• Russian president said to reject Nabiullina’s bid to resign
• Respected central banker faces legacy at risk as sanctions hit
Russia’s highly regarded central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina sought to resign after Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine, only to be told by the president to stay, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions.
Nominated for a new five-year term last week, Nabiullina’s current views couldn’t be learned. She is left to manage the fallout from a war that’s quickly undone much of what’s she’s accomplished in the nine years since she took office. The people said departure now would be seen as a betrayal by the president, with whom she has worked closely for nearly two decades.
Nabiullina, 58, hasn’t commented publicly on her reappointment and didn’t respond to a query for this article. The central bank’s press service didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article. After it was published, the press service told Tass that it “doesn’t correspond to reality,” providing no further details. A Kremlin spokesman didn’t reply to a request for comment. Only one senior official has quit over the war: longtime economic reformer Anatoly Chubais stepped down as Putin’s climate envoy this week and left the country, according to people familiar with the situation.
Nabiullina, favored by investors and hailed by publications including Euromoney and The Banker as one of the world’s best monetary policymakers, now faces a wartime economy isolated by international sanctions and starved for investment as foreign companies leave.
With the ruble plunging as the U.S. and its allies imposed sweeping sanctions — including on the central bank itself — in the wake of the Feb. 24 invasion, she more than doubled the key interest rate and imposed capital controls to stanch the outflow of cash.
The central bank said it gave up interventions to defend the ruble after international restrictions froze more than half of its $643 billion in reserves.
“So long as there’s an escalation, the central bank can only adapt to shocks,” said Oleg Vyugin, a former top Bank of Russia official who’s known Nabiullina for over 20 years.
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Some central bank officials describe a state of hopelessness in the weeks since the invasion, feeling trapped in an institution that they fear will have little use for their market-oriented skills and experience as Russia is cut off from the world. At one point, the pace of departures was intense enough that the IT department was short of hands to terminate accounts. Arrows plastered along passageways steered employees through the final bureaucracy on their way out.
Other departments hunkered down under a heavier work load than usual and even saw a barrage of resumes arrive from banks targeted by sanctions.
Before the invasion, officials modeled scenarios that included a possible cut-off from the SWIFT financial messaging service but considered the possibility of sanctions on the central bank’s reserves too extreme to be anything but hypothetical, people familiar with the situation said.
Putin said earlier this month he’s confident Russia will overcome the current economic difficulties and emerge more independent. Comparing the current wave of restrictions to those imposed on the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War, he said, “the Soviet Union lived under sanctions, developed and attained colossal successes.”
In a brief statement last Friday after deciding to keep rates near a two-decade high of 20%, Nabiullina put off achieving her 4% inflation target until 2024 and warned the economy is headed for contraction and upheaval with no clear end in sight. In a break with recent tradition, she didn’t take questions after the rate meeting.
Economists predict a double-digit drop in output this year, while the ruble’s collapse and shortages of goods may touch off inflation of as much as 25%, a level not seen in Russia since the government’s 1998 debt default.
The ruble’s value has plunged over Nabiullina’s years as central banker
In a short video to the central bank’s staff on March 2, Nabiullina hinted at the upheaval inside, pleading to avoid “political debates” that “only burn our energy, which we need to do our job.” Describing an economic situation she called “extreme,” the governor said “all of us would have wanted for this not to happen.”
Until now, the crisis that followed Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was the biggest test of Nabiullina’s free-market mettle.
She fought against capital controls — advice that was then heeded by Putin — and set the ruble free, shifting to inflation targeting earlier than planned.
Under her stewardship, the central bank amassed one of the world’s biggest stockpiles of foreign currency and gold, cracked down on lenders deemed mismanaged or under-capitalized, and brought inflation to the lowest in Russia’s post-Soviet history.
“When Nabiullina came in, no one thought she’d be able to stabilize inflation,” recalls Natalia Orlova, economist at Alfa-Bank. “She brought the central bank up to absolutely international standards.”
European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, a fellow opera-lover then in charge of the International Monetary Fund, in 2018 likened her qualities to those of a great conductor.
Foreign investors poured billions into Russian debt. Putin trusted her, listened to her opinion and defended her tight-money policies in front of other government officials. But much of her legacy came undone in a matter of hours after the sanctions laid siege to Russia’s economy.
The path forward is less obvious than in crises past. An emergency rate hike and restrictions on foreign-exchange transactions have for now bottled up problems in the banking industry, with Russian markets seeing only a piecemeal reopening. The threat of default is stalking the government and companies.
“There’s no hope for the central bank to return to its old policies,” said Sergei Guriev, professor of economics at Sciences Po Paris.
Guriev, who fled to Paris in 2013 and served as chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has known Nabiullina for about 15 years.
“She didn’t sign up to work in wartime,” he said. “She’s not the kind of person who can work with financial markets shut off and catastrophic sanctions.”
Police Rescue App Gets Over 10,000 Fake Alerts In Four Days
The Nigeria Police ‘Rescue Me App’ has received over 10,000 fake emergency alerts in four days.
This is according to the Acting Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a tweet via his Twitter handle on Wednesday.
The Rescue Me App was launched by the police to help citizens in distress to report crimes in their neighbourhoods, with direct access to police helplines.
In his tweet, Adejobi noted that the fake emergency alerts by some citizens prank testing the service had resulted in heavy traffic on the system.
He urged Nigerians to only use the service when in genuine need for the police to be able to help those who are in an emergency.
The FPRO also reaffirmed the app’s usefulness while calling for citizens’ cooperation with the police.
“On our NPF Rescue Me App, we want to urge Nigerians to please stop fake alerts. These are causing more harm to the system and jeopardising it. In the last four days, we have received more than 10,122 fake alerts.
“And that’s why we have heavy traffic on the system, thereby affecting the genuine callers. We have more than 5000 pending or awaiting OTP to proceed on the app; it’s due to this unnecessary heavy traffic on the system.
“We are sure the app is good, efficient and helpful; that’s why we initiated it to improve our security network. Pls, cooperate with us on this,” Adejobi stated.
Apart from crime reportage, the Rescue Me App also has other functions such as requesting an ambulance, emergency contact feature, reporting a police officer, and navigation.
2023: Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi Shares Her 5-point Agenda For Nigeria
The media professional said she intends to merge all specific projects to create a product that can be easily evaluated in 10 years.
She said, “The way we intend to go about it is to create a vision for what we want the country to look like. There are specific projects, but rather than having them as projects we need to combine them to create products, whereby in 10 years, we want to have this amount of industrialization in this area.
“So we are creating jobs, employment, health services, everywhere you have an industrial path, and powering them with the energy sector. By this, we are also creating an enabling environment for investors, and a safe place for skill acquisition and transfer of knowledge.”
An Okunnu-Lamidi-led government will advocate for a 50% inclusion rare for women in politics and governance.
In her words, “as a woman, I cannot but champion these policies for us to have a 50% women inclusion rate.
She explained that this is what Nigeria needs if leaders must make good decisions. She also noted that women determine the wealth of the nation.
“It is definitely what we need if we are going to make good decisions. Women’s inclusion ensures that policies are able to carry along as many women as possible. There’s a woman in every household. If you do not enable these women, the poorer the women the poorer the nation,” she said.
Education and Innovation
The 38-year-old, who hails from Lagos Island, noted that Nigeria is yet to meet world standards, and if elected, her government would bridge the knowledge and application gap between the nation and the rest of the world through technology.
“Our children here can learn the same things that their counterparts are learning across the world. This also helps us in the application of knowledge. What we do in Nigeria is to only teach, we do not actually teach to apply knowledge, or how to think in different scenarios and situations.
“We have put these two hand-in-hand (education and innovation) because where we are at the moment is so far behind that we have to use technology to meet the standards of the world.”
Governance and Welfare
Mrs Okunnu-Lamidi said that the Nigerian government has missed its essence of governance by competing with local businesses.
“We think governance is business, that is why governments are competing with businesses, that is wrong government.
She further said her government, if elected, will ensure that the government agencies and parastatals will focus on their functions in order to elevate people living “beneath the dignity average of human existence.”
Law and Security
“Without law, there is no order”, Okunnu-Lamidi said. She explained that the state of security in the country can be controlled by law and justice.
“So we put law and security hand-in-hand so that the justice system can work very closely with the security system and we can solve our security issues through legal means.”
The presidential aspirant, who is the daughter of former Federal Commissioner of Works and Housing, Lateef Femi Okunnu (SAN), officially declared her intention to run for the Office of the President of Nigeria in 2023 in January 2022
The founder and chief executive officer of Slice Media Solutions disclosed that she is motivated to vie for the presidency because of her desire to restore hope and make Nigeria work for all Nigerians.
Buhari Unites APC Governors Ahead Of National Convention
In a fence-mending meeting held on Wednesday in Aso Villa, President Muhammadu Buhari has managed to unite governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the party’s national convention scheduled for Saturday.
In attendance at the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and 16 governors from Kebbi, Kwara, Kogi, Yobe, Ogun, Kaduna, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Borno, Niger, Jigawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Nasarawa, and Imo states.
There’s been discordant tunes among the governors over the leadership of the party led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.
Some of the governors, who were in the majority, had earlier concluded plans to revolt against President Buhari at the convention by working against his anointed candidates.
Led by Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, the aggrieved governors had resolved to sponsor candidates against the preferred choice of President Buhari for available positions into the National Working Committee (NWC) at the convention.
They also resolved not to give any cooperation to the Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC). This has led to paucity of funds for the party, a situation that has threatened the national convention.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the meeting, chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) and governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, said the governors are back on the same page and they are working towards the process to produce consensus candidates ahead of the convention.
The governors pledged to align with any candidate of Buhari’s choice, especially for the chairmanship position which will be keenly contested this weekend.
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting on Wednesday, a chieftain of the party who spoke on condition of anonymity, commended the president for quickly putting the meeting together.
He said it would have been disastrous for the party if the governors went to the convention divided.
“I think we should commend the president for quickly calling the meeting where the differences were ironed out. Imagine if the governors had gone to the convention with bickering and animosity. That would have signaled the end of our party. “The truth is that President Buhari is a major part of APC’s problem”.
When the governors presented the facts to him, he was the one that gave Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello the instruction to take over as acting national chairman. When the other group backing Buni later had access to him, he then asked Buni to return to his position.
“If you noticed the letter he wrote to Governor Atiku Bagudu, chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum on why Buni should return to his position, he copied Governor Sani Bello as acting national chairman.
“If not that the president endorsed Sani Bello’s take over, will he recognise him as acting chairman?” When asked if the president has anything to lose since he is not contesting again, our source said, “He (Buhari) has a lot to lose because the governors will not allow him install a successor.
“It is a humiliation for every outgoing executive, either governor or president if you are not allowed to choose your successor. There is a gang up against the president and the governors would have carried out the threat because they have the capacity to do that if they are united”.