February 24, (THEWILL) – A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Thursday, condemned what it called a ‘smear campaign’ against the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over alleged moves to join the presidential race ahead of the 2023 general election.
The Groups in a statement jointly signed by the Executive Director and South-South Coordinator, African Leadership Strategy and Transparency Development Initiative, Nelson Ossaieze; South-West Coordinator and Coordinator, Centre for Joint Action Against Underdevelopment and Poverty in Africa, Olumide Kingsley Egbeola; Focal Person and South-East Coordinator, Advocacy for Good Governance; North-West Coordinator, Network for Advancement of Democracy in Africa; North-East Coordinator, Arewa Peace, Development and Democratic Front, Mallam Mohammed Ali; North-Central Coordinator, Zero Tolerance and Anti-Corruption Network, Hajia Binta Ibrahim; Secretary General, Coalition of Civil Society Groups, Abubakar Ibrahim; and President, Coalition of Civil Society Groups, Bassey Etuk Williams; described a fake news, report on an online medium which they said was sponsored to tarnish the image of the CBN boss.
According to the statement, the CBN Governor has rendered selfless service to galvanise the economy via various intervention programmes to sustain the economy amidst devastating challenges, to boost the productive base of the economy and position it to create wealth that would in turn diversify the income base of government and provide stable levels of income.
They also pointed that any sincere analyst of Nigerian affairs, “without bias induced amnesia, would recall that things got so bad that states couldn’t even fulfil their most basic of responsibility to pay salaries, not to talk of building much needed infrastructure for their people.
“Within this chaos Mr Emefiele brought order and has implemented an unprecedented number of interventions that have created a new class of engaged citizenry and strengthened key sectors of the economy such as agriculture. The launch of the historical rice pyramid amidst several contradictions still no doubt is a shock to the nay-sayers. Could it be that his only crime against those behind this new wave of vitriol against him is that his programmes have turned out to be a resounding success?”
The statement reads in part, “The attention of Coalition of Civil Society Groups has been drawn to another round of campaign of calumny against the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by the controversial online Blog, Sahara Reporters story, titled “2023: Central Bank Governor, Emefiele, Brings In Three Airplanes For Presidential Campaign, Asked To Resign By Buhari Government Cabal”, alleging that Mr Godwin Emefiele has allocated about N500 billion for his presidential ambition, leveraging his edge as the manager of the country’s most critical financial institution.
“It is important to know that these baseless allegations were not new, as it has become the priority of Sahara Reporters and its co-travellers, to engage in smear campaign against Mr Godwin Emefiele, but as usual to their disappointment, it will not fly, because it is not true.
“Therefore, this latest round of smear campaign is one of the series of campaigns of calumny by these disgruntled characters, to malign the CBN Governor and the bank as an institution. Yet, typical of blackmailers and mischief makers despite failures, they have refused to give up.
“The online news medium’s latest report against Mr Emefiele, is obviously fake and non-existent. It is only in their imagination and its sponsors, that one individual would have purchased three aircrafts for a political campaign and kept a whooping N500 billion for the same purpose.
“If it wasn’t for the timing, this puerile concoction masquerading as a news report would have passed for mere comic relief, but knowing the dangers of fake news to social cohesion, there is a need to set the records straight as a responsible arbiter between government and the governed.
“The platform that published this assemblage of downright falsehood, which could only have been the product of a fertile imagination, has a well documented history of making such publications capable of demeaning the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its institutions. But as a patriotic group, we cannot be bystanders at such a critical moment in our nation’s history, as it is our goal to ensure that public institutions are not drawn into the muddy waters of partisan politics.
“It is a fact that these people couldn’t find their voices or even their pens when the nation was flush with cash and this excess was not invested in the productive base of the economy. That only now they are beginning to rack their imagination to come up with fictitious figures from institutions not under management of the CBN, as sponsors of a so-called presidential campaign shows clearly the source, even though their cowardice wouldn’t let them come out openly.”
The statement also warned that, “The coalition will no longer tolerate any attempt to put the unity of Nigeria at risk, through the potent instrumentality of fake news and malicious reports.
“We will henceforth not hesitate to name names behind these falsehoods being spread in the public space for personal gain. It is an indisputable fact that the 2023 elections have not even commenced and we urge politicians to take the backseat and allow the government of the day finish their term in office and wait until the ban on campaigns are lifted before speculating on who is contesting for what and making statements capable of heating the polity further. Godwin Emefiele has not wronged the long suffering people of Nigeria by his policies that have created jobs and strengthened the productive base of the economy.
“It is really worrisome that some people could condescend so low to fabricate baseless allegations against the CBN Governor, for reasons that could best be described as mischievous. It is equally worrisome that Sahara Reporters could lend space for this obvious mischief. We really do not believe that it is because the price is right.”
The Groups also urged Nigerians to disregard the campaign of calumny against the CBN Governor as all the allegations were baseless and unfounded.
“For the unscrupulous elements and their cohorts, these campaigns would prod the CBN governor and the management of the Bank, to continue to serve the nation diligently and with utmost zeal and those whose immoral and illegitimate livelihoods have been affected by these people oriented policies would do well to support the Nigerian economy and help create jobs for our teeming youth to keep them out of the reach of criminal elements”, the statement added.