Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele is playing his “last card” in the closing chapter of the high-stake power-play that has embroiled Nigeria in the past six months.
The CBN boss, who has disobeyed the Supreme Court judgment that the old N500 and N1000 notes remain legal tender until December 31, is determined to influence the outcome of the March 18 governorship election in Lagos State against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Sources said last night that the apex bank has released N500 million in new bank notes to shore up the campaign of the Labour Party (LP) in the state.
Lagos is Nigeria’s economic nerve centre and the stronghold of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The LP secured an upset against APC in the February 25 presidential polls in the state when its candidate, Peter Obi, polled 582,454 votes as against the 577,606 scored by Tinubu’s APC.
It was learnt that the N500 million windfall was mobilised through high-level CBN agents in Lagos. It was described as “Oga’s own contribution to the takeover-Lagos-from- Tinubu’s-influence, now that he has become the president-elect and will be relocating to Abuja”.
It was learnt that Emefiele had worked to ensure that Tinubu did not emerge as presidential candidate and president-elect.
Also, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai had said that the CBN governor resolved to work against Tinubu because he failed to get the APC presidential ticket.
Sources said the cash bonanza is intended to give undue advantage to the LP candidate, Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, over the two other major contestants – incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC and Mr. Olajide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose campaign and mobilisation have been seriously affected by the cash squeeze caused by Emefiele’s Naira redesign policy.
Besides, Emefiele, who hails from Delta North, is said to be an enthusiastic promoter of the “Igbo agenda” to install “our own in Alausa come May 29”.
To perfect the plot, the cooperation of a senior military officer in command position in Lagos, is said to have been secured by Emefiele.
The commander, the sources said, is expected to provide “military muscle” to the “agenda” to take over Lagos.
He was said to have similarly played a “spoiler role” on February 25 by deliberately deploying troops to provide “cover” for the massive rigging in Ajah, Lekki areas in favour of LP’s Obi.
The commander also allegedly provided “cover” for the massive rigging reported in Amuwo-Odofin, Ojo, Alaba and Iba areas. For instance, troops at his behest, reportedly “detained” the Oniba of Ibaland in his palace, ostensibly to “prevent him from being able to mobilise his people to vote Tinubu”. Troops similarly invaded the palace of Elegushi in Ikateland and openly brutalised APC supporters in viral videos. Oba Saheed Elegushi is known to be a staunch Tinubu supporter.
Emefiele, whose controversial policy is widely believed to have specifically targeted Tinubu ahead of the presidential poll, is highly unfavoured to continue in office after President Muhammadu Buhari bows out on May 29.
Incidentally, he had mounted a multi-billionaire bid for the APC presidential ticket last year in flagrant breach of the provisions of the CBN Act forbidding political partisanship.
Before he eventually chickened out of the race in May 2022, the CBN governor, according to an affidavit deposed to by the Department of State Security (DSS), had allegedly been involved in “terror financing”.
“A network of gangs and elements to help in the realisation of his presidential ambition was said to have been recruited,” said the source.
The latest secret cash largesse to the LP candidate’s campaign is coming at a time many Nigerians groan under acute cash scarcity as daily languish in endless queues at banking halls and ATM centres across the country without being able to access their savings, despite a Supreme Court order on March 3 mandating the revalidation of the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes till December 31, 2023.
Aside Emefiele’s N500 million cash, the LP has also reportedly received $2 million cash from a famous retired billionaire general, who hails from the North.
The said general had openly endorsed Obi on the understanding that he would “protect my business” interest, particularly in the oil and gas sector.
The businessman was said to have been shocked, following the announcement of Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as President-elect.
The provision of dollars for LP is to match the APC candidate in the Lagos polls “dollar-for-dollars”, the source added.
The billionaire General is widely known to be among the “group of five generals” who had done everything possible in cahoots with some others to stall the declaration of the results of the presidential election when it became clear that Tinubu was heading for clear victory.
His latest “investment” in Rhodes-Vivour is said to be an “emotional last dice” geared towards preserving his shock, being a Lagos resident who has just completed a new home believed to be worth $25 million.