Almost everyone anticipated that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, would resign and flee the country before President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s inauguration. It was obvious that he would be one of the first individuals that Tinubu would fire after he criticised the current monetary policy during his inaugural speech. For some reason, however, Emefiele believed that he would be spared but this did not happen. On 9 June he was suspended from his position and now he risks incarceration.
The Department of State Security (DSS) then announced that it had taken him into detention for ‘investigative reasons.’ The intelligence service is reportedly investigating Emefiele for money laundering, terrorism financing, and the misappropriation of funds. If he is convicted, each of these charges could result in him remaining in prison for the remainder of his life.
As the CBN governor, Emefiele committed two grievous errors that may have contributed to his current tribulations. The first was his bid to participate in the ruling All Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential primaries last year which were ultimately won by Tinubu. His second mortal sin was instituting the demonetisation policy that nearly paralysed the economy, which many believed was intended to undermine Tinubu’s presidential ambitions.
However, Emefiele’s suspension has raised concerns about the central bank’s independence. His predecessor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was similarly suspended in 2014 by the then president, Goodluck Jonathan, over allegations of financial recklessness. The courts refused to reverse his sacking so no-one expects that Emefiele will return to his position. Folashodun Shonubi (b.1962), who has been appointed interim CBN governor, is likely to complete Emefiele’s term.
Various individuals have been identified as potential candidates who Tinubu is contemplating as Emefiele’s long-term replacement. One of the names being circulated about is, Tokunbo Abiru, a former bank managing director who is now a Senator representing Lagos. Another is Wale Edun who is a longtime ally of Tinubu and an investment banker.
This week, President Tinubu will inaugurate the new National Assembly. Despite extensive consultations with lawmakers to garner their support for his preferred candidates for the positions of Senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives, there is still a high risk that members will rebel against Tinubu and vote for alternative candidates. This could pave the way for a tumultuous relationship between the Presidency and the National Assembly.This excerpt is taken from our Nigeria Politics & Security weekly intelligence report. Click here to receive a free sample copy. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for subscription details.