10 March, 2020
Dear Governor Emefiele,
CBN Consultative Roundtable: A Conscientious Objection
I received an Invitation, at short notice, to be a panelist at a CBN Consultative Roundtable Session taking place in Abuja tomorrow. Whilst thanking you for the Invitation, I believe the correct thing for me to do is to respectfully decline to participate.
It is true that I am currently out of the country, but it is also true that I could have reorganised my activities and flown into Abuja in time to join you tomorrow morning. My refusal to join you has more to do with the monumental events that took place yesterday viz the removal of the Emir of Kano from office and the release of information that purportedly seeks to exile him and restrict his movements or confine them to a little known enclave in Nassarawa State.
My wife and I were invited to the Commonwealth Service that held in Westminster Abbey in London yesterday and so we witnessed a colourful ceremony which included speeches by a variety of personalities, including Anthony Joshua, the Nigerian-British heavyweight boxing champion. Anthony Joshua and other speakers yesterday reminded us eloquently about what can go right when we embrace the forces of modernity whilst recognising and upholding our proud cultural heritage. At the exact same time, I was distracted by disturbing news from Kano yesterday which confirmed what can go wrong, when those in authority pay lip service to the Nigerian Constitution and then proceed to violate the fundamental freedoms that it guarantees each individual because they prefer to cling to practices like exile which they learnt from colonial masters and the military. These practices have no place in a democratic dispensation.
The theme for your Roundtable Session is Going for Growth. Rapid growth is only achieved on the back of significant investment activity. Going for growth should therefore be a holistic concept that embraces the sum total of actions and activities that we need to encourage in order to boost investor confidence, including respect of individual freedoms and the rule of law. Sadly, yesterday’s events have turned back the clock at a time when our economy is at a precipice and when we need to tell ourselves some home truths and speak truth to power in a constructive manner.
By coincidence, the Ex-Emir of Kano is your predecessor in office at CBN. Ordinarily, he qualifies to be invited for tomorrow’s event. Did you invite him?
I have decided to stay away from your Consultative Roundtable and to instead use the opportunity of this letter to draw the attention of a wider audience to my displeasure with the events of yesterday. Please forgive me because I am in no mood to immediately pretend as if all is well by proceeding with business as usual.
At an appropriate time I will send you my thoughts on how to quickly eliminate the policy inconsistencies that threaten the stability of our macroeconomy as CBN continues to seek to defy the odds by simultaneously pursuing a low domestic interest rate regime which clearly cannot coexist with high inflation and naira exchange rate stability in the face of collapsed/collapsing oil prices and an insatiable and uncontrolled appetite for foreign currency loans. This unsustainable policy mix has spooked investors (local and foreign), thereby making it increasingly likely that the Nigerian economy slides back into a recession, unless you quickly embark on some course correction.
I wish you happy deliberations tomorrow.
Atedo N A Peterside CON