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Why Cardoso, CBN Gov, Deputies Must Go, 259 CSOs Tell Tinubu

By Daud Olatunji

President Bola Tinubu is facing significant criticism from a coalition of 259 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), who have called on him to reverse his nomination of Dr. Yemi Cardoso as the new Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor. The CSOs are also urging Tinubu to withdraw his nomination of the four new deputy governors of the CBN.

In a joint petition under the aegis of the Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER), these organizations have accused the nominations and the hasty assumption of duty by the appointees of being illegal, contrary to the CBN Act, and not in line with the rule of law.

The petition, titled “A Petition Requesting Your Excellency To Immediately Review Political Appointments Into Your Administration And Correct The Glaring Imbalance Already Created Against Other Ethnic Nationalities In Nigeria,” was signed by COTER President, Dr. Peter Chima Chukwu, and General Secretary, Mallam Auta Ibrahim Koko.

The coalition sent copies of the petition to prominent figures within the federal government, including the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Accountant-General of the Federation.

The controversy around the nominations intensified when Cardoso and his deputies resumed their roles at the CBN head office in Abuja without Senate confirmation, drawing condemnation from legal and financial experts across the country. 

Several Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of commercial banks have also expressed their reservations, dubbing the appointees “politicians being drafted to further ruin the CBN and the nation’s economy.”

The CSOs have raised concerns about Cardoso’s alleged lack of relevant experience, competence, and questionable academic qualifications. 

They also highlighted that one of the nominees is currently under investigation for a “monumental fraud” by the EFCC. The coalition argues that such inadequacies make these appointees unfit to manage the CBN and the nation’s economy.

COTER has appealed to President Tinubu to conduct “due diligence” in selecting “credible, experienced, and competent Nigerian financial technocrats” to manage the CBN and Nigeria’s economy. They emphasize that the country cannot afford to be run on a “trial and error template.”

The coalition further advised President Tinubu to consider the declining value of the Naira against the Dollar and the fragile state of the economy, urging him to appoint better-qualified individuals to oversee the CBN and the nation’s economy.

While acknowledging President Tinubu’s leadership in the past 100 days, COTER cautioned that these achievements could be overshadowed if prompt action is not taken to appoint the right individuals to lead the CBN and the nation’s economy.

 

Below is the full text of COTER’s petition to the President:

His Excellency,

President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria,President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR,Aso Presidential Villa,Aso Drive, Abuja, FCT.

Your Excellency,

A PETITION REQUESTING YOUR EXCELLENCY TO IMMEDIATELY REVIEW POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS INTO YOUR ADMINISTRATION AND CORRECT THE GLARING IMBALANCE ALREADY CREATED AGAINST OTHER ETHNIC NATIONALITIES IN NIGERIA 

Your Excellency, our group, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER) is an umbrella body of 259 anti-corruption, civil society and human rights groups spread across the country. We are a Non-Governmental Organisation serving as watchdog for government policies and Implementation landmarks for the betterment of Nigeria and Nigerians in general.

We are a law-abiding and patriotic organisation whose major and ultimate objectives are probity, accountability and transparency in government for quality socio-economic development and reforms.

Our numerous anti-corruption activities and actions are aimed at assisting government and the Nigerian people to effectively tackle corruption and corrupt tendenies in high places and achieve probity and transparency for the ultimate benefits of all Nigeria citizens.

Your Excellency, COTER consistently strives to ensure accountability, probity and    transparency in governance at all levels in Nigeria and these we have been able to achieve through various anti-corruptrion rallies, press conferences, awareness and sensitisation programmes, enlightenment and engagement of government officials at all levels as well as the Nigerian people, which we organise on a regular basis.

Mr President, COTER wants to use this opportunity to commend you on the various legacy achievements your administration has recorded in your first 100 days in office as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The evidence of the enabling environment your administration has created in the various states across the country and the right policies you have put in place within this short period is glaring. Your Excellency, there is no gainsaying the fact that you have done so many great things for Nigeria in 100 days! Your administration has also within this period succeeded in further incapacitating and in many instances, decapitating insurgency and terrorism, thereby reducing the incidence of insecurity in different parts of Nigeria.

Considering the the pains and discomfort the vital steps to save the country from collapsing brought on Nigerians, your administration quickly rolled out intervention programmes and palliative packages to cushion the negative impacts of these reforms.

Of course, Your Excellency, these are just few of the lofty achievements recorded by your administration in its first 100 days in office; they’re signposts of the emergence of a greater Nigerian nation. 

Mr President, sir, at the risk of being immodest, your administration has touched most Nigerians, including those at the grassroots, through the litany of legacy projects, lofty programmes and salutary policies you have put in place in your first 100 days in office. Your Excellency, sir, your administration deserves all the accolades!

But all these lofty achievements of your administration will pale into insignificance and your legacies could even be completely erased if Your Excellency fails to act fast in order to consolidate on these achievements.

Your Excellency, therefore, recent developments in the Nigerian polity, which have elicited serious concerns in various quarters, have once again necessitated COTER’s decision to speak up without being complacent. Infact, for us, keeping quiet in the face of the abnormalities being wittingly or unwittingly foisted on the polity by your government, will amount to complicity. Mr President, sir, you must act speedily to halt and correct the glaring imbalance already being created by your recent political appointments.

Your Excellency, sir, it is imperative that you take action now in order not to continue to jeopardise your laudable achievements and lofty legacies you intend to leave behind as a true leader of the country.

Your Excellency, sir, the imbalance being foisted on Nigerians under your administration, should no longer be overlooked.

Mr President, COTER will therefore like to use this medium to demand your immediate action against the perceived ethnic jingoism and nepotism being perpetrated since your administration came into office.

Your Excellency, this dangerous development  leaves very bad taste in the mouth of all other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.

It’s disheartening that your administration and your person are being accused of promoting ethnic jingoism via recent lopsided appointments into your government.

Tongues are beginning to wag that mainly people from the South-West geo-political zone are being appointed by Your Excellency to top positions at the expense of competent and qualified individuals from other ethnic stocks in the country. We feel seriously troubled by this glaring imbalance in the political appointments your administration has made so far. It’s worrying that majority of these appointments have been made from your South-West geo-political homestead and particularly from your Yoruba kinsmen to the exclusion of other qualified and competent Nigerian citizens from other regions of the country.

Mr President, for your information, your skewed selection of political appointees into your administration has become a serious source of worry and concern for other ethnic nationalities in the country. Your administration is particularly being accused of exclusively ceding the control of Nigeria’s economy to your Yoruba kinsmen from the South-West by filling all the appointments in that sector with them. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) readily come to mind in this regard. Apart from his being a Yoruba and one of your “Lagos boys,” the competence and monetary profile of your newly appointed CBN Governor, Dr Yemi Cardoso, and even his academic records are already being questioned by financial experts and other Nigerians. Infact, commercial banks Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are said not to be comfortable with his appointment as CBN governor, citing his experience and level of competence as not relevant enough to qualify him for such a delicate office of the driver of the nation’s economy. Ditto the four new deputy governors of the CBN you have appointed. One of your deputy governor-nominees is known to have a high profile case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). So, morally, such a nominee should quietly excuse himself from the nomination. 

Your Excellency, besides that, your nomination of Cardoso and the four deputy governors as well as their hasty resumption of duty without Senate’s confirmation negate Section 8(1) & (2) and Section 11(4) of the CBN Act. This is therefore viewed as patent illegality and not in accordance with the Rule of Law.

Your Excellency, commercial bank chiefs and other major stakeholders are, therefore, already asking for the reversal of their appointments. We also lend our voice to this call. And this you can do, Your Excellency, to save your administration any embarrassment that may arise in the nearest future.

Mr President, in actual fact, Cardoso has no business running a sensitive national economic management institution as the CBN. His experience as a Commissioner in Lagos State about 20 years ago and his subsequent appointment as chairman of the board of a commercial bank are certainly not enough to qualify him for the very sensitive and highly technical position of the CBN governor. His honourary doctoral degree in Business Administration, which is a completely different discipline from his acclaimed first degree in Managerial and Administrative Studies does not also qualify him to head and manage the CBN. Mr President, we therefore appeal to you to take urgent steps to right the wrongs already done under serious pressure, we believe, in the interest of the nation’s economy and the Nigerian people. It’s important due process, as stipulated in the CBN Act, be followed. It is not too late, Mr President to do the needful in this regard by withdrawing the nomination of Cardoso and his deputies and conduct due diligence for their replacement with people who have the professional capacity, relevant experience and competence.

Your Excellency, also, of the 20 presidential aides appointed by your government recently, 15 are your Yoruba kinsmen.  Likewise, eight Yoruba from the South-West are among the Senior Special Assistants and Special Assistants you recently appointed into your government. Similarly, the Inspector-General of Police, Controllers-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigeria Immigration Service, respectively, and even the Chief of Army Staff are all your South-West kinsmen! 

Mr President, this unmistakable evidence of imbalance sends the clear signals of your non-commitment to maintaining a united Nigeria, which accommodates citizens of all ethnic stocks. But remember, majority of Nigerians from all parts of the country and not just your Yoruba kinsmen voted for you and ensured your electoral victory in the 2023 presidential election. Therefore, making lopsided appointments is not the best way to reward those citizens who risked everything, including their lives, to see you win that election. 

Your Excellency, you can’t imagine the widespread feelings of alienation and resentment this development is generating among Nigerians of other ethnic nationalities. Yes, you reserve the right to appoint people you can trust into your administration, but as stakeholders in the Nigerian nation, we plead with you to always take into consideration in your appointments the need for national unity and sense of belonging to all Nigerian citizens. You’re the President of all Nigerians and not just of your Yoruba ethnic stock.

Mr President, selective appointments into government is a timebomb capable of completely incinerating a country’s national unity, create mutual suspicion and trust issues that can eventually trigger inter-ethnic unrest. 

It may take Nigeria more than a decade to recover from the state of abyss the Buhari administration left it and Your Excellency should not aggravate this and prolong the years of recovery from this calamity. Your administration should not be seen as escalating the parlous and prostrate state Nigeria was thrusted in under Buhari. Your administration should be seen to be working to extricate Nigeria from the abyss it has been forced into by the immediate past administration of Buhari. 

Unfortunately, your administration seems to be threading the same dangerous path Nigeria was abandoned by Buhari. Your administration is being continuously accused in various quarters of now escalating the unfortunate desecration of the 1999 Constitution by your predecessor’s lopsidedness in offering Federal appointments, which you are now being accused of sustaining by putting your kinsmen in charge of the nation’s economy and other key sectors.

Your Excellency, you may not have realised this: your appointments are gradually being dominated by members of your Yoruba ethnic stock, who are now in charge of the nation’s economy and security.

 Your government is being viewed by other Nigerians as replicating and perfecting the dangerous nepotistic precedent set by your predecessor, Buhari. 

It’s ill-fitting for a Federal Government under the control of a President of your ilk to be found flagrantly breaching Nigeria’s constitution and other extant laws regulating the principle of Federal Character. 

The damaging effect and consequences of this anomalous situation will soon be felt by your government, nay the country. 

The Nigerian Federation is made up of more than 250 different ethnic groups and nationalities. It is therefore completely wrong to give your Yoruba ethnic stock control over the economy and security. 

How then do you want the remaining over 249 ethnic groups and nationalities to have the much-vaunted sense of belonging in the Nigerian state? How then do you stop them from expressing the fear of domination by your own Yoruba ethnic stock?

 Your administration ought to sustain and continue to promote the Federal Character principle introduced by the past military governments in order to effectively sustain Nigeria’s unity, ensure fairness to all sections of the country and command the loyalty of all citizens, regardless of their ethnic stock. 

Mr President, on the whole, your lopsided appointments so far are illegal and negate the spirit of the nation’s 1999 constitution, which forbids the concentration of Federal appointments in one ethnic nationality. 

Mr President, in your bid to appease and please your Yoruba ethnic stock, you’ll unknowingly be disregarding the principle of Federal Character and dangerously compromising Nigeria’s unity and national loyalty to your administration. There are ways you can take care of the people of your Yoruba ethnic stock without compromising Federal Character principle and endangering the corporate integrity of the country. This is the only way Nigeria under your administration can achieve significant economic growth and national unity. But with the current situation of things under your administration, Nigeria is not in the best form and shape. 

Mr President, you must realise that it’s impossible for government appointees from your Yoruba ethnic stock alone to provide all the solutions to Nigeria’s current socio-political and economic problems. They alone cannot effectively tackle the perennial problem of insecurity bedevilling the country for decades now and they cannot also guarantee the delivery of democracy dividends of democracy to all Nigerian citizens. 

And so, COTER wants to advise your Excellency that just as you did during your tenure as the governor of Lagos State over 20 years ago, your current administration as Nigeria’s President must be an agglomeration of brilliant Nigerians, home and abroad. This will effectively restore your acclaimed reputation as a leader of a multi-ethnic Nigerian nation imbued with fairness. You must be concerned about leaving your footprints on the positive portion of the sands of time.

Mr President, this is the only way you can give all other Nigerians the rare opportunity to contribute their quota to the development of Nigeria under an atmosphere of national unity. Your government must be truly representative of Nigerian citizens from all parts of the country.

 It is only when this is done through your appointments that you’ll be fulfilling your duty as the President of all Nigerians and also live up to the oath you took as the nation’s overall leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. 

Your Excellency, it’s not in the best interest of the country for Mr President to surround himself with only people of his ethnic stock, rather than brilliant individuals who can deliver on his promises to all Nigerians. Your lopsided offers of political appointments have so far further polarised and divided Nigerians along ethnic lines. Mr President, this is not the “Renewed Hope” Nigerians expected from your administration.

Your Excellency, concentrating your appointments on the “Lagos boys” and your South-West kinsmen will only continue to reinforce the belief amongst Nigerians of other ethnic nationalities of your alleged desperation to outdo your predecessor, Buhari in the game of nepotism and ethnic domination that he adeptly played throughout his eight-year tenure as Nigeria’s president. We’ll be glad if you can prove your current critics wrong by immediately righting the wrongs already done to other ethnic nationalities by your selective political appointments so far. 

 

Mr President, COTER, therefore, appeals to you to immediately reverse the nomination of Cardoso and his deputies and rather carry out due diligence to get credible, experienced and competent Nigerian financial technocrats within the country and abroad to efficiently and effectively manage the CBN and Nigeria’s economy. The country can no longer afford to be run on a trial and error template. Mr President should take into consideration the fast dwindling fortune of the Naira against the Dollar and the resultant parlous state of the economy and immediately take action now to rescue the country’s battered economy for the overall good of the Nigerian people.

 

Your Excellency, it’s our fervent prayers and hope that you will urgently take into consideration the concerns we have raised in this petition and immediately take the necessary steps to address them.

 

Signed

 

Dr Peter Chima Chukwu

 

President, COTER 

 

Mallam Auta Ibrahim Koko

 

General Secretary, COTER

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