History is replete with examples of leaders who use their management expertise and or leadership acumen to bail their nations or companies from seemingly hopeless situations. Working in tandem with the saying that “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” such leaders would, in management terms, be equated to pulling their chestnut out of fire.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, may qualifyfor inclusion in the list of such globally renowned business, corporate, and political leaders of yore. One thing that cannot be denied even by his critics is that he has pulled off a management coup of a kind by initiating a well-thought out policy which is reviving the nation’s currency at a time when it had become fashionable to write it off as a “dead and buried” case.
Recall that no sooner had the President Muhammadu Buhari administration mounted the saddle in 2015 than the naira started dancing “kaplongo,” free-falling against the United States of America’s almighty dollar like never before. Before our very eyes, the Nigerian currency crashed from just above N200 to the dollar to an alarming N350, then N400, then N510, and so on. By the time the naira was inching in the region of N600 to the dollar last month, concerns had turned to alarm and outrage, with not a few compatriots questioning the CBN Governor’s competence.
Like every other corporate leader doing a thankless job, Emefiele took the barbed arrows in his strides, even as he remained focused on the task at hand. After all, at the root of the whole quagmire was the need to block the loopholes which reigned supreme prior to the advent of the Buhari government.
For example, back then, it was customary for anyone who had embezzled public fund to waltz to a Bureau de Change and exchange billions of naira for dollars just like that. Aside from that, Nigeria was bleeding financially and economically on account of the recklessness that pervaded the importation spree which held sway hitherto. With unhindered access to foreign exchange, virtually everybody imported whatever they felt like, including tooth-picks, tomato paste, sand and what have you. The consequences, needless to say, were dire, leading to (among others) the current economic recession. Emefiele was, therefore, saddled with the unenviable task of blocking the scandalous leakage. This he did by wielding the hammer, restricting access to foreign exchange to importation of non-essential items.
Amidst the unintended pain induced by that bold policy, the dollar’s valve spiraled at the expense of the naira thereby worsening the prevailing economic malaise in the country. In fact, with each passing month, the dollar waxed stronger while its Nigerian counterpart waned in value even as inflation rose sky-high. The situation seemed hopeless.
Enter Emefiele’s magic wand. Under his able leadership, the CBN, while implementing the directive of the National Economic Council (NEC) headed by Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, introduced the new wave-making foreign exchange policy. The “gist” of the new policy is the loosening of the restrictions that had hitherto encumbered the market, thereby easing dollar-scarcity.
The effect has been rather dramatic. Almost instantly, the dollar started crashing like a pack of cards thereby shoring up the naira’s value. For the first time in what appears like eternity, a breath of fresh air has petered into the hitherto one-side foreign exchange market, easing the economic/financial burden on long-suffering Nigerians considerably. Should this trend continue, analysts will give way to ascension sooner than later.
Expectedly, encomiums are being showered on the CBN Governor from the left, right and centre. And rightly so, too. With one stroke of visionary policy, Emefiele has helped turned a seemingly impossible situation into the veritably possible. His courage, foresight and management acumen are worthy of emulation.
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