Recently, Godwin Emefiele, our central bank governor, suspended one of his deputy governors and four deputy directors for “failing to follow financial regulation and due process, leading to the scamming of the bank by fraudsters.” The suspended deputy governor, financial system surveillance, Joseph Nnanna, authorized the payment of $441, 000 to the scammers after responding to what turned out to be a spam mail while Mr. Emefiele and some other central bank officials were away to China. Subsequently, $251, 000 was recovered while $190, 000 had already been cashed by the fraudsters. Wonderfully, some of them have been arrested and are already being interrogated. But that is only the good story out of Nigeria’s central bank, if we can call it good.
To situate it in a proper context we need to look at what happened in Bangladesh last month where $81 million got missing from the country’s central bank. Yes, you read that correctly, $81 million. Bloomberg reported that “over a single weekend in February, hackers managed to extract tens of million of dollars from Bangaldesh’ central bank before anyone noticed. Governor has resigned and much of the cash is missing.” So if a deputy to Mr. Emefiele fell for scammers’ antics, what hope for the rest of us who might not be versed in cyber security? Beyond what was reported missing, how much else has been lost to scammers by the CBN under Emefiele’s watch that citizens are still in the dark about?
There is another scandal more damaging from our central bank. On March 15, Sahara Reporters, broke a story that the central bank hired at least 91 people including children and relatives of highly placed Nigerians secretly without advertising for the positions. Daily Trust followed up the next day with another report claiming that 909 people were recruited between June 2014 and February 2015 in violation of due process and federal character principles.
Some of those on the Sahara Reporter list include a daughter of Solomon Arase, the Inspector General of police, son of Ibe Kachikwu, the group managing director of NNPC and minister of state for petroleum, son of Abdulrahman Dambazzau, internal affairs minister of the shoeshine scandal, daughters of the deputy governors of Bayelsa and Delta States, daughter of Governor Bindo Jubrilla of Adamawa State. Also included is a daughter of Hammeed Alli, the comptroller general of Nigeria Customs Service, touted as one that is squeaky clean in terms of corruption. President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew was also recruited illegally.
We all know employment is a serious issue in the land and the central bank is also one of the most coveted places of employment with the perks and attractions that come with a job there. The flip flop by the bank on economic matters leading to policy somersaults should give us all a lot of worry in the light of this revelation especially when its management were said to be on the lookout for the person who leaked the illegal recruitment exercise. How are we sure that policy decisions have not been based on protection of cronies and friends at the detriment of majority of Nigerians? For a government that prides itself on an anti-corruption mission, how do some of its officials justify their children and relatives’ employment through the back door? Kachikwu has been speaking the right words as regards the NNPC, but can we trust his judgment any longer? Can we boldly say that nepotism is not coloring his decisions as regards the oil sector? If Hammeed Ali can accept a back door employment for his daughter, what else will he accept in return for favourable decisions as head of customs? A downside of the Buhari administration is the continued retention of Dambazzau as minister with the derogatory treatment he meted out to an aide who cleaned his shoes at a public function despite the outcry that trailed that action. Your guess is as good as mine if our president will do anything on this matter. One may argue that what if these people were hired without the knowledge of their parents and guardians, but what has been done after it became public knowledge?
Since his appointment on June 3, 2014, Emefiele has been stumbling from one mistake to another and while the CBN Act might guarantee him job security, he does not seem a good fit any longer for the job. He should do the honourable thing by resigning his appointment.
By Wale Fatade