My search for answers to the depreciation of the Naira two days ago led me to a frank discussion with one of the well informed experts on finance who might not want her name to be mentioned here.
Part of the problem, apart from the low price of crude oil and our high demand for the dollar to settle our export bills, is the local management of our resources and the lack of confidence that experts have globally in the current CBN Governor. When one compares him with his immediate predecessor, SLS, now HRH, Muhammadu Sanusi II, the difference is profound.
SLS came in when the world was facing a meltdown and the price of oil also started to fall sharply towards the end of his tenure; yet, he was able to navigate the waters of his position properly to prevent Nigeria from catching the cold and the Naira losing its value. Also, he didn't take a year before he started earning international awards. That sustained a good measure of confidence in the economy... This is not to mention SLS's activism that challenged the stautus quo in many areas, from the National Assembly to the Presidency, to Ministry of Finance, to NNPC, etc.
His successor, Mr. Godwin Emelefe, one can say is almost a direct opposite of SLS, with nothing close to the above achievements or characteristics. The last time we heard of him was how he was disgraced in Washington when he led some businessmen who were indicted in the fuel subsidy scandal to gatecrash on the President. Meanwhile, the Naira continues to fall by the day...without any forthcoming from the Central Bank Governor. Forgive me if I am a bit harsh on him. He is my banker. I am a Zenith Bank customer. Remember that the customer in always right.
I told my friend that if Sanusi was so good, the President should consider him for a position, may be the Minister of Finance, in order to realise our change dream. Her immediate and instinctive response was the same as yours now: "But he is an Emir. Can an Emir also be a Minister?" A simple innocent question.
My response was to throw the answer back at her: Is there any law that prevents the President from appointing a traditional ruler into a position in government. As a traditional ruler, SLS is already a public servant.
She immediately conceded that it will be okay then and even informed me of SLS's recent appointment as an adviser to one of the international economic fora.
I am not saying that SLS must be recycled. There could be some who may be technically more sound that him. Of course there must be. However, where a situation requires someone that is perpetually bold, charismatic, prudent, active, experienced, renowned and in tune with the present heartbeat of the nation, than him is difficult to contemplate someone better. These are attributes I have watched in him for the past thirty-six years.
It is my sincere hope that PMB will consider SLS as as the Minister of Finance or as his adviser on finance and the head of his economic team. The President will not regret this decision.
Meanwhile we continue to pray for a hike in crude oil prices, a return of our local refining capacity, export diversification and other measures that will make our economy stronger.
I rest my case, hoping that PMB will read this piece too and act upon it accordingly.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde