by Stanley Azuakola
The suspension of Sanusi Lamido yesterday as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) came as a shock to Nigerians who mostly expected that the talkative banker would be allowed to serve out his tenure.
Some reports today claim that initially the president sought to effect Sanusi’s suspension through the senate but later decided to use this executive route due to fear that going through the legislature would be opposed by Northern senators.
On the same day Sanusi was suspended, Godwin Emefiele was nominated to take over at the expiration of Sanusi’s tenure and it seems that though most media houses were caught off guard – Thisday was not.
The first interesting thing about Thisday newspaper’s reportage of Sanusi’s suspension and Emefiele’s nomination is how they’ve framed their headlines and their stories on the issue.
“President Jonathan nominates Calm and Steady Emefiele,” read one headline
“After the Sanusi storm, Emefiele brings calm to the Central Bank,” read another.
Thisday stories have all tried to create an impression that there will be a positive gulf between the tenure of Sanusi and that of his successor where Emefiele will represent a break from the ‘bad’ Sanusi days.
The most curious thing however is that for almost a week Thisday has been propping Emefiele’s image. His face has been plastered on the Thisday online homepage since 16th February. He was featured as Guest of the Week on their homepage.
Anyone who takes more than a cursory look at the said feature will see that it was a rushed work whose aim was PR for Emefiele. He needs it of course. The man is relatively unknown for one who has been in charge of one of Nigeria’s biggest banks for almost four years. Traditionally, Thisday’s Guest of the Week feature is all about questions for the guest. But for Emefiele, he was a guest without any questions. All Thisday was interested in was giving us the man’s history and achievements in office. They did not intervie him but probably wanted him featured as “Guest of the Week” because that item is usually left untouched on the homepage for a whole week and sometimes more than that.
Meanwhile, guess what the title of the said feature was: Emefiele’s calm and steady leadership keeps Zenith on top. The paper has rehashed that headline in several formats in the last 48 hours.
The feature was littered with lines like: “A system’s-person and unassuming achiever, Emefiele knows and understands banking and the unique Nigerian economy like the palms of his hands.” Those, of course, are traits a CBN governor should have, right? The aim of Emefiele’s handlers and Thisday apparently was to emphasise a certain ‘calmness’ and ‘steadiness’ that comes with Emefiele so that when the announcement is finally made as it was yesterday, no one can say Emefiele is an underwhelming leader or one who remained obscured in the shadow of Zenith Bank’s founder and former CEO, Jim Ovia – no, Emefiele is “calm and steady” that’s why. Get the point?
So it’s likely Thisday was not aware of Emefiele’s impending appointment. It’s likely that their feature on him as Guest of the Week without asking him a single question and the fact that his face has been plastered on their homepage for five days now was all just a coincidence. It’s likely their coverage of the man since his appointment has not been a PR job. It’s likely. Yeah, it’s likely.
**The piece is strictly the writer’s views