Incompetence, Impunity and Inordinate Ambition Brought Us Here
By Sesugh Akume

How we Got Here

As of the time Godwin Emefiele took office, the official naira/US dollar exchange rate was N155/$1, so he said himself in his inaugural speech, but as of Thursday 23 September, it closed at N413.63 at the Investor & Exporter forex (foreign exchange) window (a 166.86% increase). Inflation, he said, was at 7.9% (a 6-year low at the time) but grew under him to 18.17% as of last March, according to the CBN itself. Bad, inconsistent and contradictory policies; haphazard implementation, politics, incompetence, illegality, impunity brought us here. A few illustrations should suffice:

A Culture of Anyhowness Where Professionalism is Required

Section 1(3) of the Act says the Bank is independent, but it is in reality everything but that. The problem lies in the Act itself, and wrong precedent of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s removal by then president, Goodluck Jonathan, an unprecedented violation anywhere, but Emefiele has taken his subservience to a ridiculous level. He supported Buhari’s controversial closure of land borders in the south, a policy Buhari was to later eat humble pie and admit was ill advised. That was none of Emefiele’s business. Border closure or not is not his role or the Bank.

Approaching the Courts

It’s to avoid this issue left to speculation and all manner of analyses and opinions expressed, without a uniform definite stand, that we approached the Federal High Court. Abuja, in Sesugh Akume v. Central Bank of Nigeria & Godwin Emefiele, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1051/2021, with strong corroborating evidence on oath by my good friends Samson Galadima Simon, and Tosin Adeoti, global economy watchers and well-regarded financial sector experts and analysts, inviting the court to kindly look at what is before it and determine these issues once and for all, so that they’re no longer up for speculation or opinion depending on where/how one leans.

The Governance Benefits of this Effort

The suit also seeks to raise some broader questions and challenge some of the numerous inconsistencies in the Act itself. For instance, section 52 says the CBN and its officers cannot be sued for their incompetence in doing or failing to do their jobs, but does this include when they break the law also? Section 11 states when officers shall cease to hold office for violating the Act (not the focus of this suit). How then can the court determine whether there is a violation or not when the very Act says they can’t be sued in the first place? If any provisions of the Act are non-justiciable, as there are in the Constitution, and the Bank with its officers have immunity from prosecution, why then do we have the sections in the first place? What incentives or consequences are there in obeying or violating them?

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