We wait to hear what the fallen former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele has to say on the lurid report of a probe of his years at the apex bank. The report was leaked on Friday and is the sensation in town. Emefiele himself is said to have perfected his bail conditions and has been released from prison custody. Whatever it is, we are sure of weeks of circus shows akin to that of Sambo Dasuki.
Meanwhile, all manner of epithets are today being used to describe Emefiele. The latest is the scathing attack on him by the Nigerian presidency. Unearthing virulent details of the Jim Obazee’s Report last Friday, the presidency descended on Emefiele like a cruel matador. Apart from telling us of the several unauthorized accounts he opened and the banks he covertly acquired for himself, the presidency suggested that, were Emefiele to have committed the alleged theft of public funds in China, he would have faced execution. The China reference is very instructive. Only a few years ago, China executed two officials from its eastern cities upon conviction for corruption. They were Xu Maiyong, a former vice-mayor of Hangzhou, and Jiang Renjie, vice-mayor of Suzhou, who were both put to death after the rejection of their appeals. Xu and Jiang were accused of stealing about 300m yuan ($46m; £29m) through embezzlement and receiving bribes, crimes that have become regular occurrences in Nigerian government. In China, the corruption these crimes that have become commonplace in Nigeria are the main causes of public discontent leading to hundreds of officials being convicted yearly.
The only thing we remember vividly is that, as Nigerians, we have travelled this Tinubu government demonization route before. At the end of the day, it was a barren and lean road that led to nowhere. When Major General Muhammadu Buhari forcefully took over the reins of power in 1983, sending elected the civilian government scampering and groveling for its under-wears in the dark, Buhari leveled very crowd-pulling allegations against the Shehu Shagari-led government. One of such was that Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) Chief AMA Akinloye had his photograph embossed on champagne bottles, as an underscore of the profligacy of the government of the Second Republic. Fast-forward to 1999 when the military was handing over the reins of power, men in khaki had sufficiently engrafted their names in halls of infamy. Allegations of enriching themselves with Nigeria’s money and mis-governance were so rife that the allegations against the Shagari government were child’s play.
Buhari cyclostyled that same propagandist condemnation when he took over government in 2015. Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser (NSA) was so dirtily tar-brushed that no one would buy him for a farthen. He was accused of colossal theft of Nigeria’s national patrimony funneled into several individuals for the prosecution of Nigeria’s 2015 elections. A viral video soon emerged of an alleged dalliance with a girl in detention. Till today, Dasuki roams about a free man and after the ice of power arrogance had thawed, no reference is ever made to the Sokoto prince any longer.
It will seem that immediately governments in Nigeria take over, they look for scapegoat to serve as escapism for their governmental inadequacies. Right now, there are massive grumblings in Nigeria. Hope is turning into despair. It was so bad that, at the public presentation of a book entitled, APC and transition politics in Abuja last week, former Ekiti state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, told the APC chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, to be bold enough to report the correct state of despondency on Nigerian streets to President Tinubu. “The party leader should be the one to tell our President this is the feedback from the communities and constituencies out there. Not what he is hearing in the villa where he is locked out,” he said. The walls of the Villa and the drowning choruses of sycophants are deafening enough to block the ears of a president from the true rendition of events.
In the bid to escape condemnation and favourably recontextualize the cries of the people for its adulations, governments are known to deploy what is called in Latin argumentum ad misericordiam to shore up their sagging pride. It is one of the major pitfalls in arguments which is appeal to emotion or literally, argument from pity. It is an emotional appeal that tugs at people’s pity and emotions, rather than through logical reasoning or argument.
We all know that Emefiele was at the top of a band of men and women who grossly and wickedly misused presidential powers during the Buhari government. Emefiele was audacious, power-hungry and dangerously fiddled with CBN policies to benefit hirelings of the Buhari government and members of his family. This didn’t bother the Nigerian people that much. When he however began to tinker with the policies, like the Naira redesign policy, which pauperized, hungered Nigerians, he became a pariah. No one was considered greater in notoriety in that government like Emefiele.
If this government is so afraid of its own shadows that it cannot call a spade a spade, it should however not insult the people of Nigeria. When the Tinubu-appointed Special Investigator on the Central Bank of Nigeria and Related Entities, Obazee, said that the redesign of the Naira by the Buhari government was not expressly approved by the president, he was obviously saying one or two things. One, he was confirming what many have always said that Buhari was just a figurehead president for eight years who had no idea of how government under him was being run. Second, that Nigerians are purely stupid. Obazee had said that the approval for the redesign came from Buhari’s aide, Sabiu Tunde ‘Yusuf’. Obazee said this while presenting his final report tagged, ‘Report of the Special Investigation on CBN and Related Entities (Chargeable Offences)’ to the president last Wednesday.
If Buhari didn’t run a figurehead government, or wasn’t a placeholder for some vermin whose aim was to use his name to suck the Nigerian blood, how would such a massively consequential policy which eventually dragged people to their graves, be taken by an aide of no economic or fiscal consequence, a Personal Assistant?
If Obazee’s role in making that statement was to appeal to Nigerians’ emotions, he failed woefully. This is because, a few weeks ago, in an interview with the NTA, his first since leaving government, Buhari confirmed that he approved the naira redesign policy as a way of ensuring that his “integrity became unquestionable.” On November 23, 2022, Buhari even unveiled the redesigned naira notes earlier than scheduled and was shown in pictures taken with Emefiele giving his imprimatur to the policy, the two grinning from ear to ear. At the launch of the Naira notes which preceded the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Buhari expressed his happiness that the notes were produced in Nigeria and were well-fortified. If this government is afraid to hold Buhari accountable for his sins of silence, collaboration or abetment of Nigeria’s past fiscal woes, it should not hoodwink us with those illogical statements. More instructively, why would Emefiele be accused by the CBN investigator this massively in crimes that the presidential office said would earn him public execution in China and the Smart Alec ex-CBN governor is merely being charged for procurement fraud.
By the way, does the presidential office realize that if the China model were to be in place in Nigeria today, where bribe receivers and embezzlers are executed at the drop of a hat, we may probably have no government in place as virtually everyone would have faced a squad of nuclear warheads?