CBN: Why the mess is far deeper than we can imagine

On June 4, 2014, Nigeria ushered in Emefiele as the country’s first politicians’ and big businesses’ ATM. And to leave no one in doubt during the nine years, Godwin Emefiele was in absolute charge. Not only did he mismanage the affairs of the country’s apex bank, Emefiele did so in a monarchical absolutism and philistinism.

Knowing that the electorate in Nigeria have often voted for the highest bidder, this once an Ajegunle ghetto boy wanted to become president too. Not even a national outcry and fierce international opposition of his political ambition could stop him. With his kind of deep pocket, who could have stopped Nigeria’s self-crowned lord of money? So he soldiered on.

The law is opposed to a sitting public servant contesting for political elections without first resigning. Emefiele, wanting to still head the apex bank while contesting for APC’s presidential nomination, had to put together an army of dreadful attorneys to institute lawsuits against anyone trying to stop him from running. But once he discovered that he had been ambushed without any escape route, he reluctantly surrendered. Who else needed to be briefed except his godfather, the man who had given him the long rope he had been enjoying as he wished?

While he was coming out of the president’s office, an army of journalists wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth if he had given up on his presidential ambition. But the angry Emefiele didn’t find it funny that he could be answering these journalists about what shouldn’t be their business. In his usual regal, Emefiele, refusing to stomach such a question, wasted no time in telling these journalists, “There is no news now, but there will be news. You heard me; I said there is no news.”

When one of the journalists further asked “Does that mean you are abandoning your presidential ambition to your opponents?” the overly angry Emefiele replied, “Let them have heart attack; it’s good to have heart attack. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Who else did Godwin Emefiele’s nine-year kind of lording it over Nigerians remind us apart from Mayer Amschel Rothschild? As the private owner of Britain’s money supply, he had this to say: “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws… [Because] I control the British money supply [so I] control the British Empire and care not about who makes its law.”

Did Emefiele not also prove former US President Andrew Jackson right? In 1883 Jackson warned that allowing an overly ambitious person the power in “…controlling national currency, receiving public moneys, and holding thousands of citizens in dependence… [that that person] would be far more formidable and dangerous [even] than the naval and military power of the enemy”.

Who could have imagined that Emefiele — the once poor Emefiele — could suddenly grow to become the exact replica of Henry Ford’s Lord of Money? He once said, “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

With his reign as the controller of the country’s money supply, he made sure that no one was in doubt that he’s the boss, and that the man who controlls the country’s national treasury has the absolute power only second to God’s.

Emefiele created and handed the long rope he was enjoying by the country’s evil politicians. He had become difficult to control to the point that whenever he sneezed they all quickly would catch cold. Even Buhari had discovered how difficult it was to tame Emefiele, the man who by law held the keys to the country’s vault.

So running the apex bank as it pleased him became indisputable. So Emefiele could go ahead to raise interest rates for his banker friends and no one raised any opposition. And Emefiele could go as far as engaging in monetary policy tightening to the point of causing economic financialization that starved small businesses of access to credits, but everyone (including the media) had to keep quiet. So unbelievable it went that Emefiele successfully mismanaged the country’s forex policy before our eyes but no one could raise their voice.

With politicians and big businesses in bed with Emefiele, who else could oppose him without having their fingers burnt? Even the judiciary was not left out. So, anyone trying to stand in his way had to think twice.

Huge gaps were artificially created between his forex official market and the carefully starved of forex parallel market — the most profitable business in Nigeria — the who’s-who began befriending Emefiele to access his official forex. Those who were lucky used forex round-tripping to become instant dollar billionaires.

In the face of such connivance with powerful politicians and commercial bankers, government had to be borrowing its own money at exorbitant rates from local banks. Besides borrowing its own money, government went as far as borrowing externally to be able to be servicing its domestic debts.

Unable to squeeze funds from the credit market (that should have been made available to small businesses that starved of funds), most closed shops and some had to join the kidnapping business in order to survive. But besides starving local businesses of the critical funding they needed, did Emefiele’s CBN not strategically allow imported inflation to put due pressure on local consumer market to the point of ruining the purchasing power of the majority of Nigerian consumers? Should those directly or indirectly benefitting from milking Nigeria ever care about the cost implications on millions of Nigerians out there priced out of the consumer market?

In the presence of such trickle-up economcs, why shouldn’t tax revenue dwindle to the point of government having to depend on endless borrowing to annually fill the runaway budget deficits compounded by an ever-increasing cost of governmance? Could the negative growth be tamed without taking drastic measures in taming the ever-personalized monetary regime of the apex bank?

Without making the financial sector pro-small business, pro-investment and pro-jobs, from where else would the real sector economy get the oxygen to survive let alone compete with the kind of cheap goods dumping from countries like China?

In the meantime, government had to engage in direct borrowing from the Central Bank. This further increased the powers of the ever-powerful governor, who all he could do was to engage in the endless printing of more fiat currency.

Absence of tax revenue also made government restrict itself to recurrent spending while abandoning capital project funding.

With all the powers he had, Emefiele decided to also walk away from what is well known as conventional central banking and began to lend directly to businesses and individuals. This unheard-of in central banking went unopposed. Who could have opposed it without having their fingers burnt?

With CBN now assuming the same functions of the banks it should be supervising and regulating, it became obvious that there were no limits to engaging in exposing the apex bank to private debt risks. This also presented an opportunity for officials of the CBN to help themselves, just as politicians and big businesses had been helping themselves by using their fronts to secure loans from CBN that they all knew without collateral no one was expected to pay back.

Little wonder their so-called Anchor Borrowers Programme was littered with toxic debts. To see how messier it was, one should just visit the so-called Fadama Scheme to see for themselves the kind of financial recklessness where hundreds of billions of naira purported to have been handed to farmers could not be accounted for by either CBN officials or so-called farmers who, in reality, were politicians themselves.

Even when those responsible for fiscal policy — including the finance minister —expressed alarm, what more did they get than being told to shut up and never ever talk where the governor and the president were talking?

In the meantime, to hide all the financial atrocities they committed, the governor had no option but to engage the services of those who specialised in book cooking. And that the apex bank did by assigning bogus numbers as they pleased the governor.

Reported around the world as Africa’s monetary policy magician, Nigeria’s financial czar began to tour major economic centres around the world collecting highest-bidder awards, while those giving these awards continued to wonder the kind of country Nigeria is. Notwithstanding being crowned the poverty capital of the world with the highest youth unemployment, Nigeria watched as its central bank governor was so shamelessly going around the world collecting useless awards!

As if not done with Nigerians, Buhari and Emefiele had to also connive to suddenly adopt my proposed naira redesign and cashless policies. I had submitted the proposal to his chief of staff in February 2016. That it had become inevitable couldn’t be far-fetched. Their so-called desperation to digitalize the naira currency was needed in order to eventually control emerging financial digital payment technologies, since whoever controls these new payment systems wouldn’t have to bother about who runs commercial banks.

Since they also needed to use a vehicle to lawfully drive this emergent technology, forcibly procuring eNaira, a privately owned name which they have falsely insisted to mean the same as naira.

Just as most nations are churning out digital currency laws to protect the public from all forms of cyber attacks, CBN, without any form of precautionary discussions, went ahead with its so-called eNaira Wallet. Since its launch, it has remained a complete failure. A failure to the point that IMF can’t stop calling it a displaced priority. And to prove that CBN shouldn’t have had any business with retail banking, IMF records have continued to show low patronage as low as “0.8% of Nigeria’s active bank accounts” have eNaira wallets.

Today, while Nigeria bleeds, Buhari and his immediate boys have since left town, disappearing into thin air, leaving poor Emefiele alone to face the music. With Tinubu determined to clean up the mess which must be cleaned up anyway, many powerful heads will eventually roll.

But Buhari had already warned ahead of leaving office that he would not be available for any questioning, and should his successor ever try to disturb his peace all he could do would be to relocate to the neighbouring Niger Republic, which happens to be just a few kilometers from his Daura home in Katsina State.

Notwithstanding his warning, on June 9, 2023, Emefiele his godson was suspended as governor and the next day, June 10, he was picked up and is now behind bars. The question is, will Emefiele talk?

From my discussions with those who know him very well, I’ve learned that Emefiele is a coward who, once threatened, might start talking endlessly like a parrot. But why should he go down alone for the alleged innumerable crimes?

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