Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole and a coalition of civil society groups in the country yesterday condemned those calling for the sack of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, describing them as faceless manipulators of the Nigerian economy who are bent on wasting their time.
They stated that President Muhammadu Buhari would not be fooled by them into sacking the CBN governor.
Oshiomhole said the hiring and firing of the CBN governor is not a political decision because institutions such as the central bank are central to economic growth and development of any serious nation.
The governor argued that those angling for the sack of Emefiele were merely invisible hands who have continued to thwart the nation’s economic resources for their selfish interest.
The governor made the statement yesterday in Abuja during his visit to the National Universities Commission (NUC) to present a letter of recognition of the Edo University in Iyamho.
“If a governor is doing fine, his hiring and firing is not a matter that should be discussed by faceless Facebook manipulators, and by the time you unmask the people behind it, you will discover that they are palm wine drinkers,” he said.
Oshiomhole said with the challenge of running the economy undergoing a recession where there is limited inflow of foreign exchange, the government does not want to trigger a process that will lead to endless devaluation that will ultimately reduce the Nigerian naira to Zimbabwean dollar.
“President Buhari is not going to be fooled by people who want to have a regime where government is just an onlooker and allow the naira to become worthless and people are making money from speculation. So those guys are wasting their time,” he said.
The Edo State governor noted that the CBN governor was right in insisting on the 41 items that had been denied access to forex from the interbank forex market, adding that “people who have been feeding fat on our common patrimony, manipulating the exchange rate and moving money across boundaries are the speculators spreading the campaign for his sack”.
He explained that the country has a new federal government which won an election on the basis of the mantra of change and there are all kinds of people who have made money in this economy without contributing anything.
“We have a new federal government that has won election on the basis of change and there are all kinds of people who have made a lot of money from the economy without contributing anything by just playing on exchange rates and commercial papers.
“It is these speculators, because the CBN governor has been saying we cannot open the doors to all kinds of imports such as toothpicks, tomato paste and all sorts of things who have been feeding fat on our common patrimony, manipulating the exchange rate, moving money across borders, and taking advantage of electronic money transfers, that are behind these campaigns,” he said.
Oshiomhole added: “Of course there are some opportunistic elements, people who feel that if this man goes, I will get there and they are ready to go to any length to remove him.
“I think this government is making a point that the hiring and firing of CBN governors need not be a political decision, because we should respect institutions; the hiring and firing is not a decision by Facebook manipulators, and by the time you unmask the people behind it, you will discover that they are palm wine drinkers.
“I think the CBN governor is right, he is standing his grounds and those who are opposed to him are free to speak, but I know that President Buhari is not going to be fooled by people who want to see a regime where government is just an onlooker and allows our naira to become worthless and for people to make money from speculation, so those guys are wasting their time.”
Also, the executive committees of a coalition of civil society groups rose in defence of Emefiele and condemned the threat of a protest by “a shadowy, bogus and unscrupulous group parading itself as a civil society organisation”.
The civil society groups stated that the central bank governor was being persecuted for the policies on the implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN), restriction on foreign exchange allocation, reform of the bureau de change sub-sector, and refusal by the central bank to devalue the naira.
The groups also stated that the “phony” group threatening to hold a protest against Emefiele was not a civil society organisation and was therefore not recognised by the coalition of civil society groups in Nigeria.
In a statement yesterday, the coalition insisted that regardless of how this phony group tries to mask itself as a civil society organisation, an independent investigation had revealed that it was in fact a political organisation of paid agents and sponsored groups representing the interest of a certain geopolitical zone in the country.
The coalition revealed that the promoters of this group are persons who are known to be troublesome and have the capacity to disrupt the public peace.
The groups said they fully appreciate the difficulties and anxieties of many Nigerians given the present tough economic environment, but maintained that the situation was not caused by one man or one institution and considered it unfair for anyone or group to try to put the blame on only one person or organisation.
According to the coalition, relative to its peers, the Nigerian economy was not performing that badly.
“Among commodity-exporting economies, for instance, inflation, GDP growth and employment are far worse in countries like Zambia, Ghana, and Argentina with inflation rates of between 19-28 per cent. As a matter of fact, Brazil and Russia are in recession, while South Africa is struggling to record positive growth.
“These are all linked to the fall in commodity prices in the international market. Emefiele and the CBN have so far managed to keep inflation far below what has been recorded in many comparator countries,” the coalition said.
It insisted that the policies of the Emefiele-led CBN are aimed at protecting ordinary Nigerians from the destructive capitalistic instincts of a few speculators.
“Emefiele’s policies have truncated the rent-seeking ability of many of these economic parasites and saboteurs. And we believe it is for this singular reason that both Emefiele and the CBN are being vilified in the most unfair and disgraceful manner by a sponsored group of anarchists.
“Nigerians have been taken for a ride for too long. Our collective patrimony has been cornered by a few looters for too long. We can no longer stand idly by and watch these thieves, in collaboration with foreign neo-colonialists and imperialists, keep the masses of our people under perpetual bondage.
This is the time to free Nigeria and its people from the dirty hands and greedy mouths of a few,” the civil society groups added.
They stated that Emefiele’s detractors are aggrieved by his implementation of the BVN, which ensures that those who have looted the country’s resources and concealed them under various account names are detected.
“Given their inability to hide their identities these thieves have vowed to hound Emefiele for daring to destroy their criminal activities. May God never allow them to succeed,” the groups said.
They also noted that the list of 41 items not eligible for forex at the CBN did not go down well with Emefiele’s detractors, as the elite and business moguls had been depleting the country’s forex reserves by aggressively importing goods, which could be easily produced in Nigeria.
“By their action, these profiteers have killed jobs in Nigeria and created jobs abroad. They have exported prosperity abroad and imported poverty into their fatherland. But as long as their huge profit margins are guaranteed, they do not care.
What Emefiele and his team have done is to say that we can no longer import unemployment and export wealth out of Nigeria,” the groups explained.
The coalition also noted that Emefiele was being persecuted because of the reform of the BDC sub-sector that is being undertaken to ensure that genuine business people engage in the business and not serve as fronts for those who continuously loot the national treasury.
“Indeed these looters and their sponsors have used all sorts of guises to register several BDCs with which they drain foreign exchange from the CBN and use such to transfer their loot abroad. It is only in Nigeria that BDCs expect government (CBN) to give them foreign exchange before they do business,” they added.