If we were under any circumstances to say that we did not expect the suspension of Mr Godwin Emefiele as Central Bank Governor, we would appear very naïve. We all did expect it – though in the present circumstances, it would appear that it is only Mr Godwin Emefiele who seemed very naïve and probably did not anticipate his coming travail. With his arrest, the present administration sets a tone keenly watched by friend and foe.
We are in the present tempted to ignore Mr Godwin Emefiele’s many ‘crimes’ – we call them ‘crimes’ advisedly – and this is mostly because these ‘crimes ‘- the double devaluation of the naira and its eventual slide, the designation of Nigeria as world poverty capital, and the many other allegations against Mr Emefiele – are at best the wrong application of the principal-agent theory of management and in law. By wrongful application of the principal-agent theory – we mean that on his own, Emefiele never had the legal, political and constitutional authority to embark on some of the dumb policies that he is widely accused. We see Emefiele as a mere pawn – an agent of his principal – Muhammadu Buhari – to be used and eventually to be disposed of. He was part of that group of individuals who perpetrated at random, gargantuan acts of impunity that made it impossible for Nigeria to move forward.
During a press conference in Abuja recently, organisers told journalists that Mr Emefiele had been involved in a forex fraud of over $3billion. The organisers also claim to have in their possession ‘pertinent documents’ revealing a N101 trillion stamp duty fraud allegation against Mr Godwin Emefiele. Most of the allegations are in a compendium, George Uboh Magazine, with a damning title, ‘How Emefiele Used CBN to Aid Fraud of Over $280 billion in actual and Collateral Losses to Nigeria’. The questions we eventually put forward to the organisers of this press conference were these: one, putting into consideration the fact that Emefiele was an employee or agent of his principal, and who did not have the authority to have perpetrated those acts of financial recklessness ascribed to him, why is he being prosecuted or being persecuted for taking instructions from his oga? Two, where were the EFCC, the DSS and the presidency when Mr Godwin Emefiele allegedly funded the presidential campaigns of Presidents Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari, and even his own presidential ambition?
Answers to these questions inevitably point fingers at Muhammadu Buhari. It is therefore the position of this column that the individual to hold directly responsibility for the flagrant acts of impunity ascribed to the former CBN governor in the outgone administration is Muhammadu Buhari. His inability or unwillingness to check acts of impunity ascribable to his agent means that he gave tacit approval and endorsement to those actions and inactions. Whilst it would be naïve again to expect the present administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to rein in Muhammadu Buhari and hold him to account for unbelievable acts of impunity in governance, it is important to state though that the epoch and time where former presidents were immune to arrest and prosecution are long gone. We see such an example in the United States – former president Donald Trump – formerly the most powerful man in the world, and leader of one of the greatest economies went through very thorough investigations by the relevant authorities. He was found guilty of keeping classified documents in his home, and supported an insurrection against the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. He has been hauled in for questioning and is being prosecuted by the justice department. There are yet other instances around the world where former leaders – Berlusconi, Aung San Suu Kyi, Omar al-Bashir, Jacob Zuma – have been put through the process, found culpable and thrown in jail.
A video making the rounds on the internet seem to suggest that former president Buhari is promising hell and high waters on anyone in Nigeria with the temerity to haul him in for questioning over his maladministration of Nigeria, and the slide that Nigeria took under him. I suggest we all ignore it. And this is because under the circumstances where images and videos are easily manipulated, such videos and pictures cannot be relied upon. But we know for a fact that in eight years, the buck stopped at his table as president, and we believe that he should take responsibility for the glaring acts of impunity ascribed to a government he led.
Again, and with all due respects, we must say that we do not expect the present administration to lob in the head of the outgone administration for questioning and prosecution. For starters, there are issues of cultural immunity – both chaps are in the same party, with the present one also having issues of legitimacy and allegations of fraud and corruption hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles. Most Nigerians have not forgotten that Bola Ahmed Tinubu foisted Muhammadu Buhari on them, and hauling him in would be an indictment.
So, this is what we would recommend. Events in the past week indicate that the present government is compiling a list of the drivers of impunity in the Buhari administration for punishment. After Mr Godwin Emefiele, the axe has fallen heavily on the now former EFCC chairman Mr AbdulRasheed Bawa. If they have not already included these prominent drivers of impunity in the Buhari administration – former ministers of Information and Culture, Petroleum, power, finance, aviation and the ‘humanitarian affairs’ minister – they should do so without delay.