The suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, finds himself embroiled in controversy due to his management of the Naira redesign policy and several other policies that have drawn strong criticism from his detractors over the years.
Recall that he was unceremoniously removed from office on June 9, 2023, by President Bola Tinubu barely a year to the completion of his second term which is expected to expire by 2024.
Whilst the official narrative of the government was that his removal was due to ongoing investigations in the office of the central bank, there were no further details explaining what the investigations were about.
Findings however revealed that of the major issues contributing to Emefiele’s suspension is believed to be his handling of the naira redesign policy.
While his argument was that the policy would enhance the security features of the Naira, it was marred by allegations of mismanagement and poor implementation, drawing significant criticism from both experts and the public.
Speculations surrounding his political ambitions also raised concerns about his dedication to his role as CBN Governor.
Emefiele even went as far as going to court to get an order confirming his eligibility to run for office. Though he eventually did not run for office, the damage had already been done.
Another contending factor was his handling of the forex policies, Nigeria’s exchange rate policy got him low marks amongst the financial and business class.
Under Emefiele, Nigeria also experienced the widest exchange rate disparity between the naira and dollar falling to as high as N305/$1.
He also rationed forex for personal and business travel allowances and limited spending on naira and dollar cards approved. These were all in a bit to control forex demand, which many thoughts were a wrong move.
Another controversial policy aimed at controlling forex demand was the ban on 41 items, which prohibited access to foreign exchange for the importation of certain goods.
This policy aimed to promote local production and protect domestic industries.
However, it drew criticism from businesses and consumers alike, as it led to shortages, price hikes, and disruptions in the supply chain for essential goods.
Many argued that the ban disproportionately affected small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and hindered economic growth in the long run.
During Emefiele’s tenure as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the country experienced significant expansions in its money supply.
While some of these measures were intended to stimulate the economy in response to fiscal pressures, critics argue that they were marked by poor implementation and nepotism.
The prolonged implementation of intervention funds, surpassing the provisions of Ways and Means, and the significant increase in the money supply may have negatively impacted the CBN’s balance sheet.
Revealing these issues through the release of audited accounts could potentially undermine foreign investor confidence in the country.
However, some critics contend that if Emefiele had chosen to release the audited accounts, the exposure of the problems could have prompted the government to take early action.