• The President should fire, or ask to resign, CBN governor and justice minister for their brazen show of partisanship and conflict of interests
If there was a Nigerian version of the Guinness Book of records, many political events and personalities in the Nigerian public space would easily have gained some spots in the book of bizarre in this pre-election season. The quest by some public officers in Nigeria to pursue their political ambitions at various levels can be aptly described as a semblance of the famous theatre of the absurd.
For the first time in Nigeria’s political history, there is a plethora of presidential aspirants, especially in the federal cabinet. While the constitution grants each citizen the freedom of association and the right to seek elective posts, there are offices that their mere sensitivity and for ethical, professional and moral reasons, they should be like Caesar’s wife, be above reproach.
The governor of the nation’s Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and some ministers in the administration had indicated their interests in contesting for the presidency and governorship elections, come 2023. The AGF specifically wanted to contest for the governorship of his home state, Kebbi. Between Emefiele and Malami, the whole country was outraged to see posters and fleets of campaign vehicles in their names. Both allegedly claimed that they were gifts from friends and well-wishers.
At the height of the national outrage and questions about the propriety of a serving CBN governor and other government appointees contesting for the presidency and other political posts while still serving at their duty posts, the President held a valedictory session for all those with political ambitions and instructed at the end of the event that they must all resign before May 16.
There are those who resigned, some resigned and allegedly withdrew their resignation letters while some are yet to resign. It was shocking to Nigerians and the global financial sector to see a sitting CBN governor get so partisan without shame and even wish to contest for presidency while still sitting on his table at the CBN. He has been scampering from court to court, including getting a ruling from a high court in his native Delta State, seeking to be allowed to run for office. For one at the apex bank that is the sole custodian of electoral materials and other highly sensitive national documents, many are asking whether Mr. Emefiele has the honour that that high office demands.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mamoud Yakubu, had hinted weeks back that INEC might seek alternative venues to store the sensitive election materials. This is as disappointing as it can get. We are as shocked as all Nigerians that the CBN governor can so trivialise both his office and that of the Presidency he seeks. We are equally disappointed that President Muhammadu Buhari seems to be extremely permissive with his cabinet members, even after hosting them to a valedictory session. Valedictory is the English version from the original words ‘Vale dicere’ meaning ‘to say goodbye’, valedictory expresses farewell, goodbye.
We cannot understand why those that had said their goodbyes are still sitting tight in their offices even when some of them have no sterling results to show for the offices they have occupied since 2015 in some instances. We expect the President to be firmer and more decisive. It is almost like the tail is wagging the dog. An Emefiele and a Malami ought to have been shown the door after they attended the valedictory session for those that had political ambitions.
The rigmarole of the appointees in oscillating between leaving and staying is a sure sign of loss of moral strength to serve the people they swore to serve at their inauguration. The flaunting of a series of brand-new campaign vehicles by both the AGF and the CBN governor says a lot about their offices and their personal choices. Indeed, for Emefiele and Malami not to take the path of honour and resign is a desecration of the offices they occupy. They should be relieved of their offices because their actions cast a slur on the integrity of the offices. In the case of Emefiele, integrity must be restored for Nigeria to regain its image in the global financial world.
Malami’s case is no less grave. He comes across as having conned the political process and taken the judicial branch for a ride. He was seeking a political office while serving as an appointee. Yet, he stood as a vanguard of the cause to sanction political office holders to contest while in office. He desecrated a canon of law: that you cannot be a judge in your own cause. He was shameless in his subterranean plot. He did not only play false to the judiciary but also to his boss the President whom he advised on the matter.
Even in prosecuting it, he was sly. He took the matter to an obscure court in the southeast, did not notify the other parties to the suit, and when the verdict came, it favoured his pre-determined position. He promptly wanted to gazette it to make it a fait accompli. He was restrained because the matter went on appeal.
Later he fell into a scandal about his gifts to party men in his Kebbi State. He denied it before he could not, and he accepted. Then he resigned his office after the president’s order before he did not.
Now, he holds the office, and still preens there after all his obscene acts on that seat. If the President does not have the strength of heart to show him the door, he has not evinced enough dignity to walk out.
We hereby call on the President to fire Emefiele who even in the heart of the matter waxed defiant and employed expletives against members of the public. A CBN governor is made of urbane stuff, not the vulgarity of rhetoric, manner and body language as he has demonstrated.
In the same vein, we call on the President to fire Malami, who has not transcended in his conduct the balance and ethical integrity that office compels. Both men are no models of behaviour in office, and allowing them to continue will damage the offices of the CBN governor and attorney-general and minister of justice in ways that will take extraordinary moral rejuvenation to repair. We are not building a democracy for crass misconduct, but to enthrone mores that will engage a future of high ideals.