Emefiele failed to redeem himself, suspension, sigh of relief — Laolu Akande

Laoiu Akande

By Oluwafemi Popoola

An erudite journalist and scholar, Laolu Akande, has described the suspension and arrest of the embattled Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, as a sigh of relief, insisting that every lover of the country regardless of their political leanings should be thankful for the development.

Akande, who was the spokesman to the former Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, made the remark on Saturday, June 10, 2023, via a thread on his Twitter handle, @akandeoj, where he was critical of the suspended CBN boss, adding that “after he was given a long rope, he failed to redeem himself.”

His comment came following the suspension of the CBN governor by President Bola Tinubu, which was made public Friday night in a statement by the Director of Information at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Willie Bassey.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has suspended the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, CFR, from office with immediate effect. This is a sequel to the ongoing investigation of his office and the planned reforms in the financial sector of the economy,” the statement said.

“Mr Emefiele has been directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Deputy Governor (Operations Directorate) [Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi], who will act as the Central Bank Governor pending the conclusion of the investigation and the reforms,” Willie said in his statement.

Consequently, Akande, reacting to the development in his Twitter posts where he was critical of the embattled CBN boss said, “It was about time (the) CBN Governor faced suspension and investigation. All people of goodwill and those who value integrity, irrespective of political leanings would be thankful for this development. Emefiele was given a long rope, but he failed to redeem himself.”

“His shenanigans and the colossal damages he perpetrated at the CBN was to the utter detriment of the Nigerian people. This is not even about cashless policy, but apparent corruption especially in the dual exchange rate policy which never made sense. What a sigh of relief!” Akande had tweeted.

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Recalled, Akande’s boss, former Vice President Osinbajo, had, on different occasions made recommendations to the CBN authorities for better management of the country’s financial matters, the latest being on October 11, 2021, when he advised the Emefiele-led CBN to have a “rethink” about its current forex demand management strategy.

The former VP gave the advice when he spoke at the 2021 Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat where he criticised the foreign exchange policy adopted by the Central Bank of Nigeria, noting that the exchange rate was artificially low and did not reflect the current market realities.

He, however, advised the CBN to adjust the official exchange rate of the Naira in a realistic manner that will attract Forex inflow into the country.

In another intervention, on February 16, 2017, as Acting President, Prof Osinbajo presiding over the first National Economic Council (NEC) meeting of the year, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to review the foreign exchange policy.

The meeting resolved that fresh $250 million be injected into the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

The CBN subsequently released about $500 million through the inter-bank market where the 23 banks bought $371 million.

As a result, there were indications that the weakened naira currency was showing small signs of recovery after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had moved to ease some foreign exchange restrictions.

Days later, the naira was strengthened to about N480 to the US Dollar on the black market after being N520 and even higher in previous weeks.

Reacting then, Fitch’s BMI Research said the policy was like “A precursor to a more meaningful move in the exchange rate” given the yawning gulf between parallel rates and the official inter-bank rate of N305.

Since assuming office in 2014, the suspended CBN chief had faced criticisms among Nigerians due to his “abysmal handling” of the country’s fiscal and monetary policies.

During his tenure, the Nigerian currency, the naira, experienced a significant decline, currently trading at over N750 per dollar in the parallel market and N469.50 per dollar at the parallel market as of Thursday, June 8, 2923, the lowest it has ever traded on the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window.