The suspension and subsequent arrest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has brought the inevitable collision between President Tinubu and ex-President Buhari closer than the two of them realize. Buhari, who hoped to have a peaceful retirement in Daura or Niger Republic, will soon discover that he had murdered sleep. Short of killing Emefiele, to silence him, the probe of the CBN ordered by Tinubu will reveal to what extent Buhari and his cabal, including Ministers and Advisers, privatized the bank. Since this is only a short article, it is not my intention to reveal all the facts of violations of the constitution, in which Buhari and Emefiele were involved. Partly, this is designed to warn Tinubu that if, indeed he wants to fight corruption, he could not have started in a better place. This one will test his sincerity of purpose to the limit. To put it bluntly, the CBN was more recklessly looted, “on orders from above”, from 2015 to 2023, than even under the draconian regime of General Sani Abacha. Therefore, the first question to ask is whether or not Tinubu has the guts to step on all the toes and damn the consequences. We shall soon see.
Government Of Conscienceless Liars: “Every government is run by liars, and nothing they say should be believed.” – I F Stone, 1907-1929, US Journalist. Stone, a great American journalist, opened my eyes to the perfidy of government officials worldwide. Writing these columns over thirty years has revealed to me how untruthful Nigerian government officials can be at all levels. But, of all the seven Nigerian governments that I have covered, Buhari’s administration is the one that has made lying a core aspect of their policy. They lie when it is unnecessary and when the falsehood is evident to everyone.
As Tinubu’s appointees go through the handing over notes left behind by Buhari’s people, they will invariably come across horrible deceptions foisted on Nigerians. They will be appalled that Honourable Ministers, Senior Special Advisers, and the President himself can be so dishonourable. A very recent example illustrates the point being made here. Currency change resulted in unprecedented cash scarcity in the country. A court of law made an order that old notes should continue in use. The CBN ignored the order; the President, at first, backed the bank until there was the threat of civil unrest. For several weeks, Nigerians had their money trapped in banks. Relief came only when Emefiele faced contempt charges. One Buhari spokesman announced that his government has always obeyed court orders. He very conveniently forgot that Buhari had broken the law serially with loans taken from CBN on Ways and Means. The Federal Government for eight years turned the CBN into its ATM. More on that later. The test of honesty is money; the test of integrity is power. The President of any country has tested both ways. Buhari failed both woefully.
By now all Nigerians are aware that the Buhari government collected N23.7 trillion in loans from the CBN without seeking approval from the National Assembly, NASS, packed full of spineless and unpatriotic people, in wilful disregard for the laws and constitution of Nigeria. It was not only Ways and Means. There were other documented cases of Presidential lawlessness; instances in which money, earmarked for a more beneficial purpose, was taken out and spent without a record of the expenditure.
Here is one example: Raid On Wheat Levy “ISSUE 14: IRREGULAR WITHDRAWALS FROM PUBLIC FUNDS (=N60,832,040,370.72). Section 80(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states: No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.” Also, paragraph 417 of the Financial Regulation states: Expenditure shall be strictly classified by the estimates, and votes must be applied only to the purpose for which the money is provided. Expenditure incorrectly charged to a vote shall be disallowed. “The sum of N13,775,687,264.39 was withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Pool Account, while N47,056,353,106.33 was withdrawn from 15% Wheat Grain Levy…for purposes outside the aim of the establishment of the respective funds, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and Financial Regulation..”
Despite his low educational qualification, even Buhari would be expected to understand those simple constitutional and financial regulatory provisions. At any rate, his Vice President is a Senior Advocate and a Professor of Law; he also has an Attorney General and Minister of Justice, sadly, a SAN. In addition, at least three SANs are members of his underperforming cabinet. So, Buhari cannot plead ignorance when he ordered the Governor of the CBN to release funds from the Wheat Levy Pool Account to pay for “the payment of earned allowance to Non-teaching staff of Nigerian Universities (N8,000,000,000); “to finance the 2019 recruitment of Police Officers approved by Mr President (N9,056,353,106.33) and “funds borrowed from a special account for eventual release to MOD [Ministry of Defence] procurement of Military Equipment (N30,000,000,000).” Source: AUDITOR-GENERAL FOR THE FEDERATION’S ANNUAL REPORT ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31ST DECEMBER 2019).
I have gone to great lengths to reveal how, since a fish rots from the head, the massive corruption in the Federal Government from 2015 to 2023 had its origin, specifically, in the President’s office. Buhari, contrary to the lies told by his spokesmen, was an incorrigible serial lawbreaker. The Wheat Levy was established to promote our self-sufficiency in wheat production and to reduce our food import bill. As we have seen, with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, Buhari illegally forced Emefiele to release funds from that account for other purposes. Abuse of power. He requested without approval from the NASS. Breach of a Financial regulation. And, he deliberately kept all the transactions hidden from the NASS, who did not ask questions. Nobody can now account for how the N30 billion released to the MOD was spent. To cover up this and thousands of other shady conspiracies between Buhari and CBN, Emefiele was granted immunity. Queries by the Auditor General were ignored. Summons by the NASS were treated with well-deserved contempt; the leaders of the NASS were primed to “see no evil hear no evil, speak no evil” about Buhari – despite the unpleasant odour of monstrous corruption.
Leading Them Into Temptation: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” I don’t know Emefiele well enough to know if he repeated the Lord’s prayer during his morning devotions; or if he observed morning prayers at all. I am certain he is fervently wishing to be delivered from the evil which had befallen him. I earnestly pray for him. He was led into temptation very early in the Buhari regime. When the FG established Economic Management Team, EMT – with Vice President Osinbajo as Chairman, in the absence of a cabinet, Emefiele allowed himself to be lured into fiscal policy formulation. From that association came one of the first fraudulent schemes – the Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP. For the first time in history, the CBN was directly funding a fiscal policy initiative – which very quickly became politicized and corrupted. Having fallen for the ABP trap, the CBN Governor was invested in presidential immunity. He could do anything and not be sanctioned. He was eventually drawn into gross violations of Ways and Means until the debt reached an unbelievable N23.7 trillion. Now, he is alone with the problem; that is what the Buhari cabal thinks.
Probing Emefiele, to some extent a victim of his ambitions and departure from the role of a Central Bank Governor, will however not be as simple as Tinubu thinks. Buhari issued the orders; Emefiele obeyed. The probe ordered will sooner or later reveal the long hand of Buhari in most of the infractions. Wheat Levy is only a hint of things to come. Anybody expecting Emefiele to go down alone is in for a shock. He knows too much, and he is not alone.
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