Godwin Emefiele, a Nigerian politician, economist, and banker, served as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from June 4, 2014, until his suspension by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on June 9, 2023.
Presidential ambition and campaign controversy:
In April 2022, the Emefiele Support Group (ESG) claimed responsibility for procuring campaign materials, including branded buses, for Godwin Emefiele’s potential presidential bid. The appearance of these campaign buses sparked reactions, with some calling for his resignation. Emefiele neither confirmed nor denied the rumours until March 28, 2022, when he stated that he had not made a decision regarding his presidential aspiration. He emphasised that if he were to join the race, he would use his own savings to buy nomination forms.
Dismissal of Emefiele’s Presidential ambition:
In May 2022, a Nigerian court in Abuja dismissed Emefiele’s request to prevent his disqualification from pursuing the presidential ticket. The court summoned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the attorney general to present their sides in the case.
Naira redesign announcement:
On October 26, 2022, Emefiele announced the introduction of new Nigerian Naira notes to replace the current denominations of N200, N500, and N1000. The redesign was scheduled to take effect from December 15, 2022, and the existing notes would cease to be legal tender by January 31, 2023. However, due to acute scarcity and public outcry, the deadline was extended.
Legal Battle and postponement of Naira redesign:
In February 2023, three state governments filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court to reverse the policy due to hardships caused by the scarcity of the new notes. The court issued an interim order suspending the deadline and allowing both old and new notes to circulate. Despite the court’s order, President Buhari restored the validity of the old N200 notes, while insisting that the N500 and N1000 notes had ceased to be legal tender. Multiple plaintiffs challenged the policy, leading to further delays and confusion.
Read also: The rise and fall of CBN governor Emefiele
Emefiele’s disappearance and controversies:
Godwin Emefiele returned to Nigeria from the United States, where he had attended a summit with President Buhari. He kept a low profile amid reports of a plot by the Department of State Services (DSS) to interrogate him. The DSS had accused him of terrorism financing, but a Federal High Court declined the agency’s request for his arrest.
Reappearance and continuation of Old denominations:
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Emefiele officially ordered commercial banks to comply with the use of old N200, N500, and N1000 notes as legal tender until December 31, 2023. This decision came after a meeting with the Bankers’ Committee and aimed to alleviate the suffering caused by the scarcity of new notes.
As Emefiele’s tenure as CBN governor approached its end, he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) national honour, recognising his contributions to the country.