By Tunde Akande
I have never been a fan of Godwin Emefiele since he was appointed the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN by former President Goodluck Jonathan. My ground for distrust in him is the manner in which he was appointed, the character of the man that appointed him, and the circumstances of the appointment. President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP sat on what many believe to be the most corrupt government Nigeria ever had. If Nigeria were a united nation where there is justice Jonathan ought to be in jail now for the horrendous sleaze that took place under him. But in our characteristic tribalism, when Buhari mooted the idea of probing Jonathan, Professor Ben Nwabueze, shouted that if Jonathan would be probed that probe must extend to other presidents before him.
Professor Nwabueze it was who advised Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi to jettison Nigeria’s federalism. It was the same Nwabueze together with the late Rotimi Williams who made a unitary system in the current constitution. Nwabueze is shedding crocodile tears over what he did twice. It is difficult to believe he made mistake; he only thought it will favour his Igbo clan, but it did not. Rather it is the North who took advantage of it. When Ironsi made decree 34 which ended federalism in Nigeria, the North replied with a clandestinely planned pogrom that eliminated thousands of Igbos and led to the tragic three-year civil war. Firmly in power, General Yakubu Gowon, from the North through a revenge coup, refused to abrogate the obnoxious decree 34 thus putting the North at advantage to dominate the nation to date.
Welcome to 2007 when Goodluck Jonathan was picked contrary to popular expectation to run with Umaru Musa Yar’adua for the presidency and vice presidency ticket on the platform of PDP. Goodluck Jonathan was the revelation of that victory because his principal, Yar’dua soon died, and he became the president. Yar’adua had replaced cerebral Charles Chukwuma Soludo with Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN governor which was an apparent tribal move. But Sanusi is cerebral too and up to the task. Sanusi was equally very zealous and sincere to rid Nigeria of embedded corruption. This zeal brought him into conflicts with President Jonathan who schemed his removal and brought in Godwin Emefiele in another tribally induced appointment. Emefiele thus has his appointment to tribalism and not competence. It was very apparent that Emefiele will run a lackluster administration at the CBN. He promised he would not dabble in politics implying by that that he would not go the way of Sanusi, his predecessor. But the reality is that Emefiele was going to play a survivalist in his job. Survivalists don’t talk much in public; they know to play the tribal and religious cards and to pander to whoever is in power and the cabal that surrounds them. Emefiele survived Goodluck Jonathan and when Muhammadu Buhari defeated Jonathan in 2015, survivalist Emefiele continued in his office with Buhari who had stuffed his administration with so many northerners as to be ashamed to replace Emefiele with another northerner. But Emefiele soon began to pander to whoever was powerful around Buhari. Emefiele himself began to be powerful.
The climax of Emefiele’s power and influence was when feelers began to appear in the press that Emefiele will contest the presidential primary of the APC. Nigerians won’t have a problem if Emefiele had been spectacular in his performance at the CBN, but Nigerians have seen no success at the CBN. The management of the economy has been shoddy. But competence is not popular in Nigeria. In fact, the more incompetent you are the more you are preferred for an appointment. The incompetent is always preferred because he or she will be easily manipulated. Apart from incompetence, the other qualification for elevation into high political office is wealth. This wealth is either stolen in public office or contributed by persons who had been favoured in that office and had made huge money and are willing to bankroll your campaign.
The evidence that Emefiele either has some money somewhere or has the promise of sponsorship from some rich people who had made their money through him was his desire to contest the presidency. Another piece of evidence was the 60th secret birthday bash organized for him at a Caribbean Island which was leaked on social media. At the birthday bash was the richest black man in the world, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the owner of Dangote Cement and Dangote Refinery, the biggest refinery in the world. There were other unnamed Nigerian billionaires at the birthday. It leaked also during the ongoing public spat between the journalists of Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of APC, and the journalist of a media empire consisting of ThisDay and Arise Television, Nduka Obaigbena. The journalists of Tinubu alleged that Obaigbena obtained a consultancy from Emefiele to help in his quest to be president which ran in hundreds of millions of naira. By what these Tinubu journalists told the nation, when we saw and read in Obaigbena’s media empire the desire of Emefiele to be president, it was the consultancy that was at work.
Many have raised questions on the possible source of the wealth of Godwin Emefiele, and wondering what may have emboldened him to dabble in the presidential sweepstakes of the APC of which he later withdrew from the race. Currently running on YouTube and surprisingly not the mainstream media which has compromised with the Nigeria ruling elite to betray the Nigerian masses, is a nagging story of about 79 trillion naira alleged fraud that was supposed to have gone into the purse of the federal government for stamp duty. A UK-based Nigerian, Adekola Adekoya said to be a stamp duty expert got wind of the alleged fraud and sought Buhari’s attention to help Nigeria out. He almost got killed because his security details approved by Buhari were withdrawn. The UK authorities in Nigeria flew him away to safety and treatment in the UK. He later met Gudaji Kazuare, a member of the House of Representatives, in the UK, who after hearing Adekoya out walked into the office of Buhari, explained the alleged stamp duty fraud to him, and got the president’s power to investigate and even arrest anybody who is connected with the fraud.
Thereafter Buhari called in the DSS director and placed him firmly under the command of Gudaji Kazuare to do the investigation. In the course of the investigation, Emefiele was allegedly fingered for infractions, arrested and detained for six hours at the DSS office, feigned hypertension, and was released on administrative bail. Since then, Emefiele had dug into all kinds of Nigerian -type schemes, getting tribesmen and women to make noise in the press that he should not be arrested. Buhari also took him on his entourage to Washington thus shielding him from scrutiny. Now, he is in America for an undisclosed illness while the Senate wants him to explain his policy on cash withdrawal. A CBN deputy governor Aisha Ahmad who represented him at the House of Representatives told the lawmakers the CBN does not know the number of new naira notes that were printed. Couldn’t some of the quantities have gone into private pockets? And what kind of administration is Emefiele running if a deputy governor does not have the amount of currency printed?
Buhari is confused to hear that the man he gave wide powers to investigate the theft has received a letter from the same presidency that his committee has been dismantled. Embarrassed, Gudaji Kazuare has now gone public through the Human Rights radio, Berekete family, to fight the cabal in the presidency who are moving to scuttle the investigation. In the interim, Emefiele has redesigned the naira and placed a limit on cash withdrawal by Nigerians among other policies said to help curtail vote-buying in the upcoming elections and to make Nigeria a cashless economy.
But there was no redesign in naira, only a change of colour. Gudaji Kazuare is claiming that the naira design is a detour to distract the president and to launder the money allegedly stolen through the stamp duty fraud and stacked away in private accounts. The stamp duty corruption allegation has exposed the underbelly of the Nigerian governmental system, a system that is based on individuals and not on institutions, one that is based on personal connection and not on merit and competence. How many Nigerians can walk into the office of the president as Gudaji Kazuare did?
Why did the president make the investigation secret and give the power that the constitution does not empower him to give to an individual? It means the rule of law does not operate in Nigeria. No wonder when Emefiele ran to Buhari in Daura, the president’s hometown, when he had a problem with the House of Representatives over the cash withdrawal policy, the president told him plainly not to fear any man but to go about the naira redesign and the cash withdrawal limit policy. That is a great slap on the separation of power enshrined in our constitution. Nigerians will be watching what becomes of the alleged stamp duty fraud.
Tunde Akande is both a journalist and pastor. He earned a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos