I have seen in the mainstream media and floating around on social media including Whatsapp, a report purported to be that of the CBN Special Investigator appointed by President Tinubu. I have some comments on this development. The “report” has no signature appended, so we can’t assume it is the real and official report. Assuming it is in fact the real report, it’s wrong for such a sensitive report to have “leaked” to the public before the President and his government have reviewed and spoken to it. This is because the “report” talks of “chargeable offences” and mentions specific individuals it recommends to be prosecuted in addition to Emefiele. This is a media trial and prejudices the rights of these individuals named or referred to. This is NOT how a report into the Central Bank of Nigeria should be handled. The central bank of any country is a very sensitive institution and confidence (or the lack of it) in the institution has practical consequences on the ground for Nigeria’s economy.
As much as the Bank and its leaders ought to be accountable for their official actions, we must consider the continuing damage this kind of sensationalism (which, knowing our country, nothing much is likely to come of it at the end of the day) does to Nigeria’s economy, image, and the institution of the CBN itself. When it comes to law, allegations are simply allegations unless and until proven in a court of law. The foregoing notwithstanding, my views on Emefiele’s PERFORMANCE as CBN Governor have been a matter of record even when many now opining on the matter of his performance on the job were mute. He is without debate the WORST and MOST damaging central bank governor in Nigeria’s history- incompetent and ill-prepared for the role, and from all available information from his actions, doubtlessly severely integrity-challenged. Four things make this clear: a) his performance regarding the STABILITY of the Naira exchange rate, as well as inflation; b) the brazen illegal provisions of Ways & Means lending to ; c) Emefiele’s illegal attempt to run for President, in clear contravention of Section 9 of the CBN Act of 2007 which precludes the Governor and Deputy Governors from engaging in activities outside their functions; and d) the incompetent manner in which the Naira Redesign Policy was handled, and its consequent negative, indeed disastrous impact on Nigeria’s economy.
While the law should certainly take its course, it is worth noting that an exclusive focus on the CBN as a “fight against corruption” may come to seem more as vendetta than anything else IF other sensitive entities such as the NNPC, Nigeria’s national oil company, are not subjected to a similarly vigorous searchlight. Corruption has robbed Nigerian of its destiny and impoverished our citizens while enriching at insane levels a select few. Combating it has to be a holistic affair, not just politically convenient media trials. Emefiele’s fame & infamy today certainly calls into question the self-serving attitude of our elected political leaders to sensitive appointments like that of CBN Governor as opposed to a focus on the national interest. Who appointed Emefiele as CBN Governor in 2014 and why? Who re-appointed him in 2019 (despite his obvious -even then – weak performance) and backed. This malfeasance cloaked as “policy”? We like theatre in Nigeria, but the thing about entertainment is that it tends to be chimeric, vanishing from view (and even memory sometimes) a little while after we are “in the moment”. Nigeria’s political leadership culture and governance need a complete overhaul. The current approach to the matter to Emefiele, who undoubtedly deserves his trial, is not quite the optimal path when placed under close scrutiny.