The Presidency appears to have passed a vote of confidence on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, following the moves by some members of the House of Representatives to remove him from office. A Presidency source said, at the weekend, that the Federal Government has confidence in Emefiele to see the country, alongside top government officials in the economic sector, out of recession.
A motion sponsored by Hon. Ali Isa (Balanga/Billiri constituency, Gombe State), titled, “Call for investigation of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s forex policies”, last week, had called for the sack of Emefiele and his team over the fate of the Naira. The call was supported by Hon. Mojeed Alabi, representing Ede North/Ede South/Egbedero/Ejigbo (Osun State) and Hon. Wale Raji, representing Epe (Lagos), among other lawmakers in the House. A Presidency official, reacting to the moves, told Sunday Vanguard that President Muhammadu Buhari “is far from convinced that Emefiele is responsible for the currency crisis or the economic recession”. “The CBN Governor briefs the President regularly on the situation, on the inflow of dollars every month and how much is being demanded by importers. The President has seen the progression and regression over the years and how the scarcity of forex is causing the sharp drop in the value of the Naira. He believes it is very unreasonable to sack Emefiele and CBN management,” said the official, who declined being named because he was not mandated to officially speak on the issue. He added: “When oil price was $120 per barrel and we had reserves of over $60 billion, the Naira was doing well. That was when we should have checked the import dependency to grow the local economy. We did not do that. The President is not convinced that now that crude oil price is less than $50 and production has dropped drastically because of militant activities, Emefiele should be blamed for the falling Naira”. According to the source, the President believes Emefiele has done his best in the difficult circumstances that Nigeria has found itself. It was learnt that the CBN has made many interventions since the crisis started to stabilise the finances of states and the Federal Government. A source at the Ministry of Finance said the CBN, acting as lender of last resort, has provided loans of over N420 billion to several states to pay workers’ salaries in the last two years, outside their statutory allocations. Each of the 36 states has also collected N10 billion for infrastructure development, while the N350 billion “stimulus spending” recently announced by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, was provided by the Central Bank. “Everything you hear about agric revolution in rice is from the CBN. Kebbi alone is on track to produce one million metric tonnes this year under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme. So far, 14 states have collected huge sums for this programme to pursue other crops”, the official said.