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2023 Presidency:  Will Emefiele Bow to Pressure, Enter The Race?

Godwin emefiele
Nigeria's Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele briefis the media during the MPC meeting in Abuja, Nigeria January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

May 08, (THEWILL) – The race for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) received a boost with the purchase of the presidential nomination forms of the party for the astute economist and current Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr, Godwin Emefiele, last Friday by the Rice Farmers Association, Emefiele Support Group and Friends of Godwin, who are all urging the reserve bank chief to run for president.

Emefiele, who had previously said he would not be distracted by calls to join the presidential race, has not accepted the forms as at the time of writing and neither has he or the CBN commented on the latest development.

It would be recalled that the CBN governor has been rumoured to be in the race for the APC ticket to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari since late 2021.

Many prominent Nigerians, who believe the next Nigeria President should be a technocrat and an astute economist, have been looking in his direction and called on him to obtain the nomination form to contest the ruling party’s presidential primary.

Also, former founding state chairmen of the APC had advised the party’s leadership to work towards ensuring Emefiele’s emergence as presidential flagbearer.

The state chairmen of legacy parties that merged to form the APC had opined that Emefiele’s candidature was necessary for the party to avoid the political dangers ahead. According to them, the CBN governor has widespread acceptability to return the ruling party to power at both the centre and state levels in the coming general election.

They charged the party’s leadership not only to draft Emefiele into the race, but to also give him the necessary support to emerge as presidential candidate, if the party is truly interested in winning the forthcoming presidential election

They said they had keenly observed the electioneering campaigns “that have been going on in our great party ahead of the 2023 presidential elections

“We have seen how bigwigs and money bags have been jostling for the only ticket available in our party. We are of the opinion that this unwieldy number of aspirants is not good enough for our party and its future.

“In searching for a way out in a  manner that will be free of rancour and ensure  electoral victory for us in 2023, we have come to the conclusion that our party should draft the CBN governor into the race and give him all the institutional supports to lead APC to the  2023 contest .

“It is very clear that Emefiele’s candidacy is the best for our party because it will not only lead us to victory, but his emergence as the next president will also see his administration continuing, consolidating and expanding the legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari. Our leaders must make this important choice quickly in the interest of the party, our nation and indeed all its citizens,” they said.

However, despite pressure on Emefiele to declare for presidency, he had consistently maintained that he is more interested in helping President Muhammadu Buhari to finish his tenure well and ensure the success of his economic recovery agenda.

While responding to a campaign by Friends of Godwin Emefiele, a political group urging him to give the presidency a shot, and other associations mounting pressure on him, Emefiele in March 2022 said he was more interested in helping President Muhammadu Buhari finish well.

He said “My focus at this time is a robust monetary policy and fighting inflation, which is now a global problem; building a strong financial system in an increasingly uncertain global economy, development finance and supporting farmers and manufacturers in our self-sufficiency and import substitution drive, raising N15 trillion for InfraCo infrastructure financing, building a world-class International Financial Centre in Lagos, as well as supporting the @MBuhari adm”

He said he remained focused on his job and will continue his support for the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government’s economic recovery drive.

Emefiele said in his career trajectory, right from his days as a young banker, he never asked, nor lobbied for a job.

Emiefiele, who said he remained humbled by President Buhari’s decision to grant him an unprecedented second term as CBN Governor, insisted he will remain loyal to the President and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

On the 2023 Presidency and who succeeds President Buhari, Emefiele said he believed it was “the prerogative of President Muhammadu Buhari to plan his succession in line with global best practices for good governance, for the continued peace and progress of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as such he will play his part to stabilise the economy for an orderly transition.”

Emiefiele, however, maintained he will leave his faith firmly in the hands of God, in the choice of the leadership of the country in 2023.

His friends had also in a press  statement titled “Who is Afraid of Godwin Emefiele?”, said the verbal attacks on the CBN governor over the rumoured 2023 bid are uncalled for, since he had not confirmed to anyone that “he is running for President even as he is  constitutionally qualified to do so.”

However, the statement admitted there was pressure from different groups along with unsolicited campaign for the candidacy of Emiefele in 2023 presidential election.

The statement partly reads “In the past few weeks, there have been media reports on the purported interest of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in the 2023 presidential race, leading to stampede by interested parties and vested interests, who are resorting to all sorts of blackmail, sponsored articles and choreographed comments on social media targeted at tainting Godwin Emefiele’s image, impugning his character and legacy.

“Clearly, the negative attacks are being sponsored by those who see Emefiele as a major threat to their political ambition. Truth is, Godwin Emefiele has not confirmed to anyone he is running for President even as he is constitutionally qualified to do so; he has been under pressure in the past few weeks as different groups have been putting up unsolicited campaign for his candidacy”.

Emefiele became CBN Governor on the 6th March, 2014

Prior to his joining the CBN, he spent over 26 years in commercial banking, culminating in his tenure as Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank PLC, one of Nigeria’s biggest bank.

Before his banking career, he was a lecturer in Finance and Insurance in two Nigerian Universities. Mr. Emefiele holds degrees in Banking and Finance from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and is also an alumnus of Stanford University, Harvard and Wharton Graduate Schools of Business where he took courses in Negotiation, Service Excellence, Critical Thinking, Leading Change and Strategy

The  Presidential aspirants that have purchased the presidential form, who will compete with Emefiele at the APC presidential primary coming up at the end of this month include  Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo,  APC National Leader,  Bola Tinubu, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajuiba, Lagos Pastor, Tunde Bakare, Governor Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa State, his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi, and Senator Rochas Okorocha, Governor Yahaya Bello; the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Ms Unu Onaneye, the only female and Nicholas Felix.

Others who have joined the race and are expected to purchase the form include Governor Ben Ayade, Ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Orji Kalu, ex-Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, and Senate President Ken Nnamani; the Minister of Science and Technology, Onu; and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who  is expected to join in the coming days.