By Obinna Chima

  • Emefiele flew Arik to mother’s burial

In a clear departure from what obtained in the past, officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) no longer use private or chartered jets in their official trips, the apex bank has said. Making the disclosure at the weekend, the bank’s Ag. Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele put a stop to the practice last year in response to the economic downturn and the cost-cutting stance of government. The disclosure is coming on the heels of a newspaper reports alleging that the CBN governor and the bank’s top officials chartered private jets to his mother’s burial in Delta State penultimate Saturday.

But contrary to the newspaper report that he took a chartered flight to his mother’s burial, THISDAY checks revealed that the CBN governor flew the Arik 8am flight from Lagos to Benin on April 1. When contacted, Arik officials confirmed that Emefiele was on the 8am flight but refused to give full manifest to THISDAY. Okorafor in a statement yesterday said since the CBN governor announced the ban, “neither Mr. Emefiele nor any of the deputy governors has used the services of private chartered flights and the CBN has not paid a kobo for private jet services.”

He said “All accounts still point to the fact that the Emefiele’s mother’s burial was a model in cost-cutting and an uncommon demonstration of his modest, ‘made in Nigeria’ philosophy.” He recalled that for several years in the past, the bank had used private and official chartered flights in making urgent travels to meet needs in remote, not-easily- accessible locations or in cases where timing might be critical to matters of urgent national importance. The practice, he noted, was in place long before the assumption of office of Emefiele, and that it is on record that the past two CBN governors actively used chartered private jet services to meet urgent national assignments. Okorafor said: “Indeed, in recognition of this critical need in its smooth operations, the CBN had in the 1990s acquired a dedicated jet for this purpose and for urgent currency movement. This was however taken over by the military administration when there was a more urgent need for it at the State House. “Thereafter, the CBN occasionally used the chartered services of private operators and those of the Presidential Fleet when available, both of which were paid for.” The statement added, “Emefiele and indeed other principal officers of the CBN have religiously maintained the modest disposition of using regular flights, including doing several trips by road to and from different parts of the country.”