With a Central Bank of Nigeria governor like Godwin Emefiele, who is notoriously bad at his job, and the fact that the Muhammadu Buhari government has made it so that anything goes for the last seven years, I wouldn’t be surprised if the main reason the CBN wants to redesign the naira is to put Buhari’s face on one of the bills.
If you think my way of thinking is crazy, which it is, remember that wildly implausible absurdities are what this regime trades in. Emefiele, who should know more about Nigeria’s monetary policy than anyone else, once thought that the value of the naira was falling because a Nigerian-owned website in the UK called AbokiFX was publishing the black-market exchange rates for the naira.
Emefiele even offered to fight Oniwinde Adedotun, the owner of AbokiFX, in order to get the value of the naira back up. That’s not a normal person whose judgment can be trusted and who can be defended against people with crazy goals.
Even though he was supposed to be apolitical as CBN governor, he ran for president on the platform of the ruling APC party. He didn’t win, but this was a new kind of stupidity that broke all the rules. In what society is that even a little bit normal?
In a May 14, 2022 column called “Emefiele: A Corrupt, Incompetent, Heart-Attack-Loving Presidential Wannabe,” I called him “infernally incompetent, exceptionally corrupt, mind-blowingly self-serving, incomprehensibly clueless, overweeningly ambitious, and cruelly insensitive.” I also said that he had been involved in partisan political corruption since PDP was in power. He keeps getting worse.
Now, think about how Buhari put Ahmed Halilu, the older brother of his wife Aisha, in charge of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting, which makes the country’s money. Late in 2019, Halilu was quietly named one of the only two executive directors at the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting. I told people about it in a column I wrote on October 19, 2019, called “Buhari’s House of Commotion and Mamman Daura’s “Glass House.”
People either didn’t care or were too busy to react, which is how Nigerians usually feel about the government’s mistakes, so Buhari went ahead and made his brother-in-law the head of the company that prints Nigeria’s money on September 1, 2022. Again, no one thought anything of it.
With an ineffective, uninformed, obedient, servile, and partisan CBN governor like Emefiele who is beholden to the Aso Rock cabal and Buhari’s brother-in-law as the head of the company that will print the redesigned naira notes, would it be a surprise if Buhari’s portrait appeared on, say, the 200 naira note, especially given Buhari’s recent obsession with how he will be remembered when he
And Emefiele and Halilu have something to follow. In January 1973, Idi Amin of Uganda decided to change his country’s money and put his picture on it.
This story from Reuters on January 29, 1973, is worth reprinting because it shows some of what could happen in Nigeria in the next few days: “Since Uganda got a new currency, lots of people have been going to banks to trade in their old bills.