We react to the media outcry and backlash from Nigerians far and near about the alleged phone conversation involving Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and few Management Staff released to the public few days ago by Sahara Reporters, an online platform. As it is well known, this platform has, no doubt, carved a niche for itself in investigative journalism. We also refer to the statement issued by the CBN in reaction to the said audio conversation. We issue the following statement knowing full well the important role played by the CBN in a developing economy like ours, and most importantly, because we act as champions of transparency, accountability and good governance in public service:
1. That the Central Bank of Nigeria should make the authentic audio tape public as to dissuade and assuage the international community, investors and the entire Nigerians that the conversation was not deleted to mislead the public as ascribed to by the CBN statement and in bad faith to mislead the gullible public.
2. Profiling the conversation between the CBN Governor and the staff, shows that the telephone conversation was just recently done as against the statement of CBN. The CBN insists that this was a selective wire taped conversation of the bank’s management in 2015. Our psychological profilers have attentively listened to the audio, and after a critical analysis, have agreed that, really the “fear” displayed by the tune of the discussants was not a management routine discussion but a selective discussion carried out to cover up some financial infractions by trusted aides, who were at their wits-end to do anything possible to write off, transfer, and do the needful spin to cover the financial infractions. With expressions like: “I don die now. Where I go see the money?” ascribed to Mr Emifiele, clearly shows that there is more to it than meet the eyes and the repeated hopelessness in the conversation of a way out of the CBN Governor cannot be swept under the carpet.
3. Subject to his confirmation by the Senate, the CBN financial records/statement of accounts should be immediately, without further notice, be audited by forensic auditors from outside the country so as to restore investors’ confidence, and that of Nigerians and the international community. On the other hand, the management staff involved should proceed on “suspension” pending the outcome of the investigation to unravel their culpability and ascertain how much has been fleeced from the Central Bank’s vaults and how the money developed wings at the apex bank so as to restore credibility in the financial system.
4. The audio leak should be taken seriously by well-meaning Nigerians because if this audio was explained to Nigerians beforehand, or the measures taken by Management to block the loopholes before now, it would have been accepted by all, instead of the hush statement put forward by the CBN. In a televised interview by the CBN spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, onMoneyLine live on theAfrica Independent Television (AIT), he said they were “cracking their brains” to solve a problem, which to a lot of Nigerians, the reverse was the case, because the emotional discomfiture of the CBN Governor, his Deputy and aides gave their intentions out to Nigerians, that there is more to it than meet the eyes. In fact, the audio will affect the country’s economy negatively as investors will panic and paint a gloomy scenerio into the financial system, thereby losing the country financial image in the comity of nations. The best option at this juncture, is for the CBN Governor to proceed on suspension so as to restore confidence and boost the economy, paving way for an independent investigation.
5. A lot of Nigerians believe that the CBN statement was full of financial jargons and not in tandem with (and at variance with) what transpired on the audio. Therefore, there has to be a thorough “house-cleaning” and it has also been agreed by a section of Nigerians that it was because of issues like these that the CBN Governor was re-appointed. This is because, it is self-serving a few people in authority at the detriment of Nigerians to plow the economy backwards. This is indeed beyond press statement from the CBN and not enough to correct an alleged monumental fraud at the apex bank involving huge sums of money. There are so many under-hand cover-ups that heralded Mr. Emiliefele’s administration over the years. Therefore, it is high time, we clean the Aegean’s stable and allow for fresh blood into the financial system, as the continued stay of Mr. Godwin Emifiele is not only anti-people but a dent on the country’s good corporate governance practice and our financial image.
6. Mr Emifiele’s re-appointment is the first in the history of Nigeria that is greeted with so many hues and cries due to the massive sufferings of Nigerians, because of the apex bank’s policies. It is a known fact that the audio recording came few days after President Muhammadu Buhari sent Mr Emefiele’s name to the Senate for confirmation for another term of five years, which does not take away the substance of the issue at stake. There was indeed an alleged monumental cover-up as the audio leak opened a can of worms of what must have been happening in the apex bank for some time now. We therefore implore the CBN to immediate produce the full content of the audio as stated in its press statement so as to assuage Nigerians as to the true story of what transpired.
7. We also sincerely apologize to the Nigerian people to have proposed to honour the CBN Governor by our parent body, only to realize recently of the alleged sharp practices going on in the apex bank. We further tender our unreserved apologies and withdraw all the previous accolades written on the bank’s integrity and management. It is a fact, that Nigerians are tired of being taken for granted and deserve to know the truth of what transpired. We earnestly advise that the CBN Governor proceed on suspension till further notice. Finally, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to take a decisive action so as to restore investors’ confidence and Nigerians’ belief in his fight against corruption and the sincerity of his Next Level Agenda.
Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele
Executive Secretary, Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI)
Comrade James Okoronkwo
Head, Media Relations, Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI)