Godwin Emefiele, 60-year-old Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, is one of the presidential hopefuls whose ‘aspiration’ has become a surprise to some people, and admiration to some other people.
Some people were surprised when Emefiele’s name popped up among the presidential hopefuls. This class of people thought that as an experienced economist heading Nigeria’s apex bank, Emefiele should concentrate on his job of formulating monetary policies, controlling inflation, and managing other economic fluctuations, while championing innovation to ensure the nation’s economic and financial stability.
On the other hand, the people who see Emefiele as a strong candidate believe that with the remarkable successes of the programs and schemes initiated or being implemented by Emefiele; if as president of Nigeria he will not only expand them but will also apply his wealth of experience as a development finance expert to stimulate the economy via other economic programs that will reflect on local needs in line with global trends. This group of people always cite schemes like the anchor borrower program- which has successfully created economic linkages between smallholder farmers and reputable companies involved in the production and processing of key agricultural commodities and the COVID-19 intervention that has cushioned the adverse effects of COVID-19 on households and MSMEs. In the last five years, the CBN under Emefiele has disbursed over N114.09 billion to support the fertilizer industry- Nigeria had seven Fertilizer blending plants in 2016, and only four were operational. As of today, there were 62 functioning blending plants. These and many economic policies and progress are the ladders these people stand on to cheer Emefiele on, as a strong aspirant. There are reports that many farmers in the north, especially rice farmers have termed their successes as ‘Emefiele’.
Furthermore, political pundits are of the view that Emefiele’s candidature can be a very important political balancer for the APC ahead of the 2023 presidency game. Firstly, no camp in the Southwest will feel cheated with the Emefiele candidature since he directly doesn’t belong to any of them; but can be incorporated into any camp seamlessly. Secondly, Emefiele from Ika South, Agbor region of Delta State, SouthSouth Nigeria, can also be linked to the cousins of the Igbos in the Southeast. This will to some extent calm the nerves of the advocates of the Igbo presidency and achieve geopolitical equity. For example. Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency was a stabilizing force in the southeast’s politics and social order. Some political pundits believe that Emefiele, as president can also play that role, now that the Southeast is in agitation for the presidential seat.
The time has come for Emefiele to officially declare whether he will contest or not. This is very important to clear the air- politics or CBN Governor. If Emefiele will not contest- let him continue with his task as the driver of Nigeria’s monetary policies and other important roles of the CBN. However, if he decides to contest – this will be a big one in the field of the 2023 presidency game in the APC- already groups like the Emefiele Support Group and Arewa Alliance for the Presidency of Godwin Emefiele (AAPGE) have reached out to many quarters in the country campaigning for Emefiele. So what remains for Emefiele is political alliances, negotiation, and courting- this will be easy for him because of his privileged position. However, he also needs to understand that politics is not Development Finance. It is a game where a primary school dropout can teach or even ‘scold’ a Central Bank Governor!
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Abuja, [email protected], 08036070980