Godwin Emefiele: Nigeria’s Golden Icon Par Excellence

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria

Mr. Godwin Emefiele is a Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). He is also the multiple award-winning Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria since June 4, 2014. Mr. Emefiele was elevated into the esteemed position while he was serving meritoriously as Chief Executive officer and Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, a  position he rose to after joining the management team of the bank from inception in 2001 inception.

It is by no means a surprise that for the first time since 1999, the inception of Nigeria’s latest democratic dispensation, Emefiele has earned the distinction of having his tenure renewed for another 5-year tenure after satisfactorily delivering on the expectations of Nigerians in his first term. His reappointment was also recently confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on Thursday, May 16, 2019. This means that he also will have a rare record of serving three different regimes, since he was initially appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan and now reappointed by President Muhammadu Buhari whose tenure ends in 2023 and, of course, a new president thereafter.

Emefiele’s reappointment is especially well-deserved because he has continually shown that he has the capacity to turn rust to gold as he has recorded layers upon layers of achievements throughout his illustrious career as Governor of the CBN. Apparently, Emefiele shares the same principles with John Maxwell who said “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”  Thus, whatever the odds, Emefiele finds a way to navigate the ship to the desired destination.

Emefiele’s winning streak has endeared him, not only to various governments but to various stakeholders across the divide. This has seen him etching his name in gold wherever he has had to put his professional experience into good use and being endowed with awards from the media, professional bodies and other critical stakeholders.

Indeed, Emefiele has also received the BRANDPOWER Golden Awards in 2018 for the Most Innovative Economic Regulator as a result of his various interventions in the Nigerian economy which could otherwise have resulted in the total collapse of the economy with the extreme decimations going on in the country through the unsavoury actions and inactions of governments at various levels and the citizenry.

Emefiele is an alumnus of Executive Education at Stanford UniversityHarvard University (2004) and Wharton School of Business (2005) where he took courses in Negotiation, Service Excellence, Critical Thinking, Leading Change and Strategy. He also holds a B.Sc. degree in Finance in 1984 and an MBA Degree in Finance in 1986, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Emefiele’s stellar performance was evident in his job as an academic and devoted resource builder when he lectured Finance and Insurance at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and University of Port Harcourt, respectively in the aftermath of his educational pursuits in 1986.

He further affirmed his leadership savvy and strategic sagacity in commercial banking as CEO and Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank when he led the second phase of the post-consolidation journey of the bank by strengthening its position as a leading financial institution in Africa, winning recognition and endorsements at home and abroad for giant strides in key performance areas like corporate governance, service delivery and deployment of cutting-edge ICT.

Most importantly, however, has been his immense contributions to the Nigerian economy, through his well-timed and co-ordinated intervention programmes since June 3, 2014.  In June 2015, the CBN under Emefiele introduced a list of 41 items banned from being imported with forex accessed from the official forex market. Though this policy was highly criticised by foreign media and some business men in Nigeria, the implementation of the policy went on to increase patronage for local goods and stimulate local production significantly.

Bureau De Change (BDC) operators have also been brought under control to check the excesses by majority of their members which reportedly led to the continued depreciation of the Naira over the years. The bank has also been actively involved in its periodic OMO interventions through which it mops up excess liquidity to curtail inflation and boost investors’ confidence in Nigeria’s fixed income securities such as Treasury Bills and Bonds.

Experts on the economy and the financial markets opine that no governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria had faced the myriad of economic turbulence and challenges that Emefiele has had to go through successfully throughout his tenure. This includes economic recession, fast receding foreign reserves, falling oil prices, inflation and geopolitical tensions across the world and within Nigeria which affected the flow of funds; all leading to negative growth which by the third quarter of 2016 climaxed to a negative 2.3 per cent. This led to exchange rate free-fall and created multiple challenges for the economy. Somehow, however, Emefiele has always ridden the storm and brought the economy back to calmer waters.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Jim Ovia, the Chairman of Zenith Bank PLC, himself a banker of no mean repute, at a ceremony in December 2017, declared that Emefiele’s performance and current results “puts him as the best Central Bank Governor in the history of Nigeria.”

Emefiele, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan introduced an innovative agriculture credit programme, the Anchor Borrowers Programme. This has positively transformed the agricultural sector in the country. .

Under Emefiele, the CBN is implementing a N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) to provide concessionary finance to MSMEs. This has stepped up self-employment generation in the economy.

CBN’s intervention under Emefiele has assisted more than 30 states of the federation with concessionary loans to offset salary arrears for their workers to stimulate demand and improve the economy and avert disaster through insolvency of the states.

Just recently the Central Bank has in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, as part of efforts to boost job creation in Nigeria, particularly among the youth, introduced a Creative Industry Finance Initiative (CIFI). It is also believed that this initiative will go long way to further boost our GDP, engage our teeming number of youth meaningfully and create wealth.

Godwin Emefiele was born on August 4, 1961 in Ika, Delta State. He is married with 2 children and originally wanted to become a university professor but with his stellar performance at the zenith of the banking profession at both the commercial and regulatory ends, he might very well pass for an undisputed professor of banking in Nigeria.

In Godwin Emefiele, BRANDPOWER celebrates a true Golden Nigerian Icon.

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