“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” –Nelson Mandela during an address in Soweto, South Africa, on July 12, 2008.
As Nigeria approaches the all-important 2023 election, it is pertinent that we take a cursory look at the quote above and internalize it. This quote must guide us in answering the question about the type of leader the country needs in 2023 and beyond. The leadership that must assume power in 2023 as has already been widely posited, must be one that comes with the necessary temperament, the economic acumen, the national outlook, and the political will to navigate the ship of state away from the murky waters that multi-faceted problems have conspired to inflict economic collapse, that now poses an existential threat to Nigeria’s cooperate existence.
The major issue before us as a country today has to do largely with the economy. When the economy is fixed, automatically, a heightened level of productive engagement ensues. When people are engaged in productive activities, there will be no idle hands to recruit into groups that will cause insecurity. Conversely, fixing the economy automatically plugs into fixing the security situation in the country. In the last couple of years, Nigeria has been negatively impacted by the covid-19 pandemic and a fall in global oil prices. While these issues have had some level of negative impact on the country, the full impact was not felt because of the economic sagacity of the current leadership in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Mr. Godwin Ifeanyichukwu Emefiele through several CBN-initiated intervention programs has held the Nigerian economy afloat despite the negative headwinds. As CBN governor who understands the critical role a buoyant economy plays in the stability of a country, Mr. Emefiele has rolled out intervention programs for businesses in the critical sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture. Households were also not left out. But for these well-thought-through interventions, the impact of the pandemic and the global fall in oil prices would have created an economic pandemic in the country. All thanks to the CBN governor who has employed non-traditional monetary policy tools with these intervention programs, Nigeria can at least, breathe with relative ease.
Mr. Emefiele himself during an interactive session had this to say; “And I can tell you this, between 2020 and now, our data shows that we have disbursed at least N2trillion, almost N3trillion in loans to households, to MSMEs, to smallholder farmers, to pharmaceuticals and health institutions. We have also given funds to some of our large agricultural companies that want to get back again to business, to manufacturing companies who are access long term 10 years loan with two-year moratorium and single digit rate. I have data that shows we are playing our part.”
One can see that these intervention programs were properly thought through with the principal aim of supporting the key economic drivers in the country. Only recently, we witnessed first-hand the direct impact of some of these agricultural interventions when the Rice pyramids once again came alive. Due to massive support from the CBN, farmers were able to exceed production projections. At the July 2021 MPC, the CBN governor disclosed that 3,734,939 smallholder farmers, cultivating 4.6million hectares of farmland had benefitted from the disbursement of =N=735.51 billion. One can only imagine what could have happened but for these interventions.
Aside from his prodigious grasp of the economy, Mr. Emefiele also possesses the necessary temperament needed to calm frayed nerves in the country. With all manner of politically interested individuals heating up the polity with incendiary remarks, another quality that Mr. Emefiele brings to the table is his measured temperament. This quality is as important as any other. Nigeria is a delicate country that requires a leader with high emotional intelligence. Rather than panic and cause chaos considering the level of information available to him as the CBN governor, he took timely steps to nip the problems in the bud by focusing significantly on these intervention programs. Even in the face of scary global projections, Mr. Emefiele’s demeanor comes across as reassuring and calming. When the followers see that the leader is calm, they are more inspired.
While Mr. Emefiele’s competence and economic acumen are what make him qualified for the job of the president of Nigeria at this critical period, we are also not oblivious of the fact that there is a growing clamour for a power shift to the southern part of the country. Not only is this clamour for power to shift to the south a legitimate one, but there is also a specific demand for the power to shift to the south-east, who are yet to have a shot at the highest office in the land. Again, Mr. Emefiele fits perfectly into this demand.
In Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Nigerians will be having a president who is not only intellectually fecund and economically competent, we are also going to be having a president who has the required broadmindedness, temperament, and also addresses the long-held clamour for a president of Igbo extraction. It is time we begin to look at an Emefiele presidency for the many benefits that will be coming along with it.