Godwin Emefiele assumed office six years ago as the 10th indigenous Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and while building on his predecessors’ achievements, he has by no comparison, brought novelties in Nigeria’s central banking operations to the admiration of even his acerbic critics.
Despite coming into office when Nigeria’s economic mainstay, crude oil price, had declined by about 60 percent and then erroneously blamed for the subsequent woes ranging from a severely impacted economy. And for the first time in twenty-five years, a recession in 2015 coupled with the ensuing media feast about the depreciation of the Naira, and alleged criminal depletion of the country’s foreign reserves, the loaded Emefiele, a development banker with pedigree unknown to these critics, was prepared.
The unfazed Emefiele led-CBN management was of the belief that the Bank should act as financial catalyst, targeting predetermined sectors that could create jobs on a mass scale and reduce the country’s import bills and dependence on oil.
He brought on board, novelties similar to the 2006 Novel Prize winner in social business/social entrepreneurship model, Professor Mohammed Yunus, former helmsman at Grameen Bank of Bangladesh.
Grameen Bank was a microfinance organisation and community development bank founded in Bangladesh. It was also called the ‘bank for the poor’.
The model was inspired during Bangladesh severe famine of 1974, when Yunus decided to make a loan of US$24bn to about 9 million borrowers as a start-up money to enable them produce items for sale without the burdens of high interest rate under predatory lending.
He believed that making such loans available to a larger population could stimulate businesses and reduce widespread poverty in Bangladesh.
This model underscores Godwin Emefiele’s monetary policy initiatives which critics have tagged ‘unorthodox or toothpick’ monetary policy in which he embarked on a series of developmental initiatives to create an enabling environment with appropriate incentives to empower innovative entrepreneurs, particularly the youths, aimed at driving growth and sustainable development.