Between Godwin Emefiele And Mahmood Yakubu


By Kazeem Akintunde

The year 2023 is just three months old but two names that have had
much impact on Nigerians in such a short time are those of Godwin
Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and
Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral
Commission, INEC. Emefiele and Yakubu, within a very short period of
time, have etched their names unto the subconsciousness of many
Nigerians. Some sleep and dream of the duo, particularly the CBN

The two Nigerians, though not of the same ethnic stock, have impacted
the lives of the average Nigerian due to their policies and how they have
conducted the functions of their offices in the last three months. While
Emefiele is from Ika South Local Government area of Delta State,
Yakubu is from Bauchi State. Though born nine months apart, with
Emefiele claiming the bragging rights to seniority, both have come a
long way in service to their fatherland and are at the peak of their
respective careers.
Emefiele, as a young child, chose the banking world as a field after his
heart and pursued it diligently. Yakubu, on the other hand, fell in love
with the study of History, and his path was cut early for him to become a
teacher, albeit a history teacher. He attended Teachers’ College, Toro,
Bauchi State, and from there, proceeded to the University of Sokoto,
now Usmanu Danfodiyo University on a federal government
scholarship. A lucky child, his master’s degree programme at Cambridge
University in the United Kingdom was also on the Cambridge
Commonwealth Trust Scholarship. Again, his Ph.D. at the University of
Oxford was also on the same Commonwealth Scholarship, and with it,
he obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in History in 1991. Today,

Yakubu is no longer teaching graduate students the History of Nigeria
and that of the whole World within the four walls of a university, but
presiding over the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
Emefiele, on the other hand, though from Delta State, grew up in Lagos
and could be regarded as a Lagos Boy. He attended Government
Primary School, Victoria Island, a school that was formerly known as,
and called Ansar-ud-deen Primary School, Igbosere, Lagos. His
secondary education was at Maryland Comprehensive Secondary
School, Maryland, Lagos, before proceeding to the University of
Nigeria, Nsukka, for his Bachelor’s Degree in Banking and Finance in
1984 and a Master’s Degree (MBA) in Finance, winning the Best
Graduating student Award in 1986. A former Bank MD at Zenith Bank,
Emefiele now calls the shot at the Apex Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria,
where he manages the Nation’s economy.
He, alongside his principal, Muhammadu Buhari, embarked on a Naira
Redesign policy late last year that has left a lasting impression on
Nigerians. In fact, many are still trying to cope with the policy. Under
the policy, Nigerians were given less than two months to swap their old
notes with new ones. By January 31 st this year, the old notes of N200,
N500, and N1,000 ceases to be legal tender in the country. The Minister
of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed heard of the policy like any other
Nigerian- on the Radio and Television. Perhaps, it was one of the best-
kept secrets in the country. She wanted to raise dust but was told that
Emefiele and to a large extent, the CBN, do not report to her office and
that if she is in doubt of who is in charge of managing monetary policy
in the country, she should get across to her principal – the President. She
got the message and kept her cool.
The secrecy and rush, we were told was to make it impossible for
politicians who had stock-piled billions of Naira notes at home in
specially-built vaults to use in influencing the 2023 general elections to
swap it for the newly introduced designed naira notes. Nigerians heaved

National growth LS

a sigh of relief, believing that politicians have been beaten to their game.
Many Nigerians quickly keyed into the policy and took their old notes to
the banks but to their shock, new notes were nowhere to be seen. It was
a like a scene in a horror movie. Naira swap became Naira confiscation.
Nigerians were told to embrace a cashless policy. We can also use our
ATM cards for transactions or other online channels for payments. But
the IT infrastructure was not there to accommodate the deluge of
transactions taking place across the country. Nigerians were left
stranded. But Emefiele was not bothered by our distress. Cashless, it
must be. Our CBN governor took out over N2 trillion from circulation
and reprinted just about N400 billion. Naira notes then became an
essential commodity, forcing Nigerians to start using naira to purchase
Naira. The almighty dollar was relegated to play a second fiddle in the
country. We now spend N3,000 to get N10,000 cash from POS
operators, thereby creating a new class of opportunists making money
from the misery of others.
Unknown to Emefiele, our banking system has been set back by over
four decades by his policy. Nigerians started going to their banks as
early as 3 a.m. to pick numbers. Yet, those banks don’t open for business
until 8 a.m. A video soon hit social media showing people who actually
slept in front of a Bank ATM in the hope that Bank workers would load
the machine with new cash the following morning and they would be
able to make withdrawals. In other viral videos, people strip half-naked
in banking halls out of desperation for cash. A retiree cried bitterly and
cursed those punishing him in old age. Baba was at the bank to collect
his meager pension but was told that there was no cash.
In Delta State, where Emefiele hails from, a Bank customer actually
slumped and gave up the ghost after spending several hours on the queue
on an empty stomach.
With the President unperturbed by the suffering of his compatriots, some
state governors took up the battle. They sued the Federal Government at

the Supreme Court, seeking a declaration against the exercise. The
Supreme bought their argument and declared the naira swap and
currency redesign as illegal and directed that the old N200, N500, and
N1,000 notes continue to exist side by side with the new ones until
December 31st of this year.
Since last week when the supreme court made the pronouncement, there
has not been a word from our President, and neither has Emefiele
directed the commercial banks to resume the use of the old notes as
pronounced by the Supreme court. The matter was left for individual
bank’s MDs to choose as he pleases. And confusion continues to reign in
the land. Some Banks started paying their customers with old notes
while some refused to pay. Traders and commercial bus operators
behave as they please, with some accepting the few old notes in
circulation while some don’t.
Frustrated by the turn of events, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi
Akeredolu, in a state-wide broadcast had to plead with his people to start
accepting the old notes as he assured them that the notes are still legal
tender in the country. I still don’t know if the people of Ondo State will
listen to their governor. It is yet to be seen how the policy has affected
the politicians against whom the policy was aimed. During the last
presidential poll, politicians were indeed, unable to induce voters much,
and it is widely believed that this was a determining factor in the process
that produced the most popular candidate as the winner of the contest.
This is where Emefiele’s junior brother (Yakubu) came into the picture.
As the head of the electoral umpire for the country, Yakubu declared
Bola Tinubu as the winner of the election. But some Nigerians are up in
arms against that declaration. They have termed Tinubu’s victory as a
flawed one and have continued to describe him as INEC’s president and
not the people’s president. To them, he is not the elected president of the
people. In the election conducted by Yakubu’s INEC, three of the
candidates are laying claim to victory. This is the first time such a

scenario would be created in the country. In the past, it used to be a two-
horse race. But now, both Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the People’s
Democratic Party, PDP, and Peter Obi, the flag-bearer of the Labour
Party are both contesting the election victory of Tinubu. The main plank
of their argument is that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System,
BVAS, which should have been used to transmit the results of the poll
electronically and in real-time, was not used by the INEC.
This, according to the duo, is in flagrant disregard of the Electoral Act.
The court is there to make the necessary pronouncement on the legality
or otherwise of their case. One major fallback of the elections so far is
the postponement of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly
election that should have been conducted last weekend but was shifted
by a week. The court case by Atiku and Obi delayed the reconfiguration
of the BVAS machines as INEC needed five working days to complete
the process. Hopefully, the governorship elections will hold this
Saturday without more hassle.
Many Nigerians who have slated their social events for that day are now
in a quandary. Being the last Saturday before the beginning of this year’s
Ramadan fast, a lot of social dislocation has been caused by the
postponement of the election. But we hope that Yakubu and his team
would do much better than they did during the presidential election.
This is why many Nigerians have been ‘praying’ for our seasonal
characters, Emefiele and Yakubu. Many Nigerians won’t forget them
and the roles they played at this moment in time, in a hurry. We simply
hope and pray that their actions and inactions would not spell doom for
the well-being of the country. We pray that history will be kind to
Yakubu, a student of history, who later became a teacher of history. If he
succeeds in managing the 2023 presidential elections well in a cash
‘confiscation’ era tagged cashless policy, supervised by his brother,
Emefiele, then the INEC chairman would have written his name well in
the history book of Nigeria.

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