Godwin Emefiele reportedly egged on to run for Presidency by friends
Nigeria’s central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele is not new to absurdity. The first sign of it was probably when Nigerians saw him praying alongside President Muhammadu Buhari in a mosque in Abuja shortly before the historic renewal of his tenure for another five-year term as the central bank Governor.
Those who chucked it up to religious tolerance, got another strong clue to his inclination to absurdity when on September 2021, the governor suspended Aboki FX’s operations, a foreign exchange news service, accusing them of “illegal activity that undermines the economy”. This laughable move in the face of the apex bank’s FX policies has only yielded disastrous consequences for the Naira.
Then, all who still had any iota of doubts about this inclination to absurdity had them cleared when the rumour filtered in that he is making a bid for Nigeria’s Presidency.
According to some reports from a section of the media, Godwin Emefiele had allocated N500 billion for his presidential ambition. He has also allegedly procured three private jets for the purpose of his campaign. All these, while still running the affairs of the central bank.
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Emefiele has yet to categorically distance himself from these rumours. At first, his media aide issued a feeble statement that his focus was on the economy, rather than gunning for Nigeria’s top office. This rather mixed-signal did not stop his so-called Friends of Emefiele from splurging hundreds of millions of naira on newspaper ads, trying to sell his candidacy.
While all these media campaigns were going on, Emefiele tried to parry the question of his presidential ambition again when he told reporters on Monday last week that his focus was on tackling inflation, and not on the rumoured presidential bid.
That same day, his PR consultants circulated a news story about a certain Harvard Economist proclaiming Emefiele to be a serious contender in the 2023 presidential poll. That leaves one wondering if Emefiele believes Nigerians to be fooled. Or is he surrounded by foolish friends?
As you read this, several campaign vehicles branded in Emefiele’s campaign posters are ready for deployment. The images flooded the media over the weekend.
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To be clear, Godwin Emefiele has a right to seek the highest office in the land. The constitution guarantees him this right as a citizen. However, one wonders how exactly he plans to become the President of Nigeria without being a member of a political party.
One also wonders if loyalty to a government in power because of his appointment automatically confers him a membership status of the ruling party, as well as the right to seek office on that party’s platform. Perhaps, Emefiele knows a thing or two about the political transition of 2023 that most Nigerians do not yet realise.
Nevertheless, even if Emefiele resigns his position today and joins the race, has his performance as the Central Bank Governor over the past seven years provided the needed credential and therefore, the conviction that he is capable of running the affairs of Nigeria at this desperate time.
Central banks across the world fight to achieve two things – drive down inflation and boost jobs – leveraging monetary policy tools. The jury is out on how Emefiele has fared on these scores.
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Let us take a trip down memory lane to 2014 when Emefiele assumed office as Nigeria’s central bank chief. The inflation rate was at 8.05%. Today, the apex bank is battling to reign it in at 15.6%. Its so-called strategic target of a single-digit inflation rate has failed miserably.
Emefiele’s CBN inherited an economy with a jobless rate of 4.56% in 2014. Today, no thanks to the atrocious policies of the Buhari government and ineffectual monetary policies, the unemployment rate is at a historical and outrageous 35%.
One would not forget that under Godwin Emefiele, development finance became a tool to prop up the government and cover for its countless inefficiencies, leading to historic spending on intervention programmes in the history of central bank-backed development financing in Nigeria. As of Q1, 2022, Godwin Emefiele’s CBN has disbursed a total of N4.7 trillion on nine different intervention programmes supposedly targeted at different sectors to stimulate economic growth.
The list of interventions included the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme which targeted smallholder farmers; the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme for large scale agricultural projects; the Real Sector Facility for manufacturing and services sectors; the 100 for 100 Policy on Production and Productivity; and the Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility, which was introduced to support the resilience of the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Others include the Targeted Credit Facility introduced to support households and businesses affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic; the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Payment Assurance Facility and the Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility – Phase 2 which were designed to improve access to capital and ease the development of enabling infrastructure in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry.
Through these interventions, the CBN substituted cash with desperately needed reforms needed to drive sustainable growth. Take the intervention programmes in the agriculture sector for instance, for the N795.6B invested so far in the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the CBN has no more than the rice and maize pyramids to show for it. Shortages of these staples have worsened leading to a significant astronomical increase in the prices of cereals in the market.
The jury is also still out on the success of the ABP programme, as reports had shown that implementation had been lopsided while the default rate on the single-digit facility is over 60%. However, the CBN and the government insisted it had been a huge success and that the pyramids are proof.
Many Nigerians have struggled to find any correlation between the intervention investments and economic growth as the economy has remained on life support, averaging a miserable 2.5% growth over the period for an economy that saw an annual growth rate of 6% prior to 2015 when Emefiele and the APC government assumed office.
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It is also on record that under Godwin Emefiele, Ways and Means saw unprecedented abuse. When in April 2021, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki raised the alarm that the Nigerian government printed N60 billion to augment the monthly federal revenue allocation, many began to get a glimpse of the level of abuse that had been going on. Of course, the government denied it, saying it was simply a loan to the states. Today, as of March 2022, that kind of “loan” from the CBN to the federal government has risen to N18.16 trillion, more than 40% of the money supply in the economy – another historical absurdity.
These leave one wondering what kind of President Godwin Emefiele would really be, assuming Nigerians really have no other choice. And one cannot also but wonder if the task of running the central bank has become so light that the Governor could afford the distraction of active politics.
DISCLAIMER: This article is solely the views and opinions of the author and does not in any way reflect the views and editorial position of Nigeria Today News.