Without mincing words, one can say that Mr Godwin Emefiele is one of the most popular people in Nigeria right now. Amid the nationwide cash scarcity challenge that has gripped the country, it is understandable why his name is on everyone’s lips.
Not only will he Emefiele be remembered as the first governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to serve for two terms since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, he will also go down in history as the first CBN governor to receive the most backlash over his rather controversial monetary policies.
Across social media, particularly Twitter, you can find tweets, videos and other social media posts where individuals at different levels have complained bitterly about the hardship caused by his recent naira redesign policy. The disparaging comments were mostly blamed for the perceived failure of the policy which they said was not well thought out.
Some people have gone as far as calling names and openly insulting the apex bank’s governor. Needless to over-emphasise that no other Central Bank Governor in the history of this country has had it this hot!
For the average Nigerian, Meffy, as he is sometimes called, came into the limelight when he was appointed the Central Bank Governor by President Goodluck Jonathan on June 4, 2014. But there was a lot more to him before he became governor of Nigeria’s Apex bank. Let’s look back at his rise to ‘stardom’.
Education and career trajectory: Godwin Emefiele was born on the 4 August 1961 in Lagos State, although he hails from Ika South in Delta State Nigeria. He attended Ansar Udin Primary School and Maryland Comprehensive Secondary in Lagos, before proceeding to the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Banking and Finance in June 1984.
Two years after graduation, he obtained a Masters’s Degree (MBA) in Finance, winning the Best Graduating Student Award in 1986.
He is also an alumnus of Executive Education at Stanford University, Harvard University and Wharton School of Business where he took courses in Negotiation, Service Excellence, Critical Thinking, Leading Change and Strategy.
Mr Emefiele’s early career consists of his days as a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the University of Port Harcourt, teaching Finance and Insurance. He also worked with Vodafone before he went into the Banking sector.
Although Emefiele has more than two decades of banking experience, information about his banking career outside Zenith Bank is not available. Godwin Emefiele joined Zenith Bank Plc as a founding member and served as part of the management team in several capacities. He served as executive director in corporate banking, treasury, financial control, and strategic planning.
He also served as Director with Zenith Bank (Gambia) Limited. He became the deputy managing director of Zenith Bank Plc in 2001 and ultimately served as the group managing director and CEO.
Appointment as Central Bank Governor: On June 3, 2014, Godwin Emefiele became the 11th Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, succeeding Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. At the end of his first tenure in 2019, he was recommended for a second five-year term and became the first CBN Governor to serve two terms since 1991.
From his first day as the Apex bank Governor, Emefiele made it clear that he meant business. He first rattled the financial market when he blocked importers of 41 items, including toothpicks from the official forex window, since the said items could be produced in Nigeria.
At the president’s direction, he also oversaw an interventionist currency policy during his first tenure that involved flooding the foreign exchange market with billions of dollars to support the Nigerian Naira. He equally established a multiple exchange rate regime to hide Naira pressure and prevent a string of devaluations.
Under Emefiele’s leadership, the CBN launched several intervention funds targeted at stimulating the economy. As part of the bank’s development finance initiatives, the apex bank also granted N756.51 billion to 3,734,938 smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, of which N120.24 billion was extended for the 2021 Wet Season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
For the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), the sum of N121.57 billion was disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries; and for the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), N318.17 billion was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The policy of Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR), introduced in September 2019, resulted in a huge increase in banks’ credit. Nigeria recorded significant growth in banks’ credit to the private sector by 92.79 per cent year-on-year to N32.64 billion in June 2021 from N16.93 billion in June 2014, when Emefiele became the governor of the CBN.
There have been several other programs and achievements from the apex bank in the last decade.
The controversies surrounding him: Emefiele has been the subject of controversies at different points in his two-term tenure. Most significant of them was his alleged attempt to run for the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria in May 2022.
It started as a rumour with campaign posters for the bank governor flooding Abuja, and the high point was when a group of rice farmers bought the N100 million APC presidential nomination form for Emefiele.
The landmark judgement from the High Court, Abuja refusing his prayers to restrain INEC from disqualifying him, makes a strong case for a review of the relevant section in the Central Bank’s Act which is silent on the eligibility of a serving governor to run for an election in Nigeria.
However, Emefiele later announced via his verified Twitter account that he had no intention of running for office.
The most recent controversy came on the heels of the Naira redesign and the enforcement of the cashless policy as put forward by the Central bank last year. Some political figures have alleged that the cashless policy was Emefiele’s way of getting back at them, after being disqualified from running for the number one office in the country.
He has won numerous awards: Godwin Emefiele has been the recipient of some awards including the Forbes Best of Africa Lifetime Achievement Award; and Vanguard Public Sector Icon of the Year Award. He also holds an Honorary Fellowship from the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and has received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), his alma mater.
He is an Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors, International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as a member of the Governing Board of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM). Godwin Emefiele holds the prestigious Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) award.
Emiefele is a liar and has an over-bloated image of himself. He is just a common criminal manipulating stock market prices to enrich himself. His over-bloated image surpassed that of his counterparts at NGX. We need to put good leaders to head institutions so we don’t lament and suffer. Buhari cried in 2015. We supported. He has inflicted pain and anguish on everyone. We are now more divided than in 2015.