Tunde Rahman and the Dilemma of Olayemi Cardoso: A Response


Kindly permit me time to respond to the above title that appeared on your column page on Saturday February 17, 2024, (Dailytrust). To set it straight forward, I understand the writer is a presidential aide, thus doing the job he was employed to do, as an image maker of the government. But being one in that position always required honesty and purposes of one’s actions and inactions. It, at the same time, required one to remember that the electorates are the real owners of the government, particularly in a government that is laying claims of being democratic.

The writer, Mr. Tunde Rahman, is a well-known media professional, thus, making someone to think twice about the above article he wrote about the current CBN governor. This is even though he is a presidential aide not CBN one. Why won’t he let the CBN image makers do their job professionally as required? Is Tunde telling us CBN image makers are incompetent to do their job professionally? More lights needed to be shed on this issue sir.

The writer went on to say Mr. Cardoso got his job based on his professional background. According to him “Those who know Mr. Olayemi Cardoso will agree he got his current job as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on a platter of solid professional background and strong personal attributes.” While the writer refused to tell his readers how Mr. Cardoso was picked out of numerous banking professionals that Nigeria is proudly having today, both domestically and internationally. For sure, there are more Nigerian professionals that are more qualified for the CBN Governor than Mr. Cardoso but were not picked by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (PBAT) for obvious reason stated by Tunde Rahman, when he said, “strong personal attributes”, thus him (Tunde Rahman) and PBAT can only expatiate on that. Literally, this “strong personal attributes” means strong personal relationship with PBAT, and not strong professional relationship. I stand to be wrong on this sir.

Interestingly, it was the same writer that tells us more about how Mr. Cardoso came into the CBN Governor’s job by saying “Cardoso also came from a very solid family… Nigeria’s late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, appointed his late father, Mr. Felix Bankole Cardoso, as the first Accountant-General of the Federation in 1963.” Again, Tunde Rahman is telling us, if Mr. Cardoso was from another family, this CBN Governor job will not be his, because of his family background. Or more detailed is that Mr. Cardoso got the job because of his late father’s connections, which without the job would slip him no matter what. And one obvious reason that more professionally qualified than Mr. Cardoso, they lost out due to low ebb connections of their families! This is Nigeria of PBAT.

It seems the writer forgets that he was writing for adult readers not kindergarten readers. The said, “Part of the remarkable private sector career of Olayemi Cardoso was his appointment as the Chairman of the Board of Citi Bank Nigeria.” Hmm. Really! When did appointment as a board chair become a professional career? Almost all board chairs are politically motivated irrespective of one’s professionalism. More often, it is one’s anticipated connections to the government of the day that determines and dictate his/her appointment, especially for organizations like Citi Bank Nigeria, where the bank was not quoted at the Stock Exchange, which if quoted t the Stock Exchange, the shareholders of the bank will decide and dictates who became the chair. As highlighted above, Olayemi was appointed Chairman of Citi Bank Nigeria, due to his father’s role in Citi Bank’s coming to Nigerian banking market. Only proper scrutiny will determine this assertion.

One should also remember that Citi Bank Nigeria had only one branch office and its Head Office in Nigerian banking history. Thus, the Board Chairman of one branch office bank raised more on one’s professional career. We should also not forget that it was the same bank that Olayemi Cardoso was Managing Director and Chief Executive (MD/CEO). Honestly, this does not qualify one to be the Governor of the Central Bank in a serious country that is serious about its Macroeconomics, Monetary and Fiscal policies. Alas, we are in Nigeria of APC!

Still on Olayemi Cardoso’s professionalism, the writer went further saying “Armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Managerial and Administrative Studies and Masters in Public Administration from the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School of Government and parading strong personal attributes, Cardoso is obviously a perfect fit for the CBN top job.” Haba Mr. Tunde, how could you compare Olayemi Cardoso, and the current minister of finance, Wale Edun? Wale Edun is supposed to be the CBN Governor, if PBAT relay means business. But because as you said Olayemi Cardoso, was from a notable family, he got the job. Compare Cardoso’s professional background and that of Wale Edun, Wale is a professional banker both domestically and internationally. For whatever reasons, your principal decided what we currently have. Wale, like numerous other Nigerians, possessed first and second degrees in economics, both from the United Kingdom, thus, they might not be prestigious to you sir.

The most surprising claim of Tunde Rahman in his writing was “Under him, the CBN seems to be doing the right thing or doing things right: thinking and working on coming up with appropriate monetary policies, moving to rein in the rising foreign exchange rates and particularly achieve an appropriate value for the naira, which Cardoso believes has been undervalued.” Haba Tunde! Is the Naira undervalued? Since the assumption and reckless decision of your principal of floating the Naira (to let it determine its value), what do you have? We now have a national currency that is valuable next to toilet paper sir. Today, even at the banks, the Naira is more than 1,500 to ONE USD! Thus, doing things right to you is letting the Naira become valueless in the World of Jagaban Burgu boys! Mr. Tunde, each and every Nigerian as well as lovers of Nigeria knew the havoc Cardoso and his principal are doing to our national economy, not only the value of the Naira. All due to your principal’s egoism of knowing better than everyone. The hast in which he implemented the fuel subsidy removal and floating exchange policies tells all. He implemented these policies with no cabinet in place, which would have provided enough room for consultation with relevant stakeholders, but due to his dictatorial nature, he went ahead without any consultation.

One cannot really understand what Tunde Rahman took his readers to be. A person of his journalistic career is supposed to remember that writing on national dailies is not for elementary school readers. He went further to indict his principal and their political party – APC by saying “But in the wake of the floating of the Naira, some of the variables shaping the value of the national currency, including limited production in the country as a result of insecurity, Nigerians’ high taste for imported products, dwindling exports, poor dollar remittances, humongous school fees of Nigerian students abroad and medical tourism all of which engendered a strong demand for dollar, far outweighing supply, seem to be clearly beyond his control.” The question here is, would the removal of subsidy and floating exchange rate address these issues? The answer is capital NO, as provided by your principal in his op-ed of January 11, 2021, titled “REMOVAL OF OIL SUBSIDY: PRESIDENT JONATHAN BREAKS SOCIAL CONTRACT WITH THE PEOPLE.” All the answers to the above issues you raised are their sir. About two weeks ago this article was trending on social media, neither you nor any of your colleagues in the Villa came out to refute the article or any of its contents.

Sir, realistically, neither Olayemi Cardoso nor Your principal, PBAT, are prepared for their jobs! In several fora, PBAT has been saying his life ambition was to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Today he is the President of the Federal Republic. What do ordinary citizen of Nigeria gain from it, cruelty to the highest level. The Nigeria PBAT inherited from his predecessors; he destroyed it completely. Today, “Janothan Tax” is much prepared and better than “BAT’s Tax” sir. Life under PBAT’s Nigeria in all its ramifications is nothing but nasty and brutish. The insecurity he inherited is just escalating. The unemployment rate is rising by the second. The inflation is becoming super hyperinflation. The remnant middle class he meets is annihilated. Toda Nigerians are slaves in their father’s country. The economy is nothing to think of in Nigeria of today sir. Clueless Jonathan and parochial Buhari put together they are a million percentage better than PBAT sir. This is the reality of Nigeria today under progressive President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Today, Hajiya Naja’atu Muhammad is laughing at all those who made the BAT presidency a reality. Do you remember her withdrawing her support of candidate BAT and calling it off from the APC? She gave a very detailed explanation at that time. She said candidate BAT asked her to meet him in London to discuss how she will contribute to his campaign. As they said, it is all now history. Hajiya Naja’atu is vindicated. All those that called her names at that time should kindly apologize to her. One of the reasons she gave at the time was that candidate BAT has no blueprint for the insecurity that was ravaging Northern Nigeria, as well as what will be the fate of her constituency under BAT presidency. Today, not only does it lack a blueprint for Northern Nigeria, but it also appears PBAT has no blueprint for Nigeria as a country! Particularly going the above article of BAT published January 2012. The Nigeria of today, is completely 360 degrees of the Nigeria he advocated in that article.

The most mischievous part of Tunde Rahman’s article was his accusation of Northern Nigerian elites on heating the polity because of the movement of key CBN’s department from Abuja to Lagos, and some parastatals under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace. According to the (the writer will be quoted in lengthy for proper understanding of his mischievous and ulterior motives, as well as giving painting the Northern Nigerian elites as bad enemies of the PBAT’s regime) “Indeed, until the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, spoke on this issue last week, I had reckoned that the imperative of the planned relocation of some CBN departments and the headquarters of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria from Abuja to Lagos was evident enough. I had reasoned that the Northern politicians including Senator Ali Ndume from Borno State who had moved to bring down the roof over the development were merely playing politics. The Emir of Kano, a highly revered royal father, raised the ante last Monday while receiving the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who was in Kano to inaugurate the School of Law Building named after her by Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, and had stopped by to pay a courtesy call on the Emir. Emir Bayero, whose speech was translated from Hausa to English Language by a senior palace counsellor, had told the First Lady to convey his message to President Tinubu. He said among other things: “We are indeed suspicious on why Mr. President single-handedly relocated key departments of CBN, and outright relocation of FAAN to Lagos. “We are receiving a series of messages from my subjects, and most of them expressed concern over the relocation of CBN and FAAN to Lagos. President Tinubu should come out clean on this matter and talk to Nigerians in the language they would understand. Do more enlightenment on this matter. I, for one, cannot tell the actual intentions of the government. We should be made to actually understand why the relocation of the CBN and FAAN offices back to Lagos.” Tunde Rahman was the only one that missed the headlines of almost all Nigerian dailies of that Monday. From Lagos to Abuja, all the dailies and online news outlets their heading on that issue was similar. The common heading on the issue was, “Tell Tinubu Nigerians are Hungry” by PM News. Peoples Gazette’s headline was “Hunger Worsened under your husband’s watch.” Business day was “Emir of Kano alerts First Lady to worsening hunger…” Vanguard Newspaper was “Tell your husband Nigerians are suffering, Emir of Kano…” Even Punch Newspaper, one of the staunch defenders of PBAT, said “Tell Tinubu to tackle hunger, Kano emir urges the First Lady.” Thus, one wonders how the mentioning of hunger, insecurity that is deteriorating under the watch of PBAT slipped the eyes and ears of Tunde Rahman!

Mr. Tunde, for God’s sake, with all the Macroeconomic crisis that is enveloping Nigeria under PBAT and Olayemi Cardoso as CBN Governor, is moving “core department of CBN is his priority or stabilizing our economy? Sir, in this age of digitalization, this staff can carry out their duties from the comfort of their rooms without any hindrances. In reality, both PBAT and Cardoso have no time. Time is against them sir. Next year by this time, 2027 politicking will start gathering momentum. At which time both you, Cardoso, and your chief Principal are more concerned with your politics of reelection than either the Nigerian economy or Nigerian electorates all together.

One interesting self-refutation by Tunde Rahman was his saying “With the benefit of hindsight, one can say that Cardoso and his team should have understood the political dimensions of the decision better and undertake a more effective public enlightenment on it rather than treat it as a purely administrative matter.” Sir, this is an elementary argument and by saying this, you raised some fundamental questions about Cardoso’s educational background from “prestigious Harvad” as well as his professional career. Why? Because this issue you raised of grasping the “political dimensions of his decisions” is that of proper comprehension of Nigerian political economy, and by your charges, Cardoso needs more lessons on that. Which brought us to his professional career. How could someone that was MD/CEO of a bank could not understand that decisions of CBN Governor have political ramifications? This left your readers flabbergasted sir. Tunde went further saying “He also disclosed that the movement of the departments concerned to Lagos is also important because, according to him, the country is at the point where there is a need for more banking surveillance.” It seems Tunde Rahman still believes we are in the analog age! We are in the twenty first century – the age of globalization and technological innovations sir. Whatever surveillance of banks CBN wants to conduct, it can be executed remotely sir. That is, it can be from any village and hamlet provided internet and other IT infrastructure are available. Thus, what CBN should have been to help the nation in enhancing IT infrastructure, by collaborating with such agencies like NITDA, NCC, Ministry of Communication and digital economy, Ministry of Science and Technological Innovation, and relocating these Department to areas that are lacking in the IT infrastructure thereby pulling resources together with the mentioned agencies and provided the infrastructure. Not moving these departments to an area that is already developed in these infrastructures.

In an apparent antagonism of the Emir of Kano, Tunde Rahman argued that the Emir asked the Nigerian power behind the PBAT presidency, Pastor Oluremi Tinubu to ask the PBAT to reverse the decisions of Mr. Cardoso. According to him “One, President Tinubu is receiving attacks over the movement. The Emir of Kano says he must reverse it, urging the First Lady to deploy the feminine soft power to actualise this. “Honestly, this is one low ebb of Tunde Rahman’s professional callings. He neither produced the Emir’s call in Hausa or English. And if the Emir said that he is on track sir, what did they say in politics? There is a common saying “the buck stops at the table of the president.” He went further saying “Yet, to all intent and purposes, the President that is being asked to reverse the transfer may not have been apprised of the decision because he does not micromanage those, he gives responsibilities to where their unique expertise and experience are called to service.” Sir, if the President is not making such decisions with serious political-economy consequences in advance, then sorry for Nigeria! Sir, it is not about “micromanaging” his appointees, it is about managing the Nigerian political economy. Deferring the movement till when the Nigerian macroeconomic headed clockwise, would have been better for everyone involved sir. The current hunger, sickness, inflation and unemployment rising with no sight of their brake, poverty, and add to the escalating of insecurity, that is one of the reasons people are vomiting their anger nakedly.

In his closing remarks of the article, the presidential aide resorted to doing his proper job rather than defending Cardoso. Realistically, defending the president was the originating purpose of his article rather than the predicament Cardoso finds himself in as CBN Governor. According to Tunde Rahman “In any case, President Tinubu’s pan-Nigerian outlook and credentials are too well known. His ability to build political and personal networks and relationships across the length and breadth of the country were partly responsible for his victory in the keenly contested 2023 presidential election.” An election victory is one thing, and maintaining that victory is another. Apparently, your principal won the election, but he did not know how to maintain that victory for the benefits of Nigeria and Nigerians. Rather, he is saying thank you with all manners of cruelty he plunged the nation’s economy into.

Sir, it is not the “dilemma of Olayemi Cardoso, but is also the dilemma of PBAT and the rest of Lagos boys to move Nigeria forward economically, or at least take it back to the days of PMB! But it seems PBAT has no intention of listening to Nigerians till when 2027 politicking season began, that is when he will realize his new friends in BrentWood Institutions are not his real friends. One easily agreed with Senator Ali Ndume when he said “these Lagos boys think that Nigeria is Lagos, they forget that Lagos is in Nigeria’ maybe that’s why the Lagos ‘magic’ isn’t working in the rest of the country.” How things are going on in Nigeria today, a repeat of the 2015 general election result is on the way. PBAT will be the second president to be voted out of office in Nigeria. Though, you and other BAT boys will not agree with this assertion, but time will with Nigerian electorates. For the betterment of Nigeria and Nigerians economic well being, I do hope PBAT and his boys’ dilemma will be solved before the 2027 elections.

Mustapha Maikudi Abdullahi sent this piece from Texas, United State, via llccoimex@gmail.com