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Current Economic Woes Have Vindicated Emefiele – Agbor Stakeholders Forum

The Agbor Stakeholders Forum (ASF) has said that considering the state of the country’s economy at this point in time, it is now obvious that their brother, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Goodwin Emefiele, is a hero after all and not the villain he is being painted to be by the current administration of President Bola Tinubu.

In a press statement signed by Kanene Kachikwu, the group argued that while in office, Emefiele pushed the envelope and introduced innovative ideas that stabilized the Naira and made the country conducive for farmers, investors and others.

The group said: “As we stated in our release in early January, Mr Emefiele is an economist and a thoroughbred banker, who helped to found and build one of the biggest banks in Africa today. He was already the CEO of the bank when he was called up for national duty as CBN governor. It was an appointment based on merit and not a favour to him.

“We posit that in the fullness of time, history will preserve his records as one of the most competent and most impactful governors ever to manage the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“But the jury is already out. In less than one year after he was forcefully and illegally yanked off his tenured position; in just nine months of this administration, the economy has unhinged and all indices are on a free fall.”

Arguing that Emefiele was the mainstay of the Buhari economy, the group remarked: “We make bold to say that Emefiele was the pillar and mainstay of the Muhammadu Buhari’s era. A cursory review of the annual reports of the CBN from 2014 to 2023 shows in bold relief, the enormous economic interventions enacted by Emefiele and his team over this period. We are proud to state that no other head of the apex bank has put up this quantum of transformational work.

“As CBN governor, his first task was to curb frivolous importation of commodities Nigeria can produce locally. He restricted foreign exchange on those items ( 44 of them). With the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, Emefiele never allowed the naira to float and flail helplessly against the currencies of developed economies of the world, as President Tinubu and the current CBN governor are doing today, knowing that the naira can never survive in such free market competition.

“Emefiele allowed measured devaluation while he ensured that the bank directly catalysed production in agriculture, manufacturing, medium and small scale industries and even the entertainment industry, to name a few. He deployed massive development finance in the forms of specialised loans and fundings.”

Explaining how Emefiele kept the economy afloat, the group said: “From 2014 till his ouster in 2023, Emefiele’s CBN unleashed a slew of direct development finance initiatives across various sectors of the economy. The idea is to eschew the usual lip service paid to production and mobilize productive people and ventures directly. Some of the sectors impacted are: agriculture, industrial/real sector, MSMEs, health services, energy/airlines, state governments entertainment etc

“One of the numerous agric initiatives, the Anchor Borrowers Scheme (ABS), supported about 4.5m smallholder farmers; cultivated over 6 million hectares with over 21 agricultural commodities across the 36 states of the country and the FCT. This is monumental and there are verifiable records on this in the public domain.

“This is just one of about half a dozen schemes in agriculture. It’s on record that within this period modern rice milling plants in Nigeria increased from seven to about 72 across the country.
Large-scale investors and even state governments were incentivized to participate in rice and wheat production.

“By 2018, Nigeria’s food import bill had dropped sharply by about 82%, from over $3 billion to less than a billion dollars. Emefiele’s rigour was particularly noticeable in rice and wheat production where import bills decreased by 98% and 95% respectively.

“The CBN under Emefiele dedicated N1 trillion to Real Sector Facility (RSF) loans which helped to galvanize about 255 real sector projects. There were funds for agro-processing, mining and service industries. One notable outcome was the springing up of about 42 fertiliser-blending plants. This crashed the price of fertiliser.

“Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) is another development finance initiative introduced in 2018 by Emefiele and his team to rescue high-end infrastructure projects. It is remarkable that the Lagos State Redline and Blueline rail projects got a combined lifeline of N136 billion to ensure their completion. These loans are still outstanding.

“We can say that without interventions like this, the LASG Blue and Redlines rail projects may not have been completed today. Other states like Oyo, Ogun and Imo are on record to have accessed DCRR for their critical infrastructure.

“In MSMEs, among the direct interventions of the CBN is the Creative Industry Finance Initiative (CIFI). This allowed funding access for 355 enterprises in fashion, music, movie production, movie distribution, software development and Information Technology.

A few of the Nollywood movies produced under this scheme include Yeku, The Legend of Ininkpi; Tiwa’s Baggage and Damaged Goods. There’s CBN’s Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) among numerous other interventions for the youth.

“Following the ravages of COVID-19 in 2020, CBN made direct intervention in Nigeria’s healthcare sector through the Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF). A total of 135 health projects were financed. About 34 in Pharmaceuticals, and 84 in hospitals among other healthcare service projects.

“The bank assisted in the acquisition of dozens of equipment in hospitals across the country. Some of these are Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines (MRI), CT Scanners and oncological machines.

“In energy and airline sectors, the CBN made far-reaching development finance interventions known as Power and Airline Intervention Facilities (PAIF), which helped to catalyse development in electricity distribution companies, generating companies and the Transmission Company of Nigeria. CBN broke the lock jam that trailed the metering of Nigerians through its National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP). It also enabled 17 firms known as Metering Assets Providers (MAP).

“In airlines, the CBN under Emefiele created long-term loans through deposit money banks to support airlines achieve their maintenance obligations.

“What we have highlighted above, are just a few of over 100 different different development finance initiatives the Emefiele CBN was coordinating to keep Nigeria productive. Discerning bankers and economists will agree that this is unprecedented in the annals of Nigeria’s central banking.
No other CBN governor ever put such a volume of work and rigour into channelling development finance to productive sectors of the economy in Nigeria.

“It needs to be noted that all these were achieved regardless of the fact that Emefiele served during a very difficult time and environment. First, President Muhammadu Buhari had a clear vision about the economic model he wanted. His outlook is nationalistic with compassion for the citizens of Nigeria. For Buhari, it was Nigeria first and not the World Bank or the IMF. So there was a broad policy outline.

“Of course, it is common knowledge that as a former general, his style tended towards command and control. There were also around him, many primordial centrifugal forces pulling in different directions.

Numerous other challenges Emefiele had to surmount, included: the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 which disrupted the entire world systems, the unabating insecurity in Nigeria, which includes banditry, organised Boko Haram/ISWAP terror groups and rising separatist tendencies, debilitating flooding washing away farmlands, dangers of insipient climate change, the Russian-Ukraine war, and not the least, large scale economic sabotage like crude oil theft, massive smuggling and forex arbitraging, among others.

“We, Members of the AGBOR STAKEHOLDERS FORUM (ASF) have taken time to highlight some of these things in order to put the lie to the massive witch-hunt and political vendetta arrayed against our brother and kinsman by President Tinubu in spite of his impeccable and dedicated service to his motherland, Nigeria.
“As we have said several times, Godwin Emefiele’s offence is accepting to carry out the Naira redesign policy of Buhari. Buhari wanted a last-minute face-saving gambit in the general elections. He wanted to ensure the integrity of the February 25 Presidential Election which had slipped out of his control.
“He knew some candidates had warehoused humongous cash to buy votes and buy the presidency. Ironically, the APC candidate, Bola Tinubu and APC governors led by Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna who were primary suspected riggers fought the currency redesign policy of President Buhari up to the Supreme Court. Now that the elections are over and APC managed to smash and grab the diadem, President Tinubu seems to have sworn to punish Emefiele for daring to seek to impede his bid to be president.”

In conclusion, the group said: “Since Tinubu was sworn in, Emefiele has been the number one target of the president. He was detained for over six months, he has been investigated by the DSS, EFCC and a Special Investigator. Yet no serious misdemeanours or graft case has been levelled against Emefiele.

The current case, after about half a dozen charges have been thrown out by various courts, is that he forged the president’s signature to procure $6.2m to pay international election observers.

“We, ASF are proud to say that if for about nine years as CBN governor, the only misdemeanour found in our brother is a forgery of the president’s signature during the 2023 elections, then Emefiele must be a saint indeed. Does a corrupt CBN governor need to forge any signatures to covet millions of dollars over nine years?

“But no such monies have been found on him or his immediate family and friends. The sum in question ($6.2m) was never traced to his account nor was he in charge of elections monitoring. So who got the money?

“They sing about N23 trillion “ways and means” funds created by Emefiele, and we challenge them to tell Nigerians how much loans and ‘ways and means’ funds they have procured in just nine months. We know that someday, the whole truth about the trial of Emefiele shall be revealed for all to see.

“Meanwhile, if half of the energy devoted to hounding Emefiele had been channelled to catching crude oil thieves, Nigeria’s economy wouldn’t be in the free fall that it is today. About 80% of Nigeria’s crude oil is still being stolen, according to former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. We all know the oil thieves. Why is this not being investigated? Why are they not apprehended?

“Nigeria has gone from an importer of refined oil products to an importer of crude oil as well. What happened to our crude oil? Why is this not being investigated?

“Finally, we aver that our brother should be courted and consulted to help the Tinubu administration succeed instead of the ongoing mindless persecution. And we wager that no other government official in Nigeria can undergo the scrutiny our brother has been put through. Not even the president.”

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