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Atiku says he’d change CBN governor if elected

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Atiku at PDP Plateau Rally. Photo/Twitter/ Atiku


Nigeria’s main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said he would appoint a new central bank governor and float the naira if he wins next month’s elections.

Godwin Emefiele is not doing a good job, Abubakar said, adding that he’d make the change when the governor’s first term ends in June.

“I don’t think he’s pursued the right policies,” Abubakar, 72, said Wednesday in an interview in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos. “We have to have the right people in there.”

Under Emefiele, who was appointed in 2014, Nigeria has tightened capital controls and closely controlled the naira’s value. The governor has consistently said this is the best way to curb inflation and revive manufacturing by discouraging imports. The country now has a system of multiple exchange rates, which several foreign investors have criticized.

Isaac Okorafor, a spokesman for the central bank in Abuja, the capital, declined to comment on what Abubakar said.

A former vice president and wealthy businessman, Abubakar has touted his pro-market approach that includes selling stakes in the state-owned oil company as a way to drum up investment. He accused President Muhammadu Buhari, a 76-year-old ex-military ruler, of planning to rig the Feb. 16 vote.

Rigging Fears
“Fears of rigging are credible,” said Abubakar. “I have never seen, since 1999, a government so repressive and anti-democratic.”

He also accused the president of incompetence when it comes to running the economy of Africa’s biggest oil producer.

“The president doesn’t even know what’s going on around him,” Abubakar said. “He’s aloof. You can see that he’s clueless in the way the country’s been governed since he came to office.”

Abubakar is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, which was in power for 16 years after Nigeria ended military rule in 1999. It lost the last vote in 2015 as Buhari of the All Progressives Congress became the first opposition candidate to win office in a democratic vote since independence from Britain in 1960.

The campaign has been a tense affair fought on the themes of Buhari’s failure to revive an anemic economy after oil prices crashed in 2014 and accusations by the president’s camp that Abubakar acquired his vast wealth corruptly.

“I’m not a rent-seeking politician,” Abubakar said. “That’s absolutely incorrect. Anyone who has evidence of corruption against me, let him come out.”

Northern Muslims
Abubakar is seeking to win votes in Buhari’s northern base, while claiming parts of the south and center where the president is less popular. Both men are northern Muslims in a nation roughly divided between Christianity and Islam.

Whoever wins must work to provide jobs for the more than 50 percent of the population under the age of 30. The West African nation’s education and health systems have been gutted by corruption, a lack of investment that leaves children without books and the flight of qualified doctors abroad.


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