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Nigerians react as Tinubu suspends Emefiele as CBN governor

Godwin Emefiele

The suspension of Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from office has elicited a lot of commentaries and discussions from the public who had been anticipating the move.

President Bola Tinubu on Friday suspended Emefiele following ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy.

Consequently, reports said that the Department of State Services (DSS) has arrested Emefiele. Yet other reports said he has been out under house arrest.

Where a CBN Governor is suspended, he is still the CBN Governor pending his removal under the CBN Act.

Section 8 (1) of the Act provides that the CBN Governor is ‘appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate on such terms conditions as may be set out in their respective letters of appointment’.Section 4 of the Act establishes a Board of Directors while Section 7 states that the CBN Governor shall be answerable to the Board for all his acts and decisions. Section 8 (4) of the Act further statesthat the CBN Governor shall appear before the National Assembly at semi-annual hearings on the activities of the Bank.

“I think the Federal Government should let the office be vacant until there’s a realignment of the CBN’s role in our overall economic management. Mr Emefiele stretched the powers of that office beyond it’s limits and did abuse the office at the expense of the ordinary man. The Government should focus on a holistic review of CBN first before appointments”, said Eben Joels Esq.FCA Country Leader of RSM international correspondent firm Stransact.

Uche Uwaleke, professor of capital market at the Nasarawa State University Keffi, said the suspension of Godwin Emefelie was long foretold. But, this announcement caught not a few by surprise.

The President cannot sack the CBN Governor, but he can suspend which is what the President has done, he said.

Read also: Legal issues on the suspension of the CBN Governor

Recall that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was equally suspended from office by the Jonathan administration.

“This Suspension will mark an end to a turbulent era.

“Godwin Emefiele will be remembered for implementing big ideas such as the Anchor Borrower Programme, the RT200, the eNaira and a raft of interventions which helped to stimulate the economy during periods of economic recession.

To be fair, Emefelie, to a large extent, succeeded in ensuring financial sector stability going by the prudential ratios. His forex demand management policies, especially the 41 items not qualified for forex, promoted import substitution, conserved external reserves and ensured relative stability in exchange rates. It would be unfair to blame him for the current high inflation rate since most of the causative factors are beyond the control of the CBN.

“On the flip side, he will also be remembered for the currency redesign exercise which didn’t go down well with Nigerians and the CBN Ways and Means which grew astronomically during his tenure.

“His greatest mis-step was his attempt to join the list of Presidential candidates. All said, I think he deserves some rest now,” Uwaleke said.

For Abiola Rasaq, former Economist and Head, Investor Relations at United Bank for Africa Plc, “I think the suspension of the governor may not be unrelated to allegations against his office relating to some policy reforms and operations of the apex bank.

“Recall, some months ago, there was a dramatic event at the CBN bordering on investigation of the office of the Governor, which took the intervention of the Presidency to douse. I believe the new administration would like to have a reset, especially as economic reform was a major item on the manifestos of President Tinubu, including reform of the foreign currency management. The leadership of the CBN over the past 9 years does not believe in the liberalisation of the FX market, contrary to the orientation of the Tinubu administra9tion which seeks furth3r liberalisation of the FX market to block leakages and enhance the transparency of the FX market in a way that should stimulate FPI and FDI into the economy.

“I would expect that the Acting CBN Governor would serve through the remaining months of the current tenure whilst we await the announcement of the next Governor, who expectedly would have a fine balance of market orientation, with some adaptation of regulatory controls that should keep markets at comfortable equilibrium,” Rasaq said.

A lawyer and former member of the regulatory agency, said, “not a good precedent. No one will cry for Emefiele but what about the next guy who is good. Maybe I’m biased as a former regulator but I really think even ejecting bad actors should follow good practice. The Office of the President has moral authority and it should be used. Call him and tell him to write a letter requesting to go on leave.

The press release referred to an investigation. First we’re hearing of this? Investigation of what? By who? Shouldn’t CBN’s Board of Governors be the entity announcing his stepping aside, if there is some kind of investigation ongoing?

“Process matters. When Sanusi was “suspended” via a dubious exercise of presidential authority, the people who are now clapping were the same ones who said regulatory risk had increased.

Founder of a consulting firm who has advised financial companies said, “Sanusi was suspended too.

Yes, good optics. Half the battle is psychological and perception management. Investors and even global bankers are going to heave a sigh of relief. Certainly I have received texts from abroad to confirm and then with a dancing emoji in response. This is what BAT has been achieving so far. Taking the seemingly tough decisions upfront. Strategy- let’s put all the shit in one basket once and for all, face the music and get on with it.”

An entrepreneur with businesses in technology and agribusiness, said, “while applauding the decisive move on this matter, we should advise that the new administration follows due process to encourage compliance with the rule of law, overall.

“A thorough investigation is necessary to determine what happened and how to avoid such in future.

“Maybe this route was chosen because Senate approval is required to remove a CBN governor.”