The president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari has said that Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank Governor’s involvement in partisan politics ahead of the 2023 elections was misconstrued by the general public, maintaining that Mr. Emefiele’s actions are not political.
On Tuesday, Mr. Buhari responded to several questions posed by Bloomberg regarding the central bank’s independence, seeing as Mr. Emefiele actively showed interest in running for president.
“The CBN governor is appointed by the President. But this appointment is subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Senate. Ultimately, it will be for the CBN’s board of directors to determine whether a CBN governor’s actions have fallen foul of the laws in place to ensure he can most effectively carry out his duties,”Mr. Buhari responded to Bloomberg.
Though Section 9 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 mandates 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…,” Mr Buhari argues that Mr Emefiele placed Nigerians at the focus of his ambitions.
“But there is a subtext to the accusations. Because the governor follows a model outside of the economic orthodoxy, he is labelled political. But the orthodoxy has proved wrong time and again,” Mr Buhari further said. “Instead, the governor is following an alternative economic model that puts people at the heart of policy. Nigeria should be free to choose its development model and how to construct our economy, so it functions for Nigerians.”
Though the ambition has now been shelved, Mr Emefiele, under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), had declared for president despite multiple denials.
Peoples Gazette reported pictures of campaign vehicles bearing Mr Emefiele’s photos being circulated online, as well as the registration of Diaspora for Emefiele Limited, an organisation in the United Kingdom to push the CBN governor as the next president of Nigeria.
His actions were met with immediate backlash from politicians and civil society alike, who questioned the Central Bank’s independence in light of his ambitions.
Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu demanded that Mr. Emefiele drop out of the presidential race or resign his position as CBN governor, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party accused him of economic sabotage and demanded his resignation.
Subsequently, Mr Emefiele filed a lawsuit at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court seeking clarification as to whether or not he could remain in office while running for president, saying he would suffer irreparable damage if he was not allowed to engage in partisan politics.
Public confidence in Nigeria’s apex financial regulator has been eroded following Mr. Emefiele’s actions. In early June, the Independent National Electoral Commission disclosed that it would no longer store election materials with the Central Bank Of Nigeria.