• Thursday, December 07, 2023
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If Emefiele was bad for the CBN, so were his deputies

Even for the strongest supporters of the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefiele is has now become clear that his tenure at the helm of affairs of the country’s apex bank was disastrous in the main.

From wherever you like at it, the recent revelations and what some raised alarm about years ago have only added to the pain and anger of well-meaning Nigerians who believe that he abused his powers and south to entrench the unorthodox policies monetary policies that have helped to ground the Nigerian economy.

But arguably, his guilt is no less than that of those who remain in office as acting or deputy governors who together with Emefiele were called the committee of governors.

As one brilliant lawyer has said, “Emefiele was not the boss of the deputy governors, he was chairman both of the committee of governors and the board of the Central Bank and they the deputy governors have considerable latitude in their respective responsibilities and by so doing they aided and abetted the serial failures of Emefiele by just keeping quiet.”

It is appropriate that the state is asking Emefiele to answer to questions about alleged malfeasance during his lengthy time as governor, but so too should the deputy governors be made to account for their time in their exalted positions.

How are the deputy governors who served under Emefiele different from the man. Just take a look at the corporate governance guideless released recently, and after Emefiele had been suspended and you will see Emefiele’s hand all over. Rather than being a corporate governance tool, the measure amounted to no more than an appeasement of those entrenched in the banking sector whose influence should be diluted.

Some of Emefiele’s detractors have said that he did not bother to ponder the consequences when he, together with Buhari, plundered Nigeria’s resources and destroyed the economy. Through the CBN’s balance sheet just released, it is now clear that Buhari , through the CBN took secret loans from international organisations like JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and by way of FX Forwards etc. We are here talking of secret loans up to 15 billion dollars. Secret in the sense that the national assembly was not even aware of it and therefore , after the loans were received , there was no appropriation.

Buhari , Emefiele and their band just kept spending and plundering Nigeria into deeper hole. “Buhari took those secret loans and used our foreign reserves (built by past governments) as collateral. “Said one commentator. “This is in addition to other humongous loans that he took, with the approval of the ‘o yes’ national assembly, from world bank, IMF, ADB and other international financial institutions. He also took loans from countries like China, France,India , Japan and Germany. Buhari took more loans in eight years than all the loans , when added together, taken by past governments of Nigeria since our independence in 1960. Let that sink.

“He took more loans in eight years than what we took in our first 55 years as a country. And yet that was not enough for Buhari and Emefiele. It has now emerged that Emefiele printed 23 trillion Naira for Buhari to spend without any appropriation or oversight by the national assembly.

This is what has made the value of the Naira to tank. Go and read the CBN report just published and you will weep for what Buhari and Emefiele and the Central Bank that he led did to Nigeria. I hope that those who voted him (Buhari) because “Osinbajo will handle the economy” can now clap for themselves.”

There are others who also must now be regretting. Perhaps unknown to many, the same Osinbajo had plotted to ease Emefiele out while he Osinbajo was acting as President of Nigeria. The story goes that when this became known to Emefiele, he rushed to the former governor of Cross River State Donald Duke and once insider the sitting room in his Ikoyi house, the suspended governor went on the floor to plead with Duke to intercede with Osinbajo so he can keep his job.

Duke approached the then acting president. He was not alone. So too was Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi who offered kind words on behalf of Emefiele. Osinbajo reluctantly heeded their call, but not before letting the men know that they will regret pleading for the suspended governor. A man of nine lives, Emefiele got his job back, became even strong in influence, secured a rate second term and the rest is now history.

It is trite the argument that the deputy governors can be seen as saints in the mess that Emefiele left at the Central Bank. It is childish to say they the deputy governors have no stain on their garment.

According to one analyst, “the current acting governor was the deputy governor overseeing finance. He received these audited accounts over the last 6/7 years. Yet he did not insist that they be released. Even when others raised issues with him about Ways and Means and inappropriate policies, Emefiele and the deputy governors silenced them.

Truth be told, all the deputy governors who served with Emefiele are fully complicit in the mess that we find ourselves in. Recall when the Supreme Court judges (without exception) wrote a petition against the then CJ, Tanko, they risked their jobs but preserved their integrity.

“If President Bola Tinubu is serious, he should clear out the place, and re-appoint new deputy governors. After all with the financials released, a new team would be clear about ground zero, and what their starting line is.

“Did you not see the current acting governor speak the other day like Emefiele, even threatening Nigerians with a crack down on speculation. This is how Emefiele started o!! If they have a plan, they should execute. What they should be doing is to execute and not tell Nigerians about a plan. They should be trying to engender confidence in order to increase FX supply, not telling Nigerians not to make rational personal financial decisions by buying and keeping a scarce commodity.”

A former regulator who says there is nothing to praise in any of those who served with Emefiele, said, “how much of their work or lack of it has gone into putting us where we find ourselves today? As a former regulator, I know how much very real power a regulator has to affect lives.

Read also: The CBN files: The spending (1)

Regulators are more powerful than ministers (and even the President in certain instances). Their yes or no or their inaction has real consequences for us all as we can all see today. The CBN balance sheet tells a terrible story. If it were a simple limited liability company and you were a shareholder being told that your reserves have been so eroded by current and contingent liabilities that your net reserve position is close to zero; and the directors never issued a warning; wouldn’t you be calling your lawyers by now?” According to him, “would you say nothing should be done just because one of the directors dresses sharply and speaks correct English?”

Given that the acting governor and his erstwhile colleagues were board members of the CBN, they must have contributed to debates on the various policies of the bank, served on sub committees and there is as yet no record of a written disagreement with Emefiele or his wayward policy interventions.

Was it that they were oblivious of the unfavourable economic decisions of Emefiele and was it that they unaware of the dangerous impact of the multiple windows for forex? Were they not aware of the privileged few who benefitted from the illegal allocations from the CBN and sat in the comfort of their homes selling or round tripping forex? Did they see the audited accounts of the CBN which have now been made public. What did they do?

Was there any warning to from the deputy governors to the Governor by any or all of them personally or jointly? If yes, what happened? If no, why not? Where they not afraid of losing their juicy appointments into committees or not being in the good books of Emefiele as the Emperor of CBN? In all this, whose interests did they serve as deputy governors under Emefiele, the National interest or personal interests? Did they compromise their oath of office?