AN Harvard University economist, Oliver McPherson-Smith, has described the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, as a serious contender for the position of President of Nigeria in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
In an opinion piece, McPherson-Smith said Emefiele’s supporters had seen the potential of the CBN boss and had continued to push for his emergence as Nigeria’s President, as they made this visible at the just concluded convention of the All Progressives Congress.
“It’s not very often that a sitting central bank governor is lauded by throngs of singing and dancing supporters, but backers of the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, may have just made history at this weekend’s APC national convention,” he stated.
The economist added, “The political theatre, whether organic or facilitated, is a quirky tribute to a technocrat whose celebrity status usually doesn’t stretch past the Davos city limits.
“In a crowded field of candidates for the APC’s presidential nominee, however, it is unsurprisingly necessary to pull out all the stops to get ahead of the pack.”
McPherson-Smith stated that Emefiele, for his part, had so far kept silent on whether he would formally run.
“While others are quick to throw their hats in the ring, the CBN governor appears to be taking the route of a diligent-but-humble public servant who may be pressured into running,” he stated.
He went on, “Although that path above the fray is well-trodden, Emefiele’s powerful, the current position has ruffled plenty of feathers.
“In February, Premium Times ran an editorial calling on Emefiele to either resign and run, or remain in his post and repudiate any electoral ambitions.
“Similarly, just days ago the main opposition party, the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) offered a 21-tweet salute accusing Emefiele of having ‘desecrated the sanctity of his office as CBN Governor.’”
McPherson-Smith stated that if the governor were to formally enter the arena of partisan politics, there would be intense pressure upon him to resign his tenure as the country’s top banker.
He said, “Aside from his powerful post, why does Emefiele draw so much lightning? The APC is expected to select a candidate from the South for the 2023 ticket (some say the South-West, specifically, but that remains to be confirmed).
“Born in Delta State, Emefiele is described as having ‘a candidature with South-South and Igbo background.’ His professional experience is also strong. He came to the apex bank with 20 years of experience in the private sector, most notably as the managing director of the household name Zenith Bank.
“Additionally, appointed under PDP President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, Emefiele has worked with (and survived in his post under) governments led by both major parties.”
McPherson-Smith added, “This mix of fortuitous zoning happenstance, noteworthy private sector experience, and political longevity at the height of national politics makes Emefiele a serious contender.”