If the Senate assents to the President’s request, Godwin Emefiele incumbent MD/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc will become the new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He will replace Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who was suspended that same morning.
Presidential aide, Reuben Abati announced the suspension on Thursday morning in a 6 paragraph statement which opened with: “Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline;
Being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate;” and ended with “The Federal Government of Nigeria reassures all stakeholders in Nigeria’s financial and monetary system that this decision has been taken in absolute good faith, in the overall interest of the Nigerian economy and in accordance with our laws and due process.”
Early on Thursday February 20, 2014, the president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan transmitted a letter to the Senate President. In the letter which was read on the Senate floor the same day, the President prayed the Senate to approve Godwin Emefiele as CBN Governor with alacrity. Another nomination was also made, that of Mr. Adelabu Adebayo, an Executive Director at First Bank Plc. He has been nominated as Deputy Governor of the apex bank. He will succeed Mr. Tunde Lemo, whose tenure will also expire later in the year.
Emefiele’s nomination took the industry and nation by surprise because his name never featured amongst the names put forward to replace Sanusi whose tenure was supposed to expire in June this year.
The high profile names put forward were Segun Aganga, Aig Imokhuede, Bisi Onasanya and a few other names as well as Deputy Governors at the CBN.
If Emefiele’s name never featured before now, then how did he come up as the favourite? Well, look to his former boss and founder of Zenith Bank. Many analysts believe that Emefiele’s emergence is a power move by Jim Ovia who many believe still has his eyes on the Managing Director position at Zenith Bank.
One other issue that has come up following Emefiele’s announcement as CBN governor designate is the timing. When did the President decide on his choice? Sanusi had been away on a foreign trip to attend a meeting of CBN governors. He was removed in his absence and on his return flew to Lagos instead of Abuja where, according to Premium Times, he was accosted by SSS operatives who seized his passport.
Well, last week Sunday, the usually PR averse Emefiele was featured extensively in a Sunday Thisday feature. It was a 3 page spread in which they chronicled his academic qualifications, banking and finance bona fides, records of achievement at the helm as Zenith MD, harvest of laurels and awards as well excellent ratings and financial results.
Was that a PR move to make him known to Nigerians before this announcement? Did he already know that he would be made CBN Governor? The feature was curious because Zenith Bank has not announced any result lately.
And then, why on earth did the president suspend a CBN governor who despite his loquaciousness has acted as if he was above the law for so long now, just four months before his due date.
Whatever the answers and reasons may be what is sure is that Emefiele, if approved by the senate, would be coming into the CBN on a wave of controversies and unanswered questions even if eminently qualified having taught and practiced banking and finance for almost 30 years.
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