Reactions as Wikipedia describes Emefiele as ‘Nigerian politician’

WIKIPEDIA has described the embattled former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, as a Nigerian politician, sparking reactions from public commentators.

In its Godwin Emefiele page, the online encyclopedia describes Emefiele, born on August 4, 1961, as “Nigerian politician, economist and banker.”

Wikipedia, which can be publicly edited by anybody, says: “In an unprecedented move by any chief of the Nigerian apex bank, Godwin Emefiele ventured into partisan politics against the dictates of the Central Bank Act which provides that the occupant of the governor’s position must remain apolitical and independent at all times to preserve the nonpartisan posture of the bank.”

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Continuing, Wikipedia says, “In May 2022, Emefiele drew public outrage when it emerged that he was seeking to replace President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2023 presidential election. What started as a rumor when campaign posters of the bank chief flooded the capital city of Abuja soon gained breath when a group of alleged rice farmers purchased the presidential form of the All Progressives Congress for the CBN Governor.”

Wikipedia adds that Emefiele rejected the presidential form in a series of tweets via his verified account, and declared he has no intention to contest. 

“But in a quick twist, Emefiele filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order from the court directing the electoral body and the office of the attorney general not to stop him from contesting the presidential position. The court stepped down the request but invited the duo to make a formal presentation on why Emefiele’s request should not be granted.”

Emefiele’s naira redesign policy

After his failed bid to emerge as APC candidate, the ex-CBN governor introduced a naira redesign policy in October 2022 and restricted access to cash.

Emefiele had announced that N200, N500 and N1000 would be redesigned, noting that the pre-exisiting notes would cease to be legal tenders in late January, 2023.

READ ALSO: No cash scarcity in Nigeria, insists CBN

There was an acute cash scarcity in the first quarter of 2023 when Nigeria conducted the general elections, sparking criticisms that Emefiele had orchestrated the scarcity to stifle politicians of funds.

The APC candidate and now Nigeria’s president, Mr Bola Tinubu, had to criticise Emefiele and Mr Muhammadu Buhari during a political campaign in Ogun State, raising suspicion that there were plans to scuttle his elections.

It took the Supreme Court to nullify the exercise on March 3, 2023.

A seven-man panel, led by Justice John Okoro said in a unanimous judgement that President Muhammadu Buhari issued the directive without consultation with state government through the Council of States and the National Economic Council.

Suspension and arrest

The ex-CBN chief was suspended on June 9, 2023 – 11 days after President Tinubu came to power. A press statement attributed the suspension to ongoing investigations of his office. He was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) and charged to court.

He was later rearrested by the SSS after a Federal High Court, in Lagos, had granted him bail in July.

Reactions trail Wikipedia description

Opinions are divided as to whether the Wikipedia’s classification is right or wrong. While some analysts agree with Wikipedia’s description, others said it was the handiwork of those who were not happy with the ex-CBN governor.

“As far I am concerned, Emefiele was not active in politics, Everything people say today about his being a politician is from a speculation that he wanted to become the APC standard bearer. So I disagree,” said a civil society activist, Ms Chioke Okoroigwe.

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But a financial expert, Mr Ademola Daramola, disagreed. He said Emefiele became a politician when he branded buses for his presidential campaign.

“He branded a number of buses for his campaign. Secondly, he registered as an APC member in Agbor, Delta State. What other proof do you need to show that he is a politician?” he asked.

However, a lecturer, Mr Femi Okeowo, said Emefiele was a “passive Nigerian politician,” which Wikipedia should have clearly stated.

“The question is this, was he ever an active participant in politics? He was not. Registering as a member of a party does not make you an active politician except you begin to take an active part in politics. He is more of a financial expert than politician,” he argued.

Yakubu Ibrahim
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