In Defense of ‘Elemiewele’, By Omole Ibukun


The recent suspension and subsequent DSS arrest of Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), orchestrated by President Tinubu, has ignited a fierce debate about the consequences of his naira redesign policy. The Cash Scarcity policy (as I prefer to call it because that was the mainstay of the policy) implemented by Emefiele undoubtedly had far-reaching ramifications. But the issue is not about the policy or its implementation as many would like to think, but about the intention. It was the intention that framed the theory behind the policy, and it was that intention that influenced the implementation.

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In theory, it aimed to disrupt the illicit activities of the rich politicians and criminal elements who manipulated the system for their personal gain, while leaving the vulnerable masses to suffer the consequences. In implementing the policy, the lack of digital connectivity and inadequate circulation of new currency meant that the poor, who heavily relied on cash transactions for their daily sustenance, were disproportionately affected. In their struggle for survival, they faced insurmountable hurdles while the wealthy elites maneuvered effortlessly through alternate channels, engaging in dollar trading and evading the intended electoral impact of the policy.

The consequences of this policy manifested in the loss of innocent lives, for the majority of working-class Nigerians. Countless Nigerians, directly or indirectly, succumbed to the harsh realities brought about by the Cash Scarcity policy. Some perished due to the hardship it inflicted upon their livelihoods, while others tragically lost their lives during protests against the very policy that had pushed them to the brink. The weight of their suffering cannot be understated, and it is on all of us to acknowledge that pain and seek justice for them. The poor should not be made to bear the brunt of the corruption and opportunism of the ruling elite.

Just like the recent subsidy removal policy by Bola Tinubu (an oil entrepreneur) because of subsidy corruption of the oil entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Emefiele who led the cash scarcity policy was not only a rich politician, but he participated in the APC primaries of the same election. Is that not enough to suspect the selfish intentions behind the policy? INTENTIONS. Emefiele, driven by a thirst for power and influence, had earlier dared to participate in the heavily-monetized APC primaries for the very election he sought to shape with this policy. While retaining his seat as CBN governor, he unabashedly maneuvered his way to try to secure his own political aspirations. How can he then turn around to try to become an umpire in the same chess game?

At the heart of this matter lies the audacious admission by Emefiele and former President Buhari themselves, acknowledging that the Cash Scarcity policy was enacted for political reasons—to address the issue of vote-buying in the then-upcoming 2023 elections. The sheer brazenness of such an admission is enough to make one’s head spin. It is as if the corridors of power have become a game center, where the well-being of common Nigerians is secondary to the political ambitions of different sections of the ruling elite. Candidate Tinubu, the one-day revolutionary, who seized upon this opportune moment to position himself as a champion of the people in a remarkable twist, vehemently opposed the Cash Scarcity policy, not out of any genuine concern for the welfare of the masses, but rather as a calculated move to enhance his own political standing and beat back his opponents in power, like Emefiele. While pro-establishment presidential aspirants like Atiku and Obi astonishingly lent their support to a policy that perpetuated the suffering of the poor, Tinubu got the governors on his side to oppose the policy, especially in their states.

Tinubu later won the game. This whole game revealed a disheartening truth—a truth echoed by the fuel subsidy removal and fuel price increment policies of Tinubu, that this corrupt system will always put the burden caused by the corruption and economic mismanagement of the rich solely on the shoulders of the poor and most vulnerable in the society. Upon winning a victory, who is to say Tinubu’s long-standing grudge against an individual who nearly derailed his political aspirations is not being taken out on Emefiele to consolidate totalitarian power? INTENTIONS. Will this tool be used against any Nigerian daring to oppose Tinubu’s selfish ambitions as president? These are the pressing concerns that demand our undivided attention. Our task is to peer beyond the surface of issues and delve into the complexities of behaviors.

These dynamics between Tinubu and Emefiele expose a dangerous arrangement of power, where personal vendettas and political maneuvering intertwine to create a toxic political environment that enables authoritarianism. Is Tinubu, an epitome of corruption himself, going to address the systemic issues that allow corruption and exploitation to flourish, or is he merely scapegoating people (like Buhari did in his early days as President) to divert attention from the larger problems? We must not be distracted by this circus enough to take our attention away from the similar policy by Tinubu to increase fuel prices. We, the masses, must refuse to be mere pawns in this high-stakes game. In our pursuit of a better country, we must reject the narratives and manipulations of those in power. History has taught us the dangers of unchecked power.

While Emefiele finds himself in the crosshairs of Tinubu’s wrath, we must not forget the imperative of probing Tinubu himself, for orchestrating this recent fuel price increment. It is imperative to challenge Tinubu’s overconfidence, which stems from his belief that he owns the most influential activist structures in the country and that he just bought the labor leaders and kept them in his pocket. This disproportionate influence not only undermines the progress of our democracy as a country. Perhaps Tinubu’s overconfidence will inadvertently usher in such a spontaneous, exponentially-growing movement like the movement, with the resilience and determination of the Nigerian people shaking the pillars of his corrupt capitalist regime, but we can’t depend on that probability.

It is safe to conclude that ‘like the naira redesign (cash scarcity) policy, like the fuel subsidy removal (fuel price increment) policy’ and we must protest the fuel price increment by Tinubu like we resisted cash scarcity despite the cheap blackmails that we were defending Tinubu while protesting the scarcity. The blackmails are as illogical as saying this article was written in defense of ‘Elemiewele’ (because his name is as difficult to pronounce as his policy is impossible to defend). We must not be carried away by the latest media cycle. In the words of Frantz Fanon, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, to fulfill it, or betray it.” We must not betray the mission to end this series of neo-liberal policies being launched every other day to attack Nigerians. Let’s rise above the political games and forge a future where the working class and poor class Nigerians are not pawns in a chess game of corruption and greed, but active parts of the process of change and progress.

Omole Ibukun writes from Abuja, Nigeria and he can be contacted on 09167636201

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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