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Emefiele: haunted by the disappearing naira - THE GUARDIAN

MARCH 18, 2023

THE Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele may have forgotten that everything in life is ephemeral. While the cashless policy he introduced caused many Nigerians so much hardship, his initial silence over the Supreme Court judgment pitched him against the suffering citizenry.

Even as the controversies rage, Emefiele should be concerned about what people would judge to be his legacy since he assumed office in 2014.

In other climes the CBN governor would have either been told to resign with immediate effect or be suspended over his defiance of the Supreme Court verdict on the controversial cash swap policy.

An eminent professor of law, Itse Sagay (SAN) even echoed that Emefiele should be jailed for contempt of the Supreme Court. He believes spending some time behind bars will make the CBN helmsman realise the enormity of the “merciless pain,” the naira crisis has subjected Nigerians to.

It is no longer news that the scarcity of the new naira notes brought about by the CBN policy has generated tension and visited untold hardship on the masses.With the catalogue of misgivings highlighted over the naira redesign policy, Nigerians are passing through hell due to the scarcity of the new naira notes and unavailability of the old notes. It has aggravated the cost of living of cash-strapped Nigerians.

Many wondered why Emefiele-led CBN failed to heed the verdict of the Supreme Court which ruled that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes should be allowed to co-circulate with the new ones until December 31, but the apex bank was quick to react when over a less-than-palatable newspaper report about the apex bank chief.

Excerpts of the statement which read “… the CBN governor does not take part in politics,” amused many because he had once not only dared the public condemnation of his partisanship, he also went to the High Court, Abuja to file a suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, alleging an attempt to disqualify him from the 2023 presidential poll over his rumoured ambition on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). But the court refused his prayers.

The consequences of Emefiele’s political aspirations still ring hard. He brought the CBN under huge reputational risk. No one would forget in a hurry how some groups obtained the N100m APC expression of interest and nomination forms on his behalf. Dozens of vehicles branded with Emefiele’s image were also procured.

Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State; Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State; and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, among others, had condemned the silence of the President and Emefiele on the Supreme Court judgment.

History can sometimes be cruel or good. It took the Emefiele-led CBN exactly 10 days after the Supreme Court judgement to officially order commercial banks to comply with the court verdict when he learnt some state governments were planning to initiate contempt proceedings against him.

One woul d recall a different kind of silence when he announced the naira policy in October, last year. The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed had told the National Assembly that she was not consulted.

Emefiele’s curious actions since the naira crisis exploded created animosity between the presidency and the camp of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The governors had openly challenged a critical policy of a Federal Government headed by their party.

Now that the scenes are unfolding, glaringly, the bizarre naira redesign policy appears to be validating those who have argued that it was a subtle move to scuttle the presidential ambition of the party’s candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Buhari clearly threw Emefiele under the bus when he denied instructing the CBN boss and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to defy the Supreme Court order on the naira redesign policy. His statement sounded like an end of romance with the CBN governor.

The president said the apex bank had no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives. To observers, the press statement explaining Buhari’s innocence about the disobedience to the Supreme Court judgment appears to be an attempt to absolve itself from the whole drama, and letting one’s self off the hook.

Now, the hunter has become the hunted. Some observers contend that Emefiele, who has been sabre-rattling, is about to be consumed by political intrigues. When the history of his time at the Central Bank would be told the whole naira fiasco which has greviously damaged the economy and devastated trust in the banking system would overshadow all. He would go down as a one-man wrecking ball.


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