” rights group, Socioeconomic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) declared.
Abdul Mahmoud, alias Dr Great Oracle, a popular advocate noted that the CBN boss’ decision literally amounted to poking his fingers at Nigerians and Nigeria’s laws.
“Emefiele is now poking his fingers at us and our law. This is just beyond contemplation, reason and logic that a sitting CBN governor is not only a closet member of a political party, he’s actively taking part in a partisan contest in defiance of Section 1 (3) of of the CBN Act, 2007 which secures the independence of CBN,” noted the human rights lawyer via his Twitter handle @AbdulMahmud01.
“Section 9 of the act talks about the governor having no other vocation than running the CBN. If this isn’t a vocation for politics, nothing is. Terrible.”
The fury over Emefiele’s attempt at the highest office in the country, apart from its apparent illegality, stems, perhaps more from the fact that his reign at the apex bank has been uninspiring.
The naira under his watch has been on a free fall, currently nearing N600 to the dollar. The country has had to contend with a biting recession on two occasions under his watch. Inflation has been in double digits and unemployment is 35 per cent.
Worse still, many say he has been running the bank like a dictator. Early last year, he imposed a ban on cryptocurrency trade, which many young Nigerians had begun to welcome as a way out amid high unemployment figures.
Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State governor and chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, lambasted the CBN governor for his brazen act of running for the 2023 Presidency whilst in office.
Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, declared Emefiele’s action as odd, one that constituted illegality and ‘a joke taken too far’.
The Ondo governor condemned the action of Emefiele who also reportedly visited Buhari in Aso Villa on Friday to inform the President of his 2023 presidential ambition.
According to him, “The news of the purchase of Declaration of Intent and Nomination Forms to contest for the office of the President in the forthcoming general elections, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, purportedly by the supporters of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been received with palpable disbelief and shock by many Nigerians. This act, if unchecked, timeously, portends great danger to the fragile economy of the country.
“Rumours had been rife on the subterranean partisan activities linked to him through these shadowy characters in the recent weeks. Pictures of branded vehicles, ostensibly purchased for electioneering campaigns, were also posted on the social media. The audacious moves by those who claimed to be supporting this interest have been unsettling.
“This latest news confirms that the Governor may indeed be interested in immersing himself in the murky waters of politics like any other Nigerian with partisan interests. It is incontrovertible that Mr Emefiele enjoys a constitutionally protected right to belong to any group or association and participate fully, just as any Nigerian.
“It is, however, difficult to imagine that a person who occupies the exalted and sensitive office of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria will be this brazen in actualizing his ambition.
“There is no gain asserting the obvious. The combined effect of the Public Service Rules, CBN Act and the 1999 Constitution, as amended, exposes not only the oddity inherent in this brash exercise of presumed right to associate.
“It also confirms the illegality of the act should he proceed to submit the forms while occupying the seat as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Consequently, we admonish Mr Emefiele to leave the office, immediately, for him to pursue his interest. He cannot combine partisan politics with the very delicate assignment of his office. Should he refuse to quit, it becomes incumbent on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to remove him forthwith. “This is a joke taken too far.”
In his reaction, Ebun Oluwa Adegboruwa, a senior advocate of Nigeria, said: “I believe that the case of the CBN governor highlights the nature of governance that we have in Nigeria, which is everybody to yourself and no one for all. Things have fallen apart. It is the height of impunity and scandalous of the All Progressives Congress government for allowing him to bastardise his office,”
The senior lawyer who demanded the governor’s immediate sack, noted that the declaration makes a mockery of the country’s democratic experience.
“It is a mockery of our democratic experience and an abuse of decency. It is recklessness. I believe lawyers and lovers of peace should call for his removal or sacking,” he said.
“By purchasing the form, he lost the moral authority to function as governor of CBN. He should leave to join his colleagues in politics. He should not rubbish the office.
“The Nigerian Bar Association and civil society organisations should demand that all the money paid to him by the CBN should be refunded.”
The lawyer also alleged that Emefiele’s attention had been in politics, saying that may be responsible for the country’s poor economic growth.
“He never deserved that office. His eyes have been in politics. This explains why the naira and the economy are falling. His mind has always been in politics. He has always been distracted.” He said.
Oby Ezekwesili, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, alleged that the Emefiele, handed over the apex bank’s control to the President Muhammadu Buhari since the latter assumed office.
She also alleged that the “ill-advised monetary policies” of the bank in the last seven years were “political”.
Ezekwesili’s allegations followed the reports that Emefiele picked the All Progressives Congress N100m presidential nomination and expression of interest form. He reportedly picked up the form on Friday in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The former minister in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle on Friday said the wrong monetary policies since Buhari assumed office in 2015 were testament that the bank had handed over its independence to the President.
She alleged that the hidden politics behind the wrong monetary policies and alleged control of the CBN by Buhari led to Emefiele’s open partisan politics.
She wrote, “If you did not know all along that Nigeria’s serial wrong and ill-advised Monetary Policies of the last 7 years were political because the @cenbank long handed its independence to the Villa @NGRPresident @MBuhari , at least now you know. They’ve outed themselves. Finally.”
Ezekwesili, however, asked the CBN governor to resign from his position and pursue his “ill-fated political career”.
She tweeted, “The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria @cenbank must now immediately tender his resignation to stop further destroying whatever little remains of the country’s monetary policy reputation. Mr Emefele should leave immediately- tonight- to pursue his ill-fated political career,” She said.
“The audacity of Emefiele, a serving CBN governor to obtain the presidential form of the APC shows there’s no one in charge of Nigeria at the moment. Buhari is just existing in Aso Rock with no clues as to what is going on under his nose. This brazen impunity scares me,” fumed social critic Henry Shield Nwazuluahu, @henryshield.
Moris Monye, a popular social media commentator, in a rather sarcastic tweet, summed up all that is wrong with a man who controls the country’s vault taking part in an election.
“If Emefiele does not win the APC primaries with the vast power at his possession then he doesn’t know the ball,” Monye wrote.
“He can freeze opponents’ accounts, deny some people bullion vans, credit delegates any amount in their account, and bring raw, cold dollars in cash if they want. Limitless power.”
For Chidi Odinkalu, another human rights lawyer, the CBN governor’s move has to be some sort of a joke taken too far.
“Mr. Emefiele & his #Meffy2023 gang believe that they can get installed as Nigerian president by riding #CartsAndHorses through the Central Bank,” Odinkalu wrote, via @ChidiOdinkalu.
“He’ll 1st have to turn over #TheMint to a judge in his back pocket who will rule that party politicking is a “charitable cause.”‘
For another popular Twitter commentator, NEFERTITI, @firstladyship, the governor’s move has to be some sort of madness.
“CBN governor destroyed the naira & institutionalized arbitrage in the forex market. He restricted fintechs & blocked bank accounts of peaceful EndSARS protesters,” she said.
“So where did Godwin Emefiele get the N100m for his APC presidential form? Any limit to this N100m declaration madness?”
Financial expert, Kalu Aja, @FinPlanKaluAja1, is obviously lost for words.
“I have to collect my thoughts,” he wrote.
”We are going to talk about this on Spaces, and I will write an article on this. This is unbelievable, I honestly am in shock.
“I fear for the naira (it will fall). All those “loans” given to farmers are all gone.”