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Emefiele: Why CBN governor’s refusal to step down for the presidential race is no surprise [Pulse Contributor’s Opinion]

The head of the country’s apex financial institution has drawn condemnation for wanting to mix his important job with political participation.

Just when there was intense activity on the ₦100 million nomination forms to contest for president under the All Progressives Congress, all that seems to have been put in the back seat with more than 20 candidates paying ahead of the party primaries in Abuja on May 29 and 30, 2022.

One man in the race is Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele. His candidacy has, however, been met with disdain as it has been expected of him to step down from his position as the country’s chief financial head and solely focus on his political campaign.

Emefiele has been defiant even after Section 84 (12) of the newly-signed 2022 Electoral Act supposedly orders him to do so.

“No political appointees at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election,” reads the concerned section of the Electoral Act.

To this effect, President Buhari has called on the likes of Emefiele and other top heads in government seeking to run for any office next year to step down now.

“Mr. President has observed and noted the expression of interest and intention by some members of the Federal Executive Council, heads of extra-ministerial departments, agencies, parastatals of government, ambassadors and other political office holders to contest the upcoming presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies’ elections,” read a statement issued by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

“Consequently, Mr. President has directed that the affected office holders aspiring to run for various offices in the 2023 general election, should tender their resignation on or before Monday, the 16th of May, 2022.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this directive affects all ministers, heads and members of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals of government, ambassadors, as well as other political appointees who desire to contest for elective offices.”

Even renowned human rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, is of the view that if Emefiele refuses to resign, President Buhari must use his powers to do that and have him prosecuted.

“If he does not call it quits with the CBN forthwith Mr. Emefiele should be removed by the President in line with Section 11 of the CBN Act and recommended for prosecution for conflict of interest before the Code of Conduct Tribunal,” Falana said in a statement.

While some officials have resigned such as Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, Emefiele is simply turning a deaf ear on all these calls and is rather challenging it in court, with his line of defence being that he is not a political appointee as Section 84 (12) of the 2022 Electoral Act says.

He is rather a public servant as per Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution and is bound by Section 137 of the same constitution that says a public office holder keen to contest in the elections shall resign from office not later than 30 days before election.

Emefiele might be setting a bad precedent by not following the Electoral Act but should he be blamed when he is only taking a cue from those higher in authority?

Nigeria is best described as a country with existing laws that are simply not followed, leaving those in the position of power to do as they please, even when they are clearly in the wrong.

From many of the existing laws governing the country including the 1999 Constitution, are loopholes these public office holders exploit to the fullest. In Emefiele’s case, his line of argument from the 1999 Constitution could make way for him to continue as CBN governor, and why won’t he continue when it is not certain he will clinch the APC presidential nomination. At least it ensures he remains with the Central Bank even after the drama and fallout from Eagle Square is over.

In Nigeria, political aspirants forge their biodata, academic and career credentials all to give them more legitimacy. Since records of births are not documented, it is easy for public servants to alter their age making it possible for them to stay in government circles past the official retirement age.

In Nigeria, politicians charged with financial fraud and other serious crimes still find their way into the contest during elections. Even members of the armed forces charged with maintaining law and order break the law and are not prosecuted.

The instances are endless and it highlights how problematic anything that has to do with the law is in Nigeria, which spills down into the community.

There’s no respect for it and since it allows public office holders to have their way, it should not come as a surprise if Emefiele runs in the APC primaries while remaining as CBN governor.

Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of a Pulse Contributor, it doesn’t reflect the opinions of the company.

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