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PDP, CBN Governor: Back to the trenches again?

By Mike Odiakose

For several decades incumbent governors of the Central Bank of
Nigeria, CBN, maintained a tradition of being totally apolitical, even
during military regimes. However, all that changed during the tenure
of the immediate past Governor of the CBN, Lamido Sanusi Lamido, when
he pitched tent with politicians and other opposition elements against
the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan who was
elected into office on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party,
PDP.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s face-off with the PDP eventually led to his
sack over alleged “breaches of enabling laws, due process, and mandate
of the Central Bank” before he was rewarded with the position of Emir
of Kano, which he was again sacked over political differences with the
governor of Kano state. The involvement of CBN governors in partisan
politics appears to be the new normal as the incumbent CBN governor,
Godwin Emefiele is strongly believed to be interested in throwing his
hat into the ring for the presidential ticket of the ruling All
Progressives Congress, APC. Initially it was branded vehicles with
Emefiele’s pictures and APC logo that went viral with some faceless
groups claiming to have purchased the vehicles for the CBN Governor’s
campaign.

The speculation about Emefiele’s presidential ambition took a new
twist last Friday when some groups claimed that have paid a whooping
sum of N100 million to purchase APC nomination and expression of
interest forms for the CBN Governor.

Mixed reactions trailed the purported purchase of APC nomination form
for Emefiele. Emefiele was within the week listed as one of those who
have purchased the form. But on Saturday, the CBN boss said the form
was purchased by farmers and patriots. The youth wing of apex Igbo
socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide
demanded the immediate resignation of the Central Bank Governor,
Godwin Emefiele.

In a statement on Sunday by OYC President-General, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike,
he said the Igbo youths can’t be hoodwinked by Emefiele’s claims.

“Where has it ever be heard that the Governor of a country’s apex bank
will have anything to do with partisan politics?

“This is an absurdity taken too far. We are even seeing the futile
efforts by the CBN Governor to convince gullible members of the
society that the form was not purchased by him.

“We must say that his defence is dead on arrival, it’s like punching
the air. What of the hundreds of branded cars that have been trending
on social media? And could his so-called father Christmas farmers and
patriots have purchased APC form for him if he were not a card
carrying member of the party?” Okwu asked.

He said the only option left for the CBN boss was to resign honourably
or be disgraced out of office.

“We can’t afford to continue to retain a card carrying member of the
APC as CBN Governor. We now know why the economy is facing all manner
of flops for the past 7 years.

“We can’t have on the saddle a CBN Governor who is using our common
wealth to sponsor the APC and this is why we are giving Emefiele 30
days to resign or be exposed. We have information on how he has been
romancing with politicians in APC. Should he fail to resign, Nigerians
will hear more about him,” Okwu vowed.

In his own reaction Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who is
also an APC member, called on Mr Godwin Emefiele to resign if he has
interest in 2023 Presidential election.

Akeredolu, in a statement he personally signed on Friday in Akure,
said the reported intention of Emefiele to contest the presidential
election was “received with palpable disbelief and shock by many
Nigerians”.

Akeredolu said, while Emefiele has the constitutional right to belong
to and participate full in any group or association, “doing so as the
CBN governor is brazen.”

“This act, if unchecked, timeously, portends great danger to the
fragile economy of the country,” he stated.

He noted that pictures of branded vehicles, ostensibly purchased for
electioneering, were also posted on the social media.

“The audacious moves by those who claimed to be supporting this
interest have been unsettling.

“This latest news confirms that the Governor may indeed be interested
in immersing himself in the murky waters of politics like any other
Nigerian with partisan interests.

“It is incontrovertible that Mr Emefiele enjoys a constitutionally
protected right to belong to any group or association and participate
fully, just as any Nigerian.

“It is, however, difficult to imagine that a person who occupies the
exalted and sensitive office of the Governor of the Central Bank of
Nigeria will be this brazen in actualising his ambition. There is no
gain asserting the obvious.

“The combined effect of the Public Service Rules, CBN Act and the 1999
Constitution, as amended, exposes not only the oddity inherent in this
brash exercise of presumed right to associate.

“It also confirms the illegality of the act should he proceed to
submit the forms while occupying the seat as Governor of the Central
Bank of Nigeria.

“Consequently, we admonish Mr Emefiele to leave the office,
immediately, for him to pursue his interest,” he said.

According to Akeredolu, Emefiele cannot combine partisan politics with
the very delicate assignment of his office.

“Should he refuse to quit, it becomes incumbent on the President and
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to remove him forthwith.

“This is a joke taken too far,” Akeredolu said.

Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State
also expressed his opposition to Emefiele’s presidential ambition and
called on the Federal Government to effect the resignation of the CBN
Governor.

Tambuwal, a Presidential aspirant on the platform of PDP, made the
call on Saturday, in Jalingo, shortly after interacting with the party
delegates ahead of PDP presidential primaries.

The governor said that Emefiele’s continued stay in office, after
openly identifying himself with a political party, should not be
encouraged.

Expectedly some hitherto unknown Civil Society Organisations under the
auspices of Coalition of Civil Society Groups, CCSG, rose in defence
of the CBN Governor

According to the coalition they are giving their support for
Emefiele’s presidency, because of the unparalleled achievement based
on his professionalism and patriotism he brought to bare on managing
the various sectors of the economy on a solid sustainable path that
has keep the nation afloat since he was appointed Governor of the
Central Bank of Nigeria.

The coalition made the statement signed by the President, CCSG, Etuk
Bassey Williams, and Secretary General, CCSG, Abubakar Ibrahim and
several civil society organisations, while addressing a world press
conference in Abuja.

The coalition said Emefiele can vie for any political position in
Nigeria like any other Nigerian based on his constitutional rights.

They also cautioned Gov Akeredolu and some politicians who have ganged
up to malign and run down Emefiele, and they warned that the groups
sponsored by the intimidated politicians should immediately desist
from their cheap blackmail and calls for him to resign.

The coalition expressed dismay over the poor strategy some politicians
aimed at overheating the polity, and said would be vehemently resisted
if they still go ahead.

The statement reads in part, “It is really unfortunate that some
politicians have nothing to offer because they have run out of steam
and are only out to blackmail credible Nigerians who do not rest but
keep economic working.

“We need to tell the ‘nay sayer’ and other paid agents that during the
peak of the covid-19 pandemic, Emefiele was able to mobilize the
private sectors and salvage the situation, despite the harsh financial
state of the country, he also introduced several policies to support
the poor; the farmer’s anchor borrower programme that just witnessed
first of its kind of rice pyramid a few months ago.

“Given his pedigree, Emefiele was expected to bring on board novelties
at the Bank and that he wasted no time in doing. While building on the
policies of his predecessors, the core of Emefiele’s innovative stance
at the CBN was development financing.

“We also pass Vote of Confidence on the workaholic and goal-getter
game changer, Mr Godwin Emiefele, as we throw our weight behind him,
and we promised to use our massive structures across the 36 States and
FCT in all 744 local government areas to ensure we mobilize Nigerians
to actualize the Emefiele Presidency come 2023.

“We are resolved and rooted to make this happen as we transverse
Nigeria. Those who know they cannot stand out heat should join us to
ensure a credible and vibrant leader take over and continue to build
on the successes recorded by the Buhari-led administration.

However, they said nobody or groups can stamped Emefiele out of
office, and warned that they would not sit down and watch some
politicians threaten and intimidate a patriotic Nigerian like the CBN
Governor.”

The controversy over the CBN Governor’s involvement in partisan
politics took a new dimension when some ethnic youth leaders in the
country flayed recent statements against the Central Bank of Nigeria
by the trio of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, constitutional
lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay as well as activist publisher, Omoyele
Sowore, following his perceived 2023 presidential ambition.
The ethnic youth leaders, reacting in a statement, Sunday, took
exception to the criticisms that have trailed the development, noting
that leaving the current President of the African Development Bank and
former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akiwumi Adesina, who also obtained
the form, out and singling Emefiele out in the actions, was an ethnic
bias.
“We have just witnessed a brazen display of ethnic bigotry from the
likes of Governor Akeredolu, Professor Sagay, and Mr Omoyele Sowore,
who have come out to openly attack the person of the CBN Governor on
hearing that form has been purchased for him.
” They are calling for his resignation while also keeping mute on the
purchase of the APC nomination form by the President of the African
Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina who holds a similar office. Why not
also ask Adesina to resign or call for his sack.
“This only amounts to ethnic attack against the CBN Governor, who is
not their kinsman. Therefore, we ask them to cease their rants as they
hold no water and will not affect the determination of Nigerians who
want to see a capable and most qualified leader in the person of
Godwin Emefiele joining the 2023 presidential race,” the ethnic
leaders said in a statement by their leader, Alhaji Kabiru Yusuf.
However, the strongest criticism against the speculated presidential
ambition of the CBN Governor came at the weekend from the opposition
PDP with the party firing from all cylinders against Emefiele like
they did to his predecessor, Lamido Sanusi in 2014 when the former CBN
governor was perceived to be working hand-in-glove with some
politicians.
Addressing a press conference at the PDP national secretariat, Abuja,
the PDP demanded that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria,
Godwin Emefiele, should be immediately arrested and prosecuted for
engaging in partisan politics, specifically for seeking to contest the
2023 presidential election.

The party, at a press conference, addressed by its National Publicity
Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, recalled having alerted the nation in
March 2022 that Emefiele was being promoted by the presidency as All
Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential candidate for the 2023
general elections.

The PDP drew the attention of Nigerians to the provisions of the CBN
Act 2007 and particularly Section 9 which provided that “the Governor
and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the
service of the bank and while holding office, shall not engage in any
full or part-time employment or vocation, whether remunerated or not…”

This provision, according to the PDP, “is clear in demanding that 100
percent of the time and expertise of the CBN Governor and Deputy
Governors shall be dedicated to the service of the CBN. This is
because the CBN is critical to the integrity and stability of our
economy.”

The PDP further pointed out that “Section 030422 of the Public Service
Rule states that no public officer shall (a) hold any office, paid or
unpaid, permanent or temporary, in any political organisation, (b)
offer himself/herself or nominate anyone else as a candidate for any
elective public office…, (c) indicate publicly his support of or
opposition to any party, candidate or policy and (d) engage in
canvassing in support of political candidates unless such officer
resigns his appointment.”

The opposition party said Emefiele’s action was more serious when
considered alongside with Section 030502 (g) of the rule, which listed
“engaging in partisan political activities as serious act of
misconduct.”

The party alleged that Emefiele’s involvement in politics without
resigning as CBN Governor therefore amounted to gross misconduct in
contravention of Section 11 2 (2)(c) of the CBN Act.

“Now that Mr. Emefiele has joined politics and reportedly obtained the
N100 million Presidential aspirant form from the APC, he cannot
continue to resume at the CBN, which is the commonwealth of our
nation.

“By this, Mr. Emefiele has become a clear and present danger to the
health, integrity and reputation of the CBN and our nation’s financial
sector. His continued stay as CBN Governor will further destroy
investors’ confidence in the integrity of our nation’s financial
regulatory Institution,” the party added.

The PDP stated that “Mr. Emefiele’s involvement in partisan politics
while still holding office as CBN Governor underpins the impunity,
lawlessness and recklessness of the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC
administration and further confirmed that the CBN under Emefiele has
all along been the finance department of the APC.”
However, few hours after the PDP press conference Emefiele took to the
social media to announce that he was yet to make a decision on whether
to run for the office of the president of the country.

He, however, expressed appreciation for the sacrifices made by farmers
and patriots who went as far as raising personal funds for him to
contest the election. The CBN governor, in a series of tweets on his
verified Twitter handle @GodwinIEmefiele, said, “I am humbled by the
growing interest of those asking that I run for the Office of
President in the 2023 general elections.

“I have not come to that decision. I note and salute the sacrifices of
those farmers and patriots going as far as raising personal funds and
offering me Presidential Nomination Forms.

“I thank them most profusely. However, should I answer their calls and
decide to seek presidential nomination, I will use my own hard earned
savings from over 35 years of banking leadership to buy my own
Nomination Forms without proxies in an open and transparent manner in
full compliance with the laws and Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria.

“And should I not run for elected office, I will continue to serve and
sacrifice for the good people of Nigeria under the able leadership of
President Muhammadu Buhari.

“This is a serious decision that requires God’s Divine intervention:
in the next few days The Almighty will so direct.”

Political Observers are of the view that more dramatic events will
unfold in the next few days when the APC will draw the curtain on the
sales of its nomination forms. That is when it will become certain
those that actually purchased the party’s nomination forms and those
that are pretending to be in the race.

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