The confirmation and reappointment of the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele has generated controversy. Joshua Egbodo takes a look at the issues.
In the House of Representatives, the reappointment of the apex bank’s governor by President Muhammadu Buhari is still reverberating, days after a member Hon Gudaji Kazaure fired the salvo, demanding the immediate reversal of the pronouncement giving Mr Emefiele a second tenure in office.
The lawmaker claimed the position he was pushing was one arrived at after “our meetings”, referring to a coalition of pro-Buhari groups, including campaign organisations in the 2019 general elections. “We, members of the Buhari die-hard group, are surprised at the reappointment because a lot of things happened under him (Emefiele). We are. Therefore, asking the president to reverse the appointment, and bring in somebody with integrity”, he stated.
According to him, somebody like Alhaji Suleiman Barau, a man he said, has integrity as a better option for headship of the apex bank, arguing that a lot of corruption cases against certain appointees of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which were still being investigated by anti-graft agencies happened under his watch, and that such funds were released through the CBN.
He, however, blamed the reappointment of Emefiele on possible misleading advice by “people close to the president, who did not tell him the real truth” about the rot in the CBN under the current governor.
He said Emefiele met the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar at 180, but regrettably that it is now hovering around N360. “What reforms has he brought in four years?”, he queried, adding that with such appointments, “instead of going to the next level, we will be going to the back level. We need fresh people with good ideas. It is surprising to us, for a man of integrity (Buhari) to do that kind of appointment, and he is fighting corruption”.
However, the lawmaker did not agree with a suggestion that the president may not be in control of his government. “I can die to protect his integrity. He is not an angel, he is not a messenger of Allah, he is human, and so he can make mistakes”, he submitted.
Kazaure insisted that someone who the president may have trusted very well may have misled him into reappointing the apex bank’s governor. He, however, did not agree that such person may be one member of the so-called ‘cabal’ within Buhari’s government. “I don’t know if it is the cabal, but the president was not told the truth about the situation on ground”, he said.
And who is Suleiman Barau?
Barau has been reported to be a public servant with close to two decades of cognate experience in the system, beginning his career with the Nigerian Mining Corporation as a civil servant in 1981. Besides, his experience also in the private sector, he held the position of deputy governor, Corporate Services at the CBN from December 13, 2007 to sometimes in 2018.
Senate confirmed Emefiele
In what may be considered as belated advice by the supposed Buhari supporters, put forward by Kazaure, the senate, in about 24 hours after his public expression opposing the reappointment of Emefiele, screened and confirmed the governor for a second term. The Senate’s Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions last Wednesday grilled Emefiele on major economic issues currently facing Nigeria, following the mandate given the panel by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the day earlier.
The CBN governor assumed duty as head of the apex bank on June 2, 2014, which makes his five-year first tenure due for expiration on the same date this June. President Buhari, however, announced that he has extended the tenure of Mr Emefiele for a second term, and subsequently wrote the senate requesting for the confirmation.
The committee recommended that “The nominee (Mr Emefiele understands the diverse economy of the country and has displayed profound knowledge of the continuous existence of our economic stability”, and “That the nominee has performed credibly in his first tenure which resulted to the exit of the nation out of economic recession.” His nomination was thus confirmed.
Kazaure disowned by APC caucus
Same day that the senate confirmed Mr Emefiele for a second term as the CBN governor, the caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House of Representatives distanced itself from the call by Hon Kazaure, a known member of the caucus. Explaining the new position, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin, who led a few members of the caucus to a media briefing, said it has been generally agreed that Kazaure was only expressing his personal opinion, which was not in tune with the position of the group.
Jibrin, who is currently the director general of the campaign organistaion for the speakership bid of majority leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, also disclosed that his principal has been briefed, and was in approval of their mission to dissociate the caucus from Kauzaure’s position.
Jibrin described Kauzaure’s opinion as personal to him, adding that the reappointment was a well deserved one, based on a lot so far achieved by Emefiele.
“We wish to dissociate ourselves from that his statement. We stand with the president on the reappointment, because of the good works the CBN governor has done. He deserved the reappointment”, Jibrin said. He also commended the senate for the speedy confirmation of Emefiele’s reappointment, describing the action as proof of the man’s competence. “By that confirmation alone, it shows he has done well”, he added.
The lawmaker argued that several economic indices, including a stable exchange rate, huge profits being declared by banks, and improvement of agricultural fortunes of the country were pointers that reforms of the CBN under Emefiele were productive.
“We stand by the president, we support that appointment and we are pretty sure that because of the good works Emefiele has done in the last four years, he deserves reappointment. We also commend the senate for confirming the CBN governor, this shows that the decision of president is the right one,” he said.
According to him, by all the indices that can be used to the rate the performance of a CBN governor, Emefiele has done credibly well. “The diversification of our economy through agriculture, the massive rice production, empowering local farmers, for the first time in so many years, we see massive profit being declared by farmers,” he said.
It is, however, not clear to many analysts whether the caucus’ position was all politics, more so as its leaders expectedly must stand by the ruling party and help to push its policies through, and ensure a strong role in the actualisation of the party’s endorsed candidate. Gbajabiamila is also the widely believed to be the blessed candidate of the party, for speakership of the ninth House.
Though no punitive measures were mentioned during the submission of the APC’s position, but it is being speculated that such measures cannot wholly dismissed, especially if Kazaure continue to push his campaign, even as events have seemingly overtaken his moves.