May 19, 2022
  • May 19, 2022

A joke taken too far, By Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

By on May 8, 2022 0

Section 9 of the CBN Act makes it very clear that the CBN Governor simply cannot choose to run for elective office while retaining office. In any case, he must first obtain the approval of the CBN Board of Directors, which is not the case here. He could of course choose to resign to pursue his ambition. For this, Article 11(3) of the CBN law obliges him to give “a written notice of at least three months to the president of his intention to do so”.

In November 2017, it emerged that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, had significant interests in an offshore company registered in Bermuda, which held an account with UBS in London. UBS is a multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland.

Disclosures published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in the Paradise Papers revealed that Mr Emefiele had owned 49% of Oviation Asset Management since 2009 and had been a director of the company since January 2013.

According to The Guardian London newspaper, “Oviation was part of a structure importing two jets via the Isle of Man. The latest purchase, a $50 million Gulfstream G550, arrived in November 2015. It replaced a $33 million Gulfstream G450, imported in 2013.”

15 months before the importation of the second Gulfstream, in June 2014, Mr. Emefiele became Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In this capacity, he also runs The Mint, which prints Nigerian currency.

Section 9 of the CBN Act 2007 requires the Governor of the Central Bank and his deputies to “devote their full time to the service of the Bank and, during their term of office, shall not engage in no total or partial activity”. -full-time employment or vocation, whether paid or unpaid, except for charitable causes which may be determined by the board and which do not conflict with their full-time duties. »

This prohibition imposes three constraints on the governor of the CBN: one substantive, another procedural and a third ethical. In essence, it prohibits him from moonlighting in any other job or occupation, paid or unpaid. Procedurally, he needs the approval of the CBN board before assuming a role outside the bank. This entails a duty of full and honest disclosure on the part of the CBN Governor. As an (additional) ethical standard, the law prevents the CBN Governor from placing himself in a position that conflicts with his full-time duties.

As the head of a “public company” (which is the CBN), Mr. Emefiele, as Governor of the CBN, is also subject to the code of conduct for senior officials contained in the 5and Appendix to the Nigerian Constitution, which imposes standards of conduct on it regarding the disclosure of assets, the acceptance of gifts and donations, and the holding of interests abroad.

For Mr. Emefiele, it seems that these standards are ornaments of convenience. Three years after taking office as CBN governor, his interests in Oviation were still intact. Contacted by The Guardian for an explanation in November 2017, Mr Emefiele claimed to have “given instructions for his shares to be returned” to his former employers, a Nigerian bank, in 2014. For a central banker, this claim shows either a cavalier tendency or habit of casuistry. The first questions his professionalism and the second is a question of character.

He implicated the CBN in schemes and scams that almost certainly violate Section 34 of the CBN Act; from taking over the management of the National Theater (despite ongoing litigation) to becoming a willing instrument for the persecution of #EndSARS protesters. Prime time in a Feb. 21 op-ed, he fears his tenure at the CBN will be remembered for deliberately “ripping up” the CBN Act guardrails.

On or about May 4, Mr. Emefiele was a guest of President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidency. The next day, some characters Claiming to be armed, Niger Delta activists backed Mr Emefiele for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket, promising to lay down their arms if the party handed him the ticket. It’s too early to tell if these two seemingly unrelated developments had anything to do with what happened next.

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After months of speculation and hide and seek, it emerged on May 6 that a Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and two other shadowy organizations had purchased forms for Mr Emefiele to run for president on the ticket. from APC. Her political organization is branded “#Meffy2023”. The next day, May 7, Mr. Emefiele claims that he awaits “the divine intervention of God”, which he hopes to receive “in the coming days”.

Mr. Emefiele has been nothing if not consistent in his convenient attitude to the rules. As Governor of the CBN, he maintained a ruinous regime of multiple exchange rates, supporting a deliberate scheme of profitable arbitrage, prone to cronyism at his discretion and insider abuse. The result is his version of “Farmers Earnestly Yearn for Emefiele” (FEYE).

He implicated the CBN in schemes and scams that almost certainly violate Section 34 of the CBN Act; from taking over the management of the National Theater (despite ongoing litigation) to becoming a willing instrument for the persecution of #EndSARS protesters. Prime time in a Feb. 21 op-ed, he fears his tenure at the CBN will be remembered for deliberately “ripping up” the CBN Act guardrails.

In a country where consequences follow wrongdoing, Mr. Emefiele will already be in prison. In Nigeria, he aspires to the presidency.

Whether Mr. Emefiele can run for a political party’s presidential ticket, while still serving as CBN governor, is both moral and legal. Prime time addressed the former, pointing out that “the operational and administrative autonomy granted to the central bank by its enabling legislation was precisely intended to protect the governor from political influence”.

The Governor of Ondo State, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Rotimi Akérédoluputs it even more clearly in a statement issued the same day that Mr. Emefiele collected the form to fulfill his aspiration: “it is difficult to imagine that a person who occupies the exalted and sensitive office of Governor of the CBN is this cheeky to realize his ambition.

In the end, Mr Emefiele appears to be relaxed about having the fate of his ambition decided by a panel of Nigerian judges. He continues with the arrogance of a man who has made sure that as boss of The Mint he can issue enough tickets to buy any number of judges marching towards whatever he wants. If he ends up with a bloody nose, it will be just dessert for a man who clearly believes that anything can be bought and sold.

A partisan politician who seeks votes while hanging on as CBN Governor is spoiling more than the Bank’s statutory independence. It is inconceivable that he could retain his independence while running for the presidency. On the same May 6 when he collected his presidential forms, “news of Emefiele’s presidential candidacy sent the naira plummeting to an all-time high”, confirming that his ambition is no ordinary.

But it is, even more, a legal question. Certainly, Mr. Emefiele, as an adult citizen of Nigeria, has the right to stand for any position he desires. Two of his predecessors preceded him in elective politics. Clement Isong, the second Governor of CBN from 1967 to 1975 became the first elected Governor of the former Cross-River State in October 1979. Chukwuma Soludo, who served as Governor of CBN from 2004 to 2009, is currently Governor of Anambra State, having been elected on November 6, 2021. Dr. Isong and Prof. Soludo stood for election after their terms expired.

Section 9 of the CBN Act makes it very clear that the CBN Governor simply cannot choose to run for elective office while retaining office. In any case, he must first obtain the approval of the CBN Board of Directors, which is not the case here. He could of course choose to resign to pursue his ambition. For this, Article 11(3) of the CBN law obliges him to give “a written notice of at least three months to the president of his intention to do so”.

Thus, article 9 of the CBN law prohibits Mr. Emefiele from engaging in political activities and article 11(3) obliges him to give three months’ notice of resignation. Under the law, he should have resigned at least three months before the primaries in which he must be a candidate. The possibility that such advice from the CBN Governor could be concealed during this long political season would require terminal skills in political self-immolation.

But, as with his stake in an offshore company, despite being banned from doing so, Mr Emefiele would like it to go away as another inconsequential encounter with a troublesome guardrail. The presidency, however, is ultimately about safeguards. As Lincoln would have said and many others have since shown, it’s a test of character.

In the pursuit of his audacious project, Mr. Emefiele did not encounter any railings that he did not want to destroy. For those who wish to hand him the keys to the presidency right now and in this way, Governor Akeredolu’s words bear repeating: This is a joke taken too far.

In the end, Mr Emefiele appears to be relaxed about having the fate of his ambition decided by a panel of Nigerian judges. He continues with the arrogance of a man who has made sure that as boss of The Mint he can issue enough tickets to buy any number of judges marching towards whatever he wants. If he ends up with a bloody nose, it will be just dessert for a man who clearly believes that anything can be bought and sold.

Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, lawyer and teacher, can be reached at [email protected]




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