As The CBN Gets A New Boss
It is a new dawn at the Central Bank of Nigeria as the Senate, the upper chamber of the National Assembly, screened and approved the nominees of President Bola Tinubu to pilot the affairs of the monetary institution. The President appointed the new Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, and four Deputy Governors to assist him in running the affairs of the Bank. They are Philip Ikeazor, Mohammad Sani Datti, Nnana Usoro, and Bala M. Bello. Their appointment came on the heels of the suspension and subsequent resignation of the former Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The former Acting Governor, Folashodun Shonubi, and the Deputy Governors namely Edward Adamu, Aishah Ahmad and Kingsley Obiora also resigned their appointments after the announcement of the new managers to pave the way for their screening, and eventual assumption of office.
The CBN in recent times has been in the eye of the storm following the former governor’s tenure in office. His foray into politics was contentious. If it could be recalled, the former governor was alleged to have procured a nomination form during the last political exercise of 2023 to contest for the presidency of the country. The move attracted the wrath of politicians and critical financial stakeholders who considered the move an aberration by a sitting governor of the Bank. Public outcry subsequently made him jettison the ambition. Ever since the Bank knew no peace. All its subsequent pronouncements and actions were tagged political.
Emefiele’s Naira redesign policy, a good initiative though, poorly implemented, revulsed Nigerians who felt humiliated, frustrated, lost businesses, and considered their monies confiscated. They were miffed, the anguish was visible and unbearable. That singular action turned people against the CBN. At the same time, the political class who felt the policy was targeted at them saw it as a vendetta for their opposition to his ill-fated political ambition. They never forgave him, and Nigerians equally called for his head.
As the Bank gets a new driver, it is hoped that the Naira, which is currently badly battered will start to regain its breath. It is also expected of the political class to allow the currency a fresh breath of air. The politicians have strangulated the Naira, and it needs strength. They are classically its problem and can still rescue it. They have lost faith in the Naira, our national identity, preferring to hold the dollar and other currencies as stores of value.
It is no gainsaying that the task ahead has been cut out for the new CBN governor, and Nigerians will be leveraging his pedigree as a financial technocrat to prove his mettle and rescue the domestic currency from its current travails. However, the job is not for Mr. Cardoso and his team alone, the fiscal authority must help the Naira to live. The government must come forward with policies to energize the economy.
The problem of the Naira is Nigeria’s overdependence on proceeds from oil. The opaquely riddled sector has been a curse rather than a blessing to the nation. Crude oil theft has remained unabated, oil subsidy a scam, and poor, yet unprivileged Nigerians, bore the brunt. Nigeria was also not producing to feed or export, but heavily reliant on importation of what it can produce and eat. The desire to diversify the economy has not been matched with action. The intractable insecurity challenge has consumed the food-producing belt of the country due to the repressive activities of bandits, and other ancillary issues that have eroded the potency and viability of the economy.
The new CBN Governor no doubt has a daunting task ahead of him. It is not a good time to be appointed for such an onerous job. The economy is challenged, and Nigerians are on the edge, frustrated, and forlorn, thus, the touted synergy and alignment of purpose by the fiscal and monetary authorities is more desirable now than before. Working at cross purposes to outdo each other will further hurt the economy.
Urgently desirable also is the solution to banditry. It has wreaked havoc on the economy and must be addressed now. It has taken too long. Foreign investors have taken flight, and even local counterparts have either shut down or relocated, forcing the economy to its knees. Equally desirable is an adequate, and not epileptic power supply. Most manufacturing firms have been operating under excruciating conditions, and the cost of alternative energy to remain in production is adding more pain, not to mention of scarcity of forex to procure materials and machinery.
The situation is overwhelming; thus, it is not a time to play politics, but for every hand to be on the deck to rescue Nigeria. No foreign investor will bring his/her hard-earned money to an unsafe economy. It is also imperative, and expedient, for the government to have respect for the independence of the CBN. The overbearing attitude of past administrations on the Bank was visibly nauseating which made stakeholders ask where the independence of the Central Bank is. As the government financial advisor, and banker, mandated to ensure and maintain price and financial stability, it should be left to perform its duties as it is best practised globally. Political interference would not give us a desirable central bank. Nigerians have lost confidence in the Bank considering happenings in and around the Bank lately, and it will assuage their feelings if this conundrum is resolved by these fresh appointments.
Ademola Oyetunji writes from Ibadan.