Mr. President, truly, it is emefiele’s turn –Banire SAN

By Dr. Muiz Banire SAN

Last week, I treated the issue of the cost of governance in Nigeria as it further drowns the resources of the country, specifically drawing the attention of the President on the need to urgently tame this monster.

In the discourse, I emphasized the urgent need for the President to implement the Oronsaye Report, which is over a decade old, gathering dust somewhere in the government’s cabinet. This is more than ever before compelling in the light of the financial stupor that the country is in.

In addition, if not urgently implemented by way of the rationalization of the duplicated agencies and the irrelevant ones, sooner, political pressure will be mounted on the President to populate them with political jobbers. There is no doubt in my mind that the economy and resources of the country cannot further absorb these financial excesses.

This is one major area in which the country is further haemorrhaging. At the last count, the continuous existence of these multiple immaterial agencies and parastatals is costing the country not less than N400 billion and the failure to arrest the drift will continue to aggravate the already bad situation.

In the said Oronsaye Report, it was reported that about 400, out of the nearly 600 federal government parastatals and agencies, are needless and wasteful, particularly due to multiplicity of functions. The review and rationalization of the agencies and parastatals, however, is a matter of concern on the one hand, while profligacy in all other forms in governance, as demonstrated in the said edition on the other hand, needs to be curtailed in order to give a fresh breath to the economy.

As a follow-up to the above intervention, I had intended this week in the column to commence the analysis of the import of the actual report but for the emerging development around the office and person of the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor.

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Just as I was preparing for that engagement, the news of the suspension of the embattled Central Bank governor broke out; and in recent times, I have not seen an inflammable news as this that tended to engulf the entire social media space.

The atmosphere appeared to be one that is much expected and long awaited, as flurry of comments flooded the media. All my attempts to catch up with the various interventions, particularly in the social media failed as it became intractable.

There is no other way to sum up the mood of the country on the development other than that of national celebration. “Why would?” and “should this be?” seem to be the questions in most quarters.

Prior to the suspension, fewer voices were often heard on the iniquities and nefarious activities of the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). That the man, Godwin Emefiele, succeeded in plunging the country’s economy into a doldrum is certainly no news to most Nigerians.

Since his appointment in 2015 and assumption of office, the narrative has been one story of woe or another. The Economy had known no peace. The economy continued to snowball. Unemployment rate moved from 8.2% in 2015 to 37.7 % in 2022; the inflation rate moved from 9 percent in 2015 and consistently rose to 22.2 percent in April 2023.

The Anchor borrower’s scheme initiated and midwifed by the man progressed the price of a 50 kg bag of rice from 8,500 in 2015 to 35,000 in 2023, reflective of the impact of his policy on food security of the country.

The country’s currency which exchanged for N197.00 in 2015 rose to N760.00 in 2023. Obviously, this has multiplier effects on all other goods and services. The debt profile of the country rose from N12.200 trillion in 2015 to N46.25 trillion in 2023. So, while the country is wobbling at home, it is fumbling internationally. The multidimensional poverty index survey reveals that 63 percent of Nigerians resident in the country, that is, 133 million Nigerians, are multidimensionally poor.

Muiz Banire SAN

In life, everything is turn-by-turn, good or bad. That is the story of Godwin Emefiele, the embattled and suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. There was a time that his story was ‘emilokan’, during the compulsory exit of the former Governor of the Central Bank, Emir Sanusi.

Today, he cannot and must not shy away from the reality that it is his turn to account, ‘ohun lokan’. There is always a day of accountability, both on this earth and in the hereafter. Now it is Emefiele’s time to account. The President must allow him to render account in all ramifications. My interest in the case of Emefiele stemmed from my conviction from the onset that Godwin Emefiele is incompetent to hold that office.

Combing through his curriculum vitae then convinced me that he was a wrong man for the job. A real square peg in a round hole. Certainly, he is not an economist nor a financial expert. The only inference I could draw from the curriculum vitae is that he was, at best, a marketer.

The miracle he would then be performing became a puzzle to me. Eventually justifying my fears, he ended up throughout his tenure experimenting with our fragile economy and collapsing same. Due to the constraint of space, I am unable here to capture the various policies summersault under his tenure, suffice to therefore refer you to my earlier edition on the subject

At the end of the road, as the navigator will put it, the country ended up in financial prostration.

The consequences of the experimentation in the lives of Nigerians are better imagined than experienced, as not only were several lives lost, several Nigerians became infirm; some Nigerians became humiliated and embarrassed in the course of executing his poorly thought-out policies. With time, the poverty index of the country went haywire while inflation in the country became unprecedented. His reign was simply a catalogue of woes.

It is to this end that I align myself with the description Femi Fani-Kayode, in his instantaneous response to the suspension, made, when he opined that Emefiele, as Central Bank Governor, inflicted the following misfortunes on Nigerians: “ ….. caused mothers and fathers to regret having their children……. caused Nigerians to strip themselves naked in public places and rant, rave and lament about their suffering and hardship…… caused men and women to burn down banks and public buildings and ….. caused Nigerians to lose their life savings, beg for bread and walk the street penniless with no more than 200 naira in their pockets and to their names….. shattered many dreams, broke many hearts and caused many to perish and die before their time”.

The suspended Governor of the Central Bank has so many questions to answer beyond the naira redesign which was the latest of his misadventure among which are Anchor borrower’s ‘scam’ , according to the Guardian online, lost about N500 billion in the cause of the execution of the scheme as it was a case of share and share alike, the COVID-19 intervention funds and the attendant manipulations, the assumption of multifarious tasks in parallel to ministries and parastatals by the Emefiele-led CBN during his tenure.

During his misgovernance of the apex bank, Emefiele fraudulently assumed the role of the parallel president in running his own ministries within the Central Bank of Nigeria.

There is hardly any ministry whose statutory function was not hijacked by this ‘superman’ under the guise of intervention. It was so bad that he was involved at a point in direct procurement of arms. The failure to deliver the Zonal Teaching Hospitals promised during the pandemic was not unconnected with his greed.

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That the Central Bank of Nigeria was an effective tool of fraud during his tenure is an understatement. Is it the multiple window forex allocation or the faceless beneficiaries of various schemes initiated by him?

At a point in his sojourn at the central bank and due to the undue influence wielded by him as a result of the office, not only was his arrogant nature unveiled but the greed in him drove him to want to pocket all financial agencies and parastatals of government.

This came after terrorizing and cowling the money deposit banks into submission. Just few days ago, I listened to a video report of the extant Chairman of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Dr. Abdul Hakeem Abdul Lateef exposing further the rapacious nature of Emefiele through the compromise of the National Assembly to amass and appropriate to the apex Bank the absolute powers to control all the government financial institutions in the country.

What was exposed in the video, I strongly suspect, was what took place in case of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) where I served for nine months as opposed to the statutory tenure of five years i was entitled to serve.

As at the time the AMCON Board was considering the reforms to the AMCON Act, we suddenly heard the passage of an amendment not passed by the Board to make the office of the Chairman of AMCON an exclusive preserve of a Deputy Governor of Central Bank under Emefiele’s control.

Although, I knew, as a lawyer and a victim of his indiscretion, to say the least, that the law could not be made retrospective, I decided to excuse the rubbish as I had my own source of livelihood and was not interested in any agitation for any public office, which in itself is a stigma.

This is the way Emefiele hijacked the Board of AMCON. As if that was insufficient, he ‘acquired’ also the NDIC, by forcing through the appointment of one of his Directors in the CBN as the Managing Director. Similar experiences abound in other financial institutions.

Nemesis is now catching up with the then ‘Emperor’ in town. The probe of this ‘smart man’ is not only critical to the restoration of confidence in the CBN but as a means of sending a message to potential public officials of his ilk.

In addition, it is instructive that the apex Bank needs to be insulated against political manipulations.

Mr. President, you are on the right track on this but there are more to go. Interestingly, this is one instance that Nigerians, except the beneficiaries of the largesse, are unanimous on the way to treat the man that has put the nation in a precarious situation.

The consensus appears to be the same from the beer parlour to the salon, markets, offices, restaurants etc. that impacted Nigerians must have their pounds of flesh. In fact, most Nigerians do not even see the need for any trial before meting out the deserved punishment to him.

But for the fact that I am a lawyer, I would have equally joined the frail. In rounding off, Nigerians believe that the President need to extend his probe to other ‘loud’ ministries and parastatals such as the Aviation Ministry where a lot of cankerworms is unfolding.

So many mysteries and scandals surrounded the actions of the ministry during the last administration and we need to unravel them. Mr. President, as rightly remarked by the First Lady, your family requires no material thing in life again that could be a source of any compromise or impediment to doing the right thing.

To this extent, this administration must be decisive on issues of corruption plaguing the country, and in doing so, we dare counsel that Mr. President should beware of his close associates that have tendencies of compromising this ideal. May I further counsel that Mr. President gives priority to competence over and above other primordial and political considerations in his appointments.

This is the only way to progress the country. In conclusion, while Emefiele must have his day not only in the law court, but in the public court, I consider his tenure as a waste of space and time. It his own time of reckoning.

One thought on “Mr. President, truly, it is emefiele’s turn –Banire SAN

  1. The solid wasted eight years of the immediate past Federal Administration of the APC, was a case of the birds of the same feathers flocking together.
    Most players in that administration acted on inferiority complexes, as most of the offices they held were far above their capabilities.
    Any surprise that most Nigerians experienced the ugliest shocks in all aspects of our human endeavors?
    The beauty of time is its referral reversal posture.

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