By Our reporters
As Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) keeps mum on his next move after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja, 10 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), organised labour and former Director General of Finacial Institution Training Centre (FITC), Dr Oladimeji Alo, have advised the CBN boss to bow out, despite not declaring openly for presidency.
Reacting to the CBN’s Governor political ambition, in a piece titled “the Dark PARTISAN Cloud over the Central Bank of Nigeria”, Mr Muda Yusuf, Chief Executive at Centre for Private Enterprise, (CPPE) said
“The partisan disposition of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has cast a dark cloud over the credibility, independence, neutrality and professionalism of the Central Bank of Nigeria. It is a troubling development because of the huge reputational risk to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the wider implications for the Nigerian economy.
It portends ominous outlook for the credibility of monetary policy, foreign exchange policy, management of intervention funds and the impartial discharge of regulatory responsibilities of the apex bank. There are also profound implications for the confidence of investors, both foreign or local. The Central Bank is an institution that needs to earn the trust of all stakeholders in the economy, irrespective of their political affiliation, creed, gender, religion, ethnicity or vocation. It is difficult to earn this trust with the unfolding scenario of the obvious partisan stance of the CBN Governor. This development raises serious ethical and propriety issues, which are much bigger than the legal questions.
These are not the best times for the Nigerian economy. The distractions of dragging the apex bank into the chaotic space of partisan politics can only worsen an already bad situation. The economy is yet to recover from the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses and investors are still struggling to survive in the context of a fragile economic recovery. The onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine had inflicted yet another profound macroeconomic dislocations and supply chain disruptions on the global and domestic economies. It is a case of multiple devasting shocks on the economy and businesses.
It is bad enough that stakeholders in the economy are contending with the following predicaments, which are partly consequences of dysfunctional monetary and foreign exchange policies of the Central Bank: Record plunge of the naira exchange rate to about N590 to a Dollar. Unprecedented disparities between the official and parallel market exchange rates which has created grave distortions and dislocations in the economy. The disparity in rates has created a paradise for forex brokers and currency speculators. The business of forex roundtripping is also flourishing. There is a liquidity crisis in the forex market on a scale never witnessed in a recent history. Many players in the economy are faced with great difficulty in accessing foreign exchange to import their raw materials, equipment and meeting their foreign payment obligations to their partners. Some have suffered reputational damage as a results. Many foreign investors are not able to remit funds outside the country which has created serious country risk and perception problems for the Nigerian economy. This had also negatively impacted foreign capital inflows into the economy.
All of these have put the economy under severe strain, weakening growth outlook. We cannot afford to worsen the current economic situation with a Central Bank that is entangled in the controversy of political partisanship.
In the circumstances, the most respectable course of action for Central Bank Governor is to resign in order to preserve the integrity, credibility, independence, neutrality, and professionalism of the CBN. This is also imperative to ensure the trust and confidence of stakeholders in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Also speaking, President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Festus Osifo, said failure to resign, President, Muhammadu Buhari should terminate Emefiele’s appointment. “He should resign immediately, failure to do the needful the president should sack him forthwith,” he said.
The PENGASSAN President stated that it is not acceptable for CBN Governor to be in any political party, adding that the position of a CBN governor should be apolitical.
“He heads the institution that determines our monetary policy and indeed the custodian of our common wealth. It is not acceptable for him the CBN Governor to be in any political party,” he added. Osifo said it is quite an embarrassment and thus sickening to learn that he has been a member of the ruling party.
Maintaining that there’s need to set a good precedence, the labour leader opined that it is a total aberration for him to remain in office as he seeks to be Nigeria’s president.
Dr Oladimeji Alo , a former Director General/CEO of the Financial Institution Training Centre (FITC), said most opinions weigh against Emefiele still holding his position as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CIBN).
He said: “Although he has not come out openly to say he is contesting for president. And he said he did not buy the nomination form. But most opinions of the people I read in the last one week are against him; that he should resign. Although, I have not sat down to look at those laws quoted against his stay.”
Ten CSOs-BudgIT, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Centre for Women’s Health and Information (CEWHIN), Community Life Project (CLP), Dataphyte, EiE Nigeria, Kili Ceramics, Sesor Empowerment Foundation, The Electoral Hub, and the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC)-in a statement on Wednesday, said Emefiele’s interest in partisan politics goes contrary to the neutrality expected of the CBN on political matters.
“The CBN Act (2007) was written to protect the CBN from external political interference, not expecting that the interference could be internal at the highest level,” the statement reads.
“Mr Emefiele joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) in February 2021 and it is significant to note that neither his party members led by the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, thought this was contrary to the spirit and the letter of his terms of engagement as CBN Governor.
“It is also instructive that Mr President and the Presidency have not issued a statement on this unfolding drama.
“If there is any doubt about the implied and expected neutrality of the CBN, Nigerians should be reminded that the materials for our elections are kept in CBN offices across the country and the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (an agency of the CBN) prints some of our election materials.”
Victor Chiazor, Head of Research, FSL Securities, weighing on the development said: “Well I think if the President has sent a memo to the ministers who are vying for positions, I think there’s a deadline for that and it is just next Monday and so we should watch that space. If he doesn’t respond, then that is when we can start to raise eyebrows and call for his resignation. But till then let us wait till next week Monday.”
The Chairman, Apapa branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Onyebu, in his reaction, concurred with the CSOs that Emefiele should not even belong to a political party, “he’s not qualified to run for office based on the situation.”
Hear him: “This question of him resigning or not should not even come up at all. He should be familiar with the constitution. If Nigeria is really running a good system, people should know and do the right thing. There is already a conflict of interest, there should be no reason why somebody who is standing as the CBN governor should be considering politics at all while still in active service. He should have resigned long time ago at least a year before declaring interest. His position is a sensitive position and the CBN stores sensitive materials of which he is aware so he should not be talking about resigning now. He should have done that long before now. He should not even belong to a political party, he’s not qualified to run for office based on the situation.”
Recently, three support groups had purchased the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential nomination and expression of interest forms for him. The CBN boss had, however, denied being linked to the groups, saying he would purchase the form himself if he decides to contest. His interest — even though undecided at the time — had sparked criticism, with several persons calling for his resignation.
Emefiele later filed a case in Federal High Court in Abuja, asking for a ruling allowing him to contest the 2023 presidential election. But the court stayed action on Emefiele’s request to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from stopping him in the pursuit of his presidential bid.
The court had also summoned INEC and the AGF to appear before it to show cause why Emefiele’s request should not be granted.
CBN governor, agency heads, ambassadors… Buhari directs appointees seeking elective offices to resign
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered political appointees in his administration, who are seeking to contest in the 2023 elections, to tender their resignation.
The president gave the directive in a circular issued on Wednesday night by Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).
The president’s directive comes hours after an earlier one directing ministers to resign on or before May 16.
The latest directive, which is in line with the provisions of section 84(12) of the electoral act, expects all affected persons to resign from their offices on or before Monday.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is among those affected by the directive and perhaps the biggest casualty.
“Mr. President has observed and noted the expression of interest and intention by some members of the Federal Executive Council, heads of extra-ministerial departments, agencies, parastatals of government, ambassadors and other political office holders to contest the upcoming presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies’ elections,” the document reads.
“Consequently, Mr. President has directed that the affected office holders aspiring to run for various offices in the 2023 general election, should tender their resignation on or before Monday, the 16th of May, 2022.
“For the avoidance of doubt, this directive affects all ministers, heads and members of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals of government, ambassadors, as well as other political appointees who desire to contest for elective offices.
“For smooth running of the machinery of government and our foreign missions, affected ministers are to hand over to ministers of state where they exist or to the permanent secretary, where there is no minister of state.