By Jacob Edi
In classic study of politics and its science, the last year to any nation’s general election is, in the words of Mao Tse Tong, “war without bloodshed…”
Ipso facto, this is the state of the Nigerian nation today.
All things being equal, in the next twelve months, the Government of President Muhammadu Buahri will come to a close and a new Government will be in place.
Gladiators who have declared interest in the race for President Buhari’s successor, and their foot soldiers have been on breezy schedules, making consultations across the land. Of course, with the passage of time, both the contenders and the pretenders will become apparent to Nigerians.
The irony, and tragedy of the Nigerian situation is that politics has degenerated to a stage where comedians appear to take centre stage to the detriment of real actors with capacity and capability to drive the story.
Although the political parties are yet to release zoning arrangements and other parameters for the selection of candidates, not a few Presidential hopefuls have declared their aspirations. There have also been vociferous calls by well-meaning individuals and groups, on Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to throw his hat into the ring of the contest.
Those calling on the CBN boss, justifiably so, point at his outstanding skills in managing the economy using his private sector experience, prudence and integrity. They also celebrate the bankers’ patriotism, team spirit and selfless services to the fatherland. With all sense of modesty, the nation’s economy, which reacted to global economic downturn would have been in a worse state, but for Emiefele’s dexterity, commitment, focus and foresight in managing the economy.
Being not one to hastily jump into a venture without checking the details, the banker has said nothing more than that his future is in the hands of God. He also emphasized something to the effect that the President will work out his succession plans. It will be foolhardy to assume President Buhari will not be involved in the process of the emergence of his successor and the CBN boss is very conscious of this reality.
This apparently innocuous response is however enough to send jitters down the spine of his self-appointed critics who have been raising dusts over the clarion calls. In fact, his traducers accusing him of manipulating the electoral process, have handed him a 14-day ultimatum to either resign or reprimand those entreating him to run. Who is afraid of the CBN helmsman?
The call for Emefiele’s resignation is hasty, callous, nit witted and clearly misplaced. The Alliance for Good Governance in Nigeria, AGGN, have been following the debates over the rumoured Presidential ambition of the CBN Head and wish to call for caution.
But come to think of it? Isn’t Emiefele qualified for any office in the land?
By all parameters, that the CBN chief is eminently qualified to run for the highest office, is clear to all. Even his opponents have not disputed this!
It is not unusual in our political culture for well-wishing groups to call on individuals who in their estimation have capacity to deliver the goods, to contest a political office. Emefiele is not the first to be so seduced. He is indeed not even the first CBN governor to be called upon to lead the nation and, truth is, he may not be the last. Many serving Governors, Ministers and Presidential aides have seen their posters emblazoned without prior approval. Yet, no one has called on them to resign. So why call on the CBN governor to resign?
In any case, he has not made public his ambition, if any. And even if he does not have one, is he expected to hire a battalion of riot policemen to disperse a rally in his name just to prove his ‘innocence”…
No one spits away a good taste. If Emefiele did not initiate the clamour for his invitation into the race, he may not be in a position to halt same. Indeed, it would be fastidious and suicidal to attempt it.
One hour in an election season is a lot of time. The presidential poll is still about a year away. Just about anything can still happen between now and the election time. We call on the group seeking Emefiele’s head to exercise restraint.
The CBN Governor was first appointed by a People’s Democratic Party Government under former President Goodluck Jonathan. The incumbent President Buhari did not only retain, but reappointed him for a second term. Of course this should ordinarily have been a big plus but in the murky waters of politics, it is clearly an albatross.
During his stewardship, he has skilfully navigated the country out of two recessions, grew its foreign reserve and evolved a monetary policy that stabilised the Naira, among others. To his credit are such lofty programs as reduction in import bill, engineering many programs to cushion the effect of Covid19 as well as creating Coalition Against COVID19, creating 15 Trillion Infrastructure corporation which was recently launched, the very successful Anchor Borrowers’ program among others.
The CBN under his watch has maintained foreign reserves to balance the country’s payments, help influence the foreign exchange rate, and support confidence in financial markets. They are essentially the bank’s back-up funds that can be used in case of emergency. In essence, foreign reserves give the government the confidence and resilience to withstand shocks if a country’s currency crashes or devalues.
In the last six years of volatility in the global oil sector, Nigeria’s foreign reserves have made headline either by moving upwards or downwards. The CBN is the war room where the governor marshals responses to safeguard the international value of the Naira. The evidence abounds.
Through interventions in the foreign exchange market, the CBN governor has severally deflected financial ill-winds and limiting external vulnerability by maintaining foreign currency liquidity to absorb shocks during times of crisis or when access to borrowing was curtailed.
Clinical in approach, he has had at critical moment demonstrated confidence to the international community that Nigeria is always able to meet its external obligations.
Anyone with such selfless record of service may well enjoy the confidence of others. People should not railroad him into the presidential race, or intimidate him out of it. Leave the technocrat alone. When the time comes, we are convinced that Emefiele will not hesitate to make his decision public. Whatever it may be, that is.
It is worthy of note that the CBN governor is, for now, focused on delivering on his core mandate of managing the nation’s economy through macro and micro economic programs. Nevertheless, though a technocrat, he is technically in politics.