LAGOS, Nigeria — A whirlwind of uncertainty swept across Nigeria’s financial sector on Friday following a contentious social media report claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari had granted Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, a study leave.
Both the Presidency and CBN have since denied the report, leaving stakeholders and the public in a state of confusion.
Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, responded to the swirling rumors on Friday, May 12, 2023, with a terse message: “If the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, has been granted study leave, supposedly, by President Muhammadu Buhari, this is unknown to us. It is also unknown to the President’s Secretariat, headed by the Chief of Staff.”
A source within the CBN corroborated Shehu’s denial, further complicating the narrative.
Nevertheless, another anonymous source from the Presidency hinted at the presence of an application from Emefiele seeking approval for overseas study leave.
The source was unable to confirm if President Buhari had granted the request.
“I heard the CBN Governor applied to the President for study leave, but I don’t know if the President has granted the application,” the source revealed.
Insiders close to Emefiele told our reporter that the CBN Governor had expressed to his aides his intention to serve out his second term as head of the apex bank, seemingly contradicting the reports of a potential study leave.
Earlier this week, Emefiele was actively present at the third biannual non-oil export summit in Lagos, where he underscored the importance of developing the non-oil sector for Nigeria’s economic growth.
Emefiele, who was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 and given a second term by Buhari in 2019, emphasized the need for Nigeria to balance its import-export ratio.
“Any nation that consumes more than it produces or imports more than it exports will fail as there will be no meaningful development,” he warned.
Emefiele’s current term runs until June 2024, and the recent rumors have cast a shadow over his remaining tenure.
The media outlet Sahara Reporters added fuel to the fire, noting that the Department of State Services, which once attempted to arrest Emefiele over undisclosed allegations, opposed the rumored study leave.
They argue it could potentially enable him to leave the country before a new government comes into power on May 29.