President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted for the first time to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele’s presidential ambition, saying his fate would be determined by the apex bank’s board of directors on whether his actions have fallen foul of the laws.
Clamour for Emefiele’s resignation had mounted when news broke that N100 million presidential nomination and expression of interest form of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, party had been procured for him.
A Nigerian court sitting in Abuja had dismissed his request to not be prevented from contesting for the presidential ticket of any political party in the February 2023 elections.
The suit was seeking to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the country’s attorney general from disqualifying him from pursuing his presidential ambition.
In an interview with Bloomberg, asked if he was concerned about the debate around the central bank’s independence following Emefiele’s interest in running for president, Buhari replied: “The CBN governor is appointed by the president. But this appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Ultimately, it will be for the CBN’s board of directors to determine whether the CBN governor’s actions have fallen foul of the laws in place to ensure he can most effectively carry out his duties.”
The President spoke on the performance of CBN Governor “but there is a subtext to the accusations. Because the governor follows a model outside of the economic orthodoxy, he is labelled political. But the orthodoxy has proved wrong time and again. Instead, the governor is following an alternative economic model that puts people at the heart of policy. Nigeria should be free to choose its development model and how to construct our economy, so it functions for Nigerians.”
On why his administration was not heeding the call by IMF, World Bank, and many leading economists to remove the fuel subsidy and unify the exchange rate, Buhari said subsidy removal was becoming increasingly untenable.
“Most western countries are today implementing fuel subsidies. Why would we remove ours now? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. What our western allies are learning the hard way is what looks good on paper and the human consequences are two different things. My government set in motion plans to remove the subsidy late last year. After further consultation with stakeholders, and as events unfolded this year, such a move became increasingly untenable.
“Boosting internal production for refined products shall also helps. Capacity is due to step up markedly later this year and next, as private players and modular refineries (Dangote Refinery, BUA Group Refinery, Waltersmith Refinery) come on board.
“The exchange rate is still susceptible to external shocks that can suddenly and severely affect Nigerian citizens. As we step up domestic production – both in fuel (enabled by PIA) and food (agricultural policies) – the inflationary threat shall diminish, and we can move toward unification.”