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(OPINION) Godwin Emefiele’s Dicey Situation

Godwin Udoh
Godwin Emefiele was appointed as the Governor of Nigeria’s apex ( Central) bank in 2014 by the then Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan. By the appointment, Emefiele became one of the ice breakers in the Nigerian economic sea. He served for a period of nine years until recently President Tinubu slammed him a suspension order.

There is no doubt that Emefiele as the Central Governor had all that it takes to be. He had sound educational background. He hold Masters degree in Finance and was conferred with the doctorate degree by the University Of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka. He had undergone capacity building trainings in some of the world-class universities such as Stanford University, Havard University and Wharton School of business. Among the foregoing qualifications he had good working experience in one of the leading key players in Nigeria’s banking sector.

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Despite his vast experience, Emefiele managed the affairs of the Central bank as a lone ranger.

He undermined the personality and office of the former Minister Of Finance Zainab Ahmed in the formulation and implementation of the Nigerian fiscal policy decisions without getting other stakeholders on his side. The height of it was the public acknowledgement by the former Minister of Finance that he was not aware of the plan to redesign the Naira Notes by the Central Bank Of Nigeria. This elicited stern public criticisms and was viewed by some as an arbitrary and callous sidelining of the finance Ministry that ought to lead the mooring of Nigeria’s financial ship.

The shabby Emefiele’s policy and implementation of exchanging old notes with the few printed new notes succeeded in putting Nigerians under untold hardship and the aftermath was a grounded economy. It was indeed a very difficult time that made it extremely hard for Nigerians to access their own money in the banks. Unscrupulous and unpatriotic elements were selling Naira at a high profit rate to Nigerians.

Point Of Sale (POS) Operators cashed in on the opportunity and were giving money at a hyper commission rate to customers. Automated Teller Machines (ATM) ran dry. In some urban areas a cross the country, some banks were torched by angry customers while some were vandalized. Infact, Emefiele’s Central Bank policy caused terrible hardship to Nigerians. It is an understatement to say that the CBN actions were in congruent with the usual Nigerian government agencies insensitivity to the plight of the common man. Emefiele did not give a hue to improving Nigeria’s economy at the time it was really needed.

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Despite the general outcry concerning the difficulty of accessing the new Notes the CBN under the grip of Emefiele gave deaf ears to the yelling of Nigerians. Court orders given for the extension of time regarding phasing out the old Notes was totally ignored.

Nevertheless, phasing out old currency notes was not a bad fiscal policy because it would have helped to mop up the too much money in circulation and helped to reduce the hyper inflation rate Nigeria is facing presently but the time given was short.

The Suspension of Emefiele by the President, Bola Tinubu have now paved the way for the Directorate of State Services (DSS) to interrogate him in suspected terrorism financing, economic crime that threatened National Security and management of NISRAL (A Micro Finance of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Anchor Borrowers Programme.
Whatever the resolution of the issues at stake may be, so far, Emefiele’s saga has further shown that no individual or group of individuals can be higher than the State .