By Agbo Owolafe
Nigeria is always blessed with amazing individuals as Governors of her Central Bank. Counting from when I could clearly see the signatures and properly read the names of CBN Governors on our Naira notes, I can say that the individuals that have assumed the responsibility of managing the country’s treasury are somewhat decent and professional.
Beyond professionalism, they are people-centred, with strong bias for developmental economics. Their policies and actions were geared towards nurturing socio-economic growth and empowering the citizens, even though the CBN does not interface with Nigerians directly.
Let us start from the recent past with Dr. Paul Agbai Ogwuma, who was the CBN Governor from 1993 to 1999. Chief (Dr.) Joseph Oladele Sanusi replaced him after his retirement in 1999 and left the saddle for Professor Chukwumma Charles Soludo in 2004. After him, came Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi in 2009 before this catastrophe of a governor befell Nigeria in 2014.
All the listed governors had evidential contributions to the Nigerian financial system and growth of the nation’s economy. If the eras of Dr. Ogwuma and Chief Sanusi were too distant in our memories for recollection, we cannot struggle so much to recall Soludo’s brilliant intervention in the Nigerian banking system, which consolidated the country’s 87 banks into 25 and boosted liquidity in the system.
The country’s slumbering economy experienced a reawakening as a result of that policy. Nigerian commercial banks that were fringe players, lacking capacity to match their South African counterparts, became big enough to fund big-ticket transactions in manufacturing, telecommunication, agriculture, service industry, trade, and oil and gas.
Under Soludo, the CBN was a major driver of socio-economic growth. The country witnessed and celebrated policy-induced multi-billion dollar foreign investments into the Nigerian banking sector. Without any doubt, his banking consolidation is the foundation of the solid and diversified financial system we have today.
As CBN Governor, Soludo was very methodical, focused and pragmatic. He demonstrated in an unambiguous manner, a very deep understanding of economic policies and principles. In fact, it was going to be easy to attribute his outstanding performance to his background as a scholar and economist, but the appointment of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as his successor at the CBN proved that brilliance is the reason for Soludo’s remarkable feats.
Unlike Soludo, Sanusi is neither a professor nor an academic, but a professional banker like the current CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele. However, Sanusi continued the string of excellence, professionalism and integrity at the CBN. He did not denigrate the office through conception and implementation of injudicious policies. As Governor, Sanusi occupied and ran the office with grace and brilliance. Although he lacked the reticence of the previous office holders, a trend that began with Soludo, but continued the tradition of virtuosity required for the office.
Sanusi prevented a financial sector meltdown that would have crippled the Nigerian economy like other major economies around the world. He demonstrated that he was a good successor to Soludo with the way and manner he quickly cleared the rot in the banking system.
As a result of his ingenuity, failed banks were fixed without depositors losing their money. He quickly set-up Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to acquire bridge banks and absorb toxic assets. Similarly, he strengthened aspects of our banking regulations through improved regulatory frameworks. I am not sure anyone has forgotten that Sanusi institutionalised tenure limits for Bank CEOs and abolished the universal banking system.
Although Sanusi was bold, showy and controversial, no one was able to fault the logic of his policies. He was clearly a pro-people Governor of the CBN. He spoke truth to power and earned enemies for his outspokenness. Sanusi battled the National Assembly with knowledge of job and extensive awareness of policies.
If not that we saw Sanusi, Emefiele’s tenure would have justified the reasoning that professional bankers should stop being CBN governors. May be the argument would now be that the appointments should be switched between practical economists (scholars) and professional bankers, one after the other, not in succession.
With Emefiele at the helms, CBN has become a political party. Not surprisingly though because he got the governorship of the CBN through his association with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). His associates paid millions of dollars to the cabal in Jonathan’s administration to displace better and more qualified candidates pencilled down for the position.
Those familiar with Emefiele’s career at Zenith Bank where his secondment to the CBN was procured would tell you that he was not a pragmatic leader. He ran the institution in the shadows of Jim Ovia, whose Sanusi’s house-cleaning policy forced to step aside from directly and publicly running the institution.
So, that he could not practically address economic issues or come up with intelligent policies is not a surprise. He is an individual who has significantly benefitted from his association with people, not by creating anything for himself. His calm mien portrays him as a gentleman, especially when one’s visual appraisal of him starts from his arid head, which brings to live a vivid imagery of a Baboon’s bum, but he is a very arrogant and devilishly ambitious individual.
See, I do not have problem with anyone being ambitious. But when you drive your ambition through sneaky paths, it becomes devilish. Before the APC presidential primaries, the whole of Abuja was besieged with Emefiele’s campaign posters. Is it not strange that a sitting CBN Governor had several buses to promote his interest in the presidency of Nigeria, and bold-facedly feigned blindness to the profligate undertakings?
Where is this man’s professionalism? Where is accountability in Nigeria? Should Emefiele not be explaining to Nigerians the meaning of the festival of irresponsibility that happened pre-APC presidential primaries? He breached his oath of office, and still continues to disrespect Nigerians!
Is Emefiele really serving Nigerians, himself, or some unknown interests in the country? The Naira redesign, and the changing reasons for the ill-timed policy is a pointer to his lack of interest in the unity of Nigeria and her progress. In the bid to curb corruption, as he claimed, he decided to throw Nigeria into economic chaos. Mr. Emefiele, did corruption start in Nigeria October 2022? Do you think with the Naira design and invalidation of people’s hard-earned currency, corruption will stop right away?
With your action, do you not see yourself as corruption on two legs? Even the company you keep, especially, your association with a trapezium-shaped influential media mogul, who is known for his anti-progressive activities, is suggestive of your ideals.
You opened the CBN vault for him to sing your praises, and de-odourise your putrid endeavours as the custodian of Nigeria’s vault. You thought that your alignments with him and other evil forces who are against the progress of Nigeria will scuttle our democracy.
Mr. Emefiele, indiscretion turned you into a clown, whose professional capacity is being questioned globally. Because of greed and imprudence, you violated your oath of office and lost your moral right. To avoid prosecution, you agreed to do the dirty job of disrupting our democratic process for the enemies of Nigeria.
The goal of the Naira design and limited exchange window is to trigger hardship in Nigeria and cause citizens to change the attitude or disposition to our democracy. Daily, we see how Nigerians suffer to get access their money in the Banks and buy Naira in Nigeria to live.
Under your watch as CBN governor, Emefiele, Naira failed to serve and work for Nigerians.
-Agbo Owolafe, a distraught Nigerian, writes from Ogbon Oluwo, Ogbomoso.