By Farooq Kperogi
Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele, embodies all that is wrong with Nigeria. He is infernally incompetent, mind-blowingly self-serving, incomprehensibly clueless, overweeningly ambitious, and cruelly insensitive. Yet he wants to be your next president—and remain your Central Bank governor while trying to do so.
In response to questions from State House correspondents on Thursday about the propriety of running for president while still the Central Bank of Nigeria governor and the unease this has caused among most Nigerians, Emefiele said, “Let them [i.e., Nigerians who criticize him] have heart attack. It’s good to have [a] heart attack. I am having a lot of fun.”
He isn’t a presidential nominee, much less a president, yet, but he is already deriving perverse joy from the possibility that Nigerians who question the correctitude of his choices would die of heart attack. He even said, “it’s good to have [a] heart attack” and that he is “having a lot of fun.”
That’s a conscienceless person right there. It shows that the suffocating monetary policies he has been implementing, which have caused Nigeria to become the world’s poverty capital, deepened the misery of millions of Nigerians, and hastened the deaths of scores of people, are intentional. He wants to be president so he can have more unbridled power to take Nigeria to the depths of unheard-of despair and agony.
Of course, it might be argued that Emefiele said what he said in a fit of irritation and didn’t literally mean that he wanted critics of his eccentric presidential run to have heart attacks. He, after all, has notoriety for sophomoric temper tantrums.
For example, in a stunningly childish rage on September 17, 2021, Emefiele challenged UK-based AbokiFx owner OniwindeAdedotun to “come out, let’s fight” because Emefiele thought the naira was losing ground against the foreign currencies because the AbokiFx website published daily exchange rates that reflected the perilous state of the naira! The website has existed since 2014 and merely publishes fluctuations in the foreign exchange market.
Does Nigeria deserve such an incompetent, emotionally damaged, intolerant, and infantile twit as president after Buhari? What kind of country would we have with a president who, in a fit of impotent anger, invites citizens less privileged than he is to a physical fight because he thinks they are responsible for the calamitous outcome of his incompetence?
What kind of country would Nigeria be if it’s saddled with a childish president in the mold of Emefiele who has conniption fits when he’s challenged and who invokes death upon his critics? I leave that to Nigerians to chew over.
If someone wrote a tragicomic drama script about Godwin Emefiele’s scandal-ridden reign as a central bank governor and his ludicrously insane attempts to run for president using the financial and symbolic resources of the central bank while still a central bank governor who hurls consequence-free insults and wishes death upon critics for calling attention to the manifest conflict of interest that his presidential run represents, literary critics would pillory the script for its implausible plot.
Yet, we are witnessing in real life what would be unrealistic in the realm of fictional imagination.
Emefiele is, without contest, the absolute worst central bank governor Nigeria has ever had. His insanely headless monetary policies have caused the unprecedented fall of the naira and the collapse of the economy.
His monumental corruption is already well known. For example, TheCable of December 4, 2015, in an exclusive investigation titled “EXCLUSIVE: How CBN emptied its vaults to finance PDP’s presidential campaign,” uncovered that “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) practically emptied its vaults apparently to finance the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)…”
Emefiele flouted existing anti-money laundering regulations in the country and “dole[d] out hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to various agencies in government in the run-up to the general election” so much so that after February 2015, “the CBN did not have any more dollars in its vaults. Even for estacode, CBN staff had to wait for dollars from the branches,” according to TheCable.
His other scandalous transgressions as a CBN governor are also well-documented in other reports and are unworthy of recapitulation here. Many people had hoped that the change of government in 2015 would bring an end to his reign of ignominy and ineptitude.
Curiously, Muhammadu Buhari retained him and even renewed his term, precisely because of the questionable deal he struck with the late Ismaila Isa Funtua and other members of the Aso Rock cabal.
Not done with two disastrous reigns as a central bank governor, this degenerate, deeply flawed, ethically stained, immature twerp wants to be president. In doing so, he is circumventing age-old norms, violating existing laws, insulting the collective intelligence of the country, and perverting the most basic expectations of common decency.
On Friday, Emefiele got a preposterous court judgement from Kwale, close to his hometown in Delta State, saying INEC should not stop him from running for president while he is still governor of the central bank where sensitive election materials are housed.
What Emefiele did is called “forum shopping” in American legal terminology. It is the practice of taking cases to “plaintiff-friendly” courts that are guaranteed to give favorable judgement to the plaintiff. It’s dishonorable and condemnable.
The Premium Times, in a deeply perceptive and insightful May 12 news analysis titled “ANALYSIS: Why Godwin Emefiele must be removed as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria,” made a compelling case for why Emefiele running for president while he is a sitting governor of the central bank violates several laws.
No forum-shopping, plaintiff-friendly judgment from Emefiele’s hometown high court judge can vitiate the fact of the illegality and indecency of what he is doing.
Fortunately, as I am concluding this piece, BusinessDay reported that Emefiele has withdrawn his bid to run for president. I hope it’s true.
The Murder of Deborah in Sokoto
I am glad that both the Sokoto State government and the Sultan of Sokoto have condemned the barbaric, coldblooded murder of Deborah Yakubu over blasphemy at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto.
I am also cautiously hopeful that their pledge to bring her murderers to justice won’t be the habitual safe, standard, prepackaged rhetorical frippery that our elites effortlessly regurgitate in moments like this. The punishment for murder in the Penal Code is death.
The monstrous, bloodthirsty fanatics who took the law into their own hands and murdered Deborah should be publicly executed after a fair trial to serve as an example to other would-be holy murderers.
For me, though, what is scarier than the unspeakably savage, extrajudicial murder of Deborah is the number of educated—or, more correctly, credentialled—people who exult in, defend, justify, and openly encourage her murder on social media.
There are way more Abubakar Shekaus with high credentials than we care to admit. There are lots of respectable, well-dressed homicidal thugs minus opportunity running around in the country. Boko Haram isn’t an aberration. It’s the logical outgrowth of a culture that valorizes mindless violence in the name of religion.
But here’s a word for the deluded, bloodthirsty fanatics who bay for blood in the name of avenging blasphemy in Islam and who countenance the jungle justice inflicted on Deborah in Sokoto: there’s no punishment for blasphemy in the Qur’an. Several scholars have affirmed this.
If you derive the inspirational strength of your faith from the cold-blooded murder of people who hurt your emotions with their words, you’re not a human; you’re a wild, murderous beast!
If we go by the logic of Muslims who get bent out of shape because of blasphemy, most of us Muslims would be guilty of blasphemy in Christianity, the other proselytizing faith in Nigeria. We routinely say Jesus isn’t the son of God, that he’s merely a prophet of Allah. That’s blasphemy in Christianity.
We say Jesus wasn’t crucified, which vitiates the core of the Christian faith. That’s blasphemy in Christianity. We say the modern Bible is a corruption of the original one. That’s blasphemy in Christianity.
Christians would also be guilty of blasphemy in Judaism in several of their theological claims. And all Abrahamic faiths would be guilty of blasphemy in polytheistic faiths, including in traditional African religions. Should people die for every verbal indiscretion they utter that hurts our feelings? Where do we draw the line in a religiously plural society like Nigeria?