CBN: Apex Bank’s Top Officials Move Against Emefiele

Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor

By Bayo Bernard

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele’s re-appointment by President Muhammadu Bunari appears not to have gone down well with some entrenched interests in the country nonetheless, some individuals in the apex bank said to be desperate to have his job.

The magazine learnt that those not happy with his re-appointment are considering many options including smearing his name in order to make the president change his mind.

“It’s an exercise in futility. The president has made up his mind about the appointment. His decision was based on the performance in the last four years, and all is there for anybody to see.

He and his team were responsible for taking the nation out of recession immediately this administration came to office. That’s a great achievement that cannot be denied by anybody” a presidency source who craved anonymity told the magazine on Monday.

Just few days after President Buhari gave approval for him to continue in the apex bank top job, an audio tape has surfaced where Emefiele and other suspected senior officials were during a telephone discussion allegedly plotted to cover up a scam committed in the bank.

Apart from the CBN boss others in the conversation include his deputy, Edward Adamu; the Director of Finance, Dayo Arowosegbe; and the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor, Emmanuel Ukeje.

The medium claimed that the discussion of the top CBN officials was about a plot to cover up the huge loss after a private investment in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, went sour.

The ‘bad’ investment, the officials are allegedly plotting to cover up, is worth N500 bn the medium said.

The apex ban has been scrambling to deny the report since the audio tape went viral.

According to a statement issued by CBN spokesman Isaac Okorafor, there was no any attempt by the bank to cover up any scandal that the telephone conversation was simply a routine conversation among top echelon of the bank on how to resolve an important issue within the bank.

Contrary to insinuations that the audio recording of selective conversations by Emefiele and the officials were about a fraudulent transaction,Okorafor said, it was “simply to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the Bank’s balance sheet.”

Okorafor said, the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had approached the CBN in 2015 to assist state governments with Conditional Budget Support.

The support, the apex bank spokesman said, was to assist states to pay the salaries, pensions and gratuities of their workers in the aftermath of the significant drop in global oil prices and associated Federation Accounts allocations.

According to him,  to facilitate the recovery of the economy from the continuous impact of the recession, the CBN provided about N650 billion in loans at 9 per cent with a two-year grace period to 35 states of the Federation.

“These monies were distributed to the states monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.

In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft Account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund,” he said.

Okorafor explained that the ‘selective conversation’ referred to in the online report was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolve it.

The CBN spokesperson said following the discussion, it became clear to the officials that a state government’s loan cannot be classified as “bad” or “irrecoverable” when the state still exists and receiving monthly allocations from FAAC.

As a result, the CBN reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance, which jointly confirmed to the auditors who accepted the discrepancy in writing that these monies would be repaid, he said.

He explained further that, the auditors reversed the negative entry and certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the state of affairs.

Urging well-meaning Nigerians to disregard the report, Okorafor said  “Reconciliation of Balance Sheet items are regular conversations amongst senior management of many agencies and should not be misconstrued as anything but that.”

The CBN governor has not committed any scandal, therefore Nigerians should disregard the “audio and continue to trust that the Bank is doing everything it can to represent their interests in the best possible way,” he said.

Emefiele’s name was surprisingly forwarded to the Senate for approval last week by the president despite initial rumour that he would be replaced with another banker.

Analysts told the magazine that the storms now gathering against the Delta state born banker is one of the hurdles awaiting him as he set to face the upper chamber of the nation’s legislature for clearance.

Recall that some top notch in CBN were said to be lobbying to replace Emefiele as CBN governor.

The apex bank boss was appointed into the position in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Among those believed to be interested in the job is Aisha Ahmad, a Deputy Governor of the bank appointed by President Buhari two years ago.

Whether some officials of the bank who are said to be tired of Emefiele running the apex bank are responsible for leaking the tape cannot be confirmed.

But the magazine learned that some of his subordinates are not happy with his re-appointment.

“It remains unclear who leaked a private conversation between the governor and other top officials. But it’s clear that those that carried out the action does not have the interest of the man at heart,” a close aide of the governor told the magazine.

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