Lest We Tar The CBN With Emefiele’s Brush

By Isidore Emeka Uzoatu.

Recent developments in the country’s economic sector have become causes for concern to all patriots. That is, if that word still has a meaning in this space. O yes. For today patriotism in this nation has come to tally in meaning with Fela Kuti’s definition of its citizenship. In Big Blind Country (BBC) – one of his unreleased songs before his demise – the confirmed Abami Eda so succinctly reeled out the suffering – nay smiling – one always passes through to make the mark.

And that was back then when it was still taken for granted that all citizens are patriots. But this is neither here nor there these days. By implication, to be a patriot now, one needed to proverbially pass through the eye of the needle. Not unlike it’ll take the wealthy to make the Christian heaven. What with the way, manner and means our public wares are now seen as a cake only worthy of sharing by the few of us in whose care they are left to manage on our behalf.

Dating back to our independence from Britain in 1960, the rate at which our commonwealth has been frittered away by its supposed minders has been nothing less than calamitous. Overnight the departure of the colonials opened the gates to a nouveau riche that saw it as a stepping stone to untold wealth. The holding of a public office was immediately seen as an invitation to chop.

This was not helped by the army takeover(s) of 1966. In fact, it’s arguable that they were actually the last straw that broke the back of our national accountability. As though the soldiers, overwhelmed by the transfer from their barracks to the national till, vowed to make the most of the privilege. To make matters worse, they didn’t let go till 1979 after sundry other palace and hut coups d’etat – discounting the abortive.

Any wonder they could only allow the Second Republic led by Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) just for an election cycle. Only that time around, as if to opine their ambition, they opted to return one of their own General Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Boasting to stay in power perpetually, they only lasted for sixteen years.

Finally, when it appeared the wind had gone out of the wings of the contraption – following the rise of non-military presidents – the men (and women) in khaki returned. This time it was via General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Hyped on a la Obasanjo on account of his previous occupation of the post as a military leader, he was to try his best on the job. And now the debate is already on regarding how good enough it was.

Anyway, we cannot but thank the stars that now a hardcore civilian is back at the mantle. With the enthronement of the late Umaru Yar’adua after OBJ, the nation no doubt breathed some fresh air. A development that was enhanced after the inevitable baton exchange to Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ). With Tinubu’s ascendancy, it’s hoped that we shall once more join the committee of nations in gaining all the perquisites accruable from a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

And are things not happening?

Unless one were to be insensitive, the transformation the country has undergone ever since the coming into office of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) has been quite enormous, to say the least. Put mildly, the volume of water that has had to pass underneath our bridge of nationhood ever since has been nothing short of staggering. And this right from Inauguration Day.

What with the instant removal of the erstwhile subsidies previous regimes purportedly spent on petroleum products. Overnight our yearly expenditure plans have ceased to be mortgages in budget clothing, waiting on our children. Once more, government is seizing the opportunity to see to it that our resources are put to the best uses possibile for the greatest number.

Ever since, the labour that has been expended righting old wrongs cannot but leave one in a state of wonder. In virtually all facets of our nationhood, efforts are on ground to recover all the years eroded by the rampaging floods of our uniformed messiahs. A situation that has left the nation so dishevelled for immediate comfort. Alas, our hopes are literally renewed for a rosy future to come.

Nowhere else is this made manifest as in the economy. With the floating of our national currency the Naira, the nation can now be said to be astride the tenuous periphery between being and becoming. From the consumerist ideology that has kept it at the rock bottom of the exchange rate regime, all hands are now on deck for its spirited return to where it used to be.

Which is where the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) wades into the tale. In fact, it’s believed by many that our apex bank had never been this relevant in our body politic. Ever since a certain Mr Loynes, an adviser to the Bank of England’s views and recommendations formed the basis for the draft resolution that established it on the 1st of July, 1959. And never before has their job been seen as so pivotal to the success or otherwise of our nation.

Gratefully, since the onset of this regime, its staff – from the governor Olayemi Cardoso to the cleaners – have not rested on their disparate oars. Most recently, in a move to properly reposition the bank, more than three hundred staff have been relieved of their duties. This includes up to a double-digit of directors. Talk of house cleaning.

Though the immediate reasons for the move are yet unknown, it can be rightly guessed that the move is inevitable given the immediate past of the organization. This is well summed up in the many travails of the immediate-past CEO of the bank Goodwin Emefiele. As it stands, the government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a 26-count charge hanging over his head like once upon a sword on Damocles’.

These range from employing surrogates to obtain shares in new generation banks, forgery, breach of trust, misappropriation to terrorism. Also in the list are abuse of office, irregular allocation of $4.5 billion and £2.8billion while in office. Also, he is accused of corruptly receiving funds, conferring advantages on associates and allocating foreign exchange without bid.

Already, the court has ordered that he forfeits the sum of $1.4million to the government.

It all dates back to the day the otherwise erudite banker opted to run for the presidency while still in office. Not only did he flout a garage of vehicles acquired for the purpose, he also went to live TV to challenge whomsoever the move didn’t rub in well with to enter the ring for a joust. No mean threat, I dare add, to come from a guy who trained in Harvard and Stanford.

Though his comeuppance is taking some time to come, it can be surmised that it’s a part of it that is currently visiting the CBN. Never mind the allegation of ethnic intentions by conspiracy theorists. There is no doubt that while all these were ongoing some underhand employment was not going on. Also, some of these heists must have been carried out by favourite surrogates who left on the job may yet ensue another chain reaction of graft.

However, while we are thinking of those hired in the prelude to the looting, it’ll only be the most charitable of the powers to spare a thought or two about the many who lost their jobs back then. Like has surfaced in many cases, some were sacked because they proved stumbling blocks to the graft feast.

Apart from the CBN, this also happened in the banks and all other sundry financial institutions that fall under the CBN’s immediate purview. Like is perceptible from the grapevine of the nation’s blue and black economies, many of these otherwise conscientious labourers in the vineyard of our economy are now left in the lurch for doing their utmost to see that things are done well.

Finally, it’s worth of reiteration that unless this is done, we may end up tarring those presently at the helm of affairs in the present CBN with the same brush as those that let the goats into our barn of yams. And viewed however, that tuber has since joined the enlarging menu of our exclusive national meals. All the more so given the Naira’s vigorous twerks to the beat of the Dollar’s Tshwala Bam.

Uzoatu lives in and writes from Onitsha, Anambra State.

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