“Corruption” is an inadequate word to describe the Nigerian nation. Since independence in 1960, corrupt practices have constituted the rules by which Nigeria has been run. The old predatory political class has survived on corruption till date, and the fundamentals of the old system remain unchanged.

Sunday, May 12, SaharaReporters in a posted exclusive audio busted Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele, Edward Adamu (deputy governor), Dayo Arowosegbe (finance dire tor), and Emmanuel Ukeji (special adviser to the CBN governor). 

In the audio conversation, Emefiele and the three top CBN officials were heard discussing how to cover up N500 billion loot which they had invested in a private business that ran aground. CBN director of corporate communications Isaac Okorafor has since confirmed the authenticity of the audio.

The CBN, like any other central bank, occupies a key role in modern economy. For any central bank to do its job diligently and effectively, public trust is critical to its operations. The role of the CBN is all-encompassing. Apart from monetary policy, it must ensure broader financial stability. 

The regulation and supervision of private financial institutions makes it necessary for the CBN to rid itself of improper influence and to put in place accountability mechanisms. Therefore, it goes without saying that anti-corruption measures in the CBN must consequently address political industry-related and internal sources that can encourage, compromise or lead to corruption which ultimately can impede its performance and threaten public trust.

In our history of banking corruption, the punishment for titans of the industry has never been commensurate with the crimes committed. Penalty for corruption in the industry is, mildly put, a slap on the wrist. Bank executives in Nigeria are too big to indict. While unemployed youths who took to yahoo yahoo and petty thieves who rob beer parlors get swift and severe jail terms, bank executives smile to the bank to cash their heist.

The audio on 500 billion Naira loot by Emefiele and his top three staff confirmed that the operating principles of CBN is a cesspool of greed, ethics, and criminal intent. From the audio, Nigerians now know that the CBN is an ungovernable, unregulated, hyper-concentrated financial institution that exacerbates the greed and inequality that are responsible for bank crash and bank failures.

While the nation awaits the official response from President Muhammadu Buhari, one can hazard a conjecture that Aso Rock in concert with supporters of President Buhari, will argue foolishly by presenting a comforting story that minimizes the importance of this outbreak of kleptomania in the CBN. 

Emefiele and the other three looters are criminal outliers and rogue profiteers determined to exploit the free fall corrupt culture and climate of Nigeria. The contagion of corruption has spread faster and furious as expected in a country haunted since its founding by the perils of corruption.

The EFCC is nothing to brag about. Till tomorrow, it has had seizures of conscience when it comes to investigating and prosecuting big whales and sharks of corruption like the Emefieles of the world. 

Emefiele has been renominated by President Buhari to a second five-year term. With the audio, Emefiele should resign today as CBN Governor. If he refused to quit, President Buhari should for once show some spine without wasting time and show Emefiele the way out. This is another textbook example that will serve a litmus test on how Buhari fights corruption. So far, his record on his war on corruption has been selective and sordid.

Leadership is best caught than learned. Leadership is by example. Change should and must begin with President Buhari and not the other way round.

bjoluwasanmi@gmail.com

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