…Tasks Tinubu on way forward
The Founder and Convener of Apostolic Round Table (ART), a Non-Governmental Organisation in the vanguard of advocacy for good governance, Dr Bolaji Akinyemi, has reminisced on the glorious days of the CBN under the leadership of erudite, credible and result oriented governors. He has also examined the maladministration and challenges faced by the institution under the immediate past governor, Godwin Emefiele, which culminated in his suspension by President Bola Tinubu and appointment of …as his successor.
He pointed out that Emefiele did not fail unilaterally but the structure itself also accounts for the failure.
Akinyemi who also doubles as the Chairman of Board of Trustees and National Coordinator of Project Victory Call aka PVC-Naija, an NGO that charts a new course for new Nigeria, tasked President Tinubu on the way forward for reformation of the apex bank.
Records, Akinyemi noted, had shown that from inception, the nation’s finance conglomerate had enjoyed some robust, credible and responsible track records governance and administration under quality leadership of renowned think tank, technocrats, erudite professionals as governors who demonstrated tenacity, doggedness, transparency, professionalism that brought it to the limelight that it enjoys till today.
He went down memory lane and mentioned the legends whose names still rings bell in the Guinness Book of Record in which their meritorious services brought them, having left their footprints in the sand of time in the country’s finance house giant.
Akinyemi said they were predecessors of the immediate past governor, Godwin Emefiele, who excelled in their own class, but when it came to his turn, he ran the bank into murky waters during his eight-year tenure in the saddle as the governor,” Akinyemi said.
“If Emefiele had toed their clean and exemplary paths, he, too, would have been able to leave the bank better than the noble entity (CBN) that he inherited from the commendable pacesetters,” Bolaji said.
Akinyemi, who made reference to Nairametrics’ insightful exploration of the past Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governors, noted that they had played instrumental roles in shaping the nation’s monetary policies and financial landscape with remarkable results.
The legendry governors he highlighted include: The late Mallam Aliyu Mai Bornu who became the governor from July 25, 1963 till June 22, 1967.
The late Dr. Clement Isong. He served from August 15,1967 till September 22, 1975.
The late Mallam Adamu Ciroma served from September 24, 1975 till June, 28, 1977.
The late Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed was governor from June 28 1982 tiil September 30,1993.
Abdulkadir Ahmed is notable for being the longest-serving governor.
He served from October 1, 1993 till May 29, 1999.
Ola Vincent became the governor on June 28, 1977 till 1982.
Akinyemi recalled nostalgically that in the years of Vincent when he started secondary school in 1979, he became more conscious of the Nigerian currency when the Naira stood at just a little over 60 Kobo to a dollar.
“Then it was not just the pride of the business community, but even students celebrated the purchasing power of one naira,” he said
“But the fourth Republic came with the challenge of a battered economy and a CBN that must be above board if the giant in the sun must rise again,” Akinyemi stressed.
He went further to mention other governors who performed creditably.
Chief (Dr.) J. O. Sanusi who kicked the dead horse of our economy back to life when he was governor from May 29, 1999 May 29, 2004.
Prof. Chukwuma Soludo served from May 29, 2004 till May 29, 2009 and excelled.
Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was governor from June 3, 2009 till June 2, 2014 and excelled in the field of risk management, implementation of comprehensive reforms to address issues of poor corporate governance, fraud management, weak regulation supervision and enforcement.
While juxtaposing their performances with Emefiele’s, Akinyemi said the latter would have earned himself a good reputation if he had treaded the noble paths of the legends in the CBN as governors.”
He recalled that Emefiele came to the CBN on June 4, 2014, after he was appointed by President Good luck Jonathan and later reappointed by Buhari in 2019. He later became the first politician to emerge as the governor of the bank.
“This was obvious during the last general election when he purchased APC form to slug it out with other aspirants in the party among whom was Bola Ahmed Tinubu, our new president. His interest in politics is enough reason for him to have been excused, but the immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari, allowed him to continue his havoc until President Tinubu showed him the exit door recently, after nine solid years of holding down the economy.”
While emphasising Emefiele’s strides in the CBN, Akinyemi went on: “He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in Nigeria’s economic and financial sector.”
“As the CBN governor, typical of a politician, he was driven towards conquest of power. He oversaw a largely controversial Central Bank, implementing various policies and initiatives to stabilize the Nigerian currency, boost foreign exchange reserves, support economic growth, enhance financial inclusion, promote agricultural development and reduce inflation.”
“He also introduced a multiple exchange rate regime to manage the demand and supply of foreign currency in the country.
“During his time, the exchange rate disparity between the black market and the official market was as high as N300. Inflation also rose to 22.22%. May Emefiele never happen to Nigeria again!”
Akinyemi, however, absolved Emefele of total blame, insisting that he did not fail unilaterally, but the institution also failed him.
“If Emefiele was fatal in failure it was because Buhari enabled him. Emefiele did not fail alone as CBN governor, the institution failed him and failed us.
“Isolating Emefiele for prosecution or persecution as the enemies of Nigerians will make no difference if we are not prepared to look beyond Emefiele.
While pointing out that Emefiele’s removal did not obliterate corruption, Akinyemi quoted the board Chairman of NDIC, Abdulhakeem Abdulateef’s lamentation: “There is corruption, there is corruption, let’s cry! Let us cry for Nigeria!”
“Indeed, there is corruption and his name is not Emefiele. Removing Emefiele isn’t removing corruption. In any case, he must answer for his alleged financial crimes to serve as a deterrent to others,” he added.
Akinyemi, however, suggested some ways forward on how to ensure some reformation in the CBN.
He called for institution check of the apex bank, insisting that the bill assented to by Buhari which gave so much power to CBN and its governor must be revisited by the 10th National Assembly.
He also pointed out that the right of the Ministry of Finance to supervise the CBN must be reinstated.
He added that representation of regions must also be reactivated at the NDIC, insisting that NDIC must be removed from the pocket of CBN to earn trust of depositors and guarantee insurance of funds, because a CBN allowed to do as it wishes could only produce another Emefiele.
“It is more about replacing the whole board of directors who are all culpable, including all the 23 departmental directors who kept quiet, while Emefiele was running riot of all morals and integrity,” Akinyemi said.
He added: “Axing Emefiele alone and leaving 34 other people who kept quiet while he was behaving like an emperor is nothing but injustice. The President must not just be interested in a new governor but a new CBN.
Akinyemi also called on President Bola Tinubu to put his broom to work through the new CBN governor to be appointed as he did at the Ministry of Defence.
“President Tinubu should make good his promise to start where Buhari stopped by investigating and probing all that transpired under Buhari to know where to really start from. There are 34 officers of the CBN which should by now be sitting in the investigating room of EFCC. This again emphasizes the need for an efficient EFCC, which we can only attain if the president puts a round peg in the round hole in the EFCC.
“The CBN, like EFCC, should be made to work in the best interest of Nigeria.
“Without kotowing to partisan spirit or tribe and religion, people of impeccable integrity with sincerity of purpose and proven leadership skills that are required to fill these important gaps do not have to know the president to be appointed.
“CBN must witness restructuring and not dismemberment as being proposed by the current administration. What is needed at CBN is not their men out and our people in, but a holistic approach to get the bank up and running,” Akinyemi stressed.
“A muted financial system where people see things but say nothing is catastrophic! That was our experience with the Emefiele-led CBN which must now become an institution that discovered its voice by enabling all its people to discover their voices and bring their best into doing the job they have been employed to do.
“LCI, leadership collaboration and Intervention should be the direction of the new CBN. This should be driven by best practices for our financial system sound health,” Akinyemi concluded.