by Mark Amaza
Early last month, a shadowy Twitter account, EmefieleStays was created and has been engaging in a social media campaign advocating for the retention of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele who has been severely criticised locally and internationally for his counter-productive monetary policies that have kept Nigeria mired deep in an economic recession.
The emergence of that account was not too much of a surprise; after all, this is Nigeria where it is common to find people organising support for a public official under-fire as much as those that organise against said official. This could be through protests and rallies, online or through non-governmental organizations both known and never heard of before offering public support.
It has also been the same in the case of Emefiele in all these examples; and although it is strongly suspected that this support and even sponsorship is at the prompting of the cause célèbre, there has been no evidence of this link.
Until yesterday morning when the official account of the Central Bank of Nigeria tweeted official images of the EmefieleStays campaign, which means that the campaign is not only prompted by the Governor, but it is also coordinated from within the Central Bank.
By this action, it means that the institution of the Central Bank has been plunged into this campaign to save the job of the Governor when it should have stayed above the fray. Little wonder that the people behind the campaign preferred to stay in the shadows.
One would have expected that Governor Emefiele would have resigned considering his dismal performance as the head of the apex bank due to his insistence of a monetary policy that has caused capital inflows to shrink by 47% last year alone and the first trade deficit in seven years to occur. The stranglehold on the exchange rate is the major reason why foreign investors have stayed away while those here are quickly closing shop and exiting the country, leaving in their wake job losses in a recession.
While it has been argued that the Central Bank is not as independent in this administration as it was under previous ones, one would have expected that if Emefiele is of the opinion that the Presidency is not giving him the freedom he needs to be decisive on monetary policy matters, he will save his name and resign.
However, it does appear that he is desperate to hang on to the job even as public perception of him continues to go lower. This is worsened by the fact that he has managed to drag the institution he runs into his messy power play.
The Central Bank needs to be reminded its existence outlives the tenure of any governor, and as such should not let itself be tethered to his personal ambition. Doing so reduces an important institution to the personal property of the governor and subject to his personal whim and caprice.
As such, a campaign such as EmefieleStays should not even be associated with it as an institution, much less ran from within it.
Such shameful behavior should, frankly, not be witnessed again.