- Yusuf Oketola
President Bola Tinubu nominated the former head of Citibank in Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, to serve as the country’s new central bank governor days before its next interest rate meeting and set tongues wagging as to the legality of the appointment as there cannot be two governors of the apex bank at the same time.
However, government sources told Reuters that Godwin Emefiele, suspended as central bank chief by Tinubu in June and later detained by state police and charged with procurement fraud, resigned last month, effectively clearing the way for Cardoso to replace him.
Tinubu sent Cardoso’s nomination to the Senate for confirmation alongside four new deputy governors and it is unclear if the former deputy governors had themselves also resigned.
The central bank did not respond to Reuters’ request to comment on whether Emefiele and his deputy governors had resigned together. Ngelale declined to comment when asked about Emefiele’s resignation.
“The President expects the above-listed nominees to successfully implement critical reforms at the Central Bank of Nigeria, which will enhance the confidence of Nigerians and international partners,” Ngelale said in a statement.
Contrary to analysts ‘ expectations, the central bank raised rates by a smaller-than-expected 25 basis points in July under acting Governor Folashondun Shonubi, one of Emefiele’s deputies.
The bank is due to set rates again on Sept. 26, and some analysts expect a more hawkish stance.
During his inauguration in May, Tinubu promised a “thorough house cleaning” of monetary policy and said that the central bank should work towards lower interest rates after criticising Emefiele’s currency handling.
The central bank pursued unorthodox policies under Emefiele, who kept the currency artificially strong, a policy backed by former President Muhammadu Buhari, which supported government borrowings on the international markets.
Nigeria’s new government wants to encourage investments rather than rely on borrowing to create jobs as it tries to revive an economy struggling with record debt, a weak currency, double-digit inflation and fragile power supplies.
Cardoso was part of the team working on an economic blueprint for the new government. He was a former commissioner for financial planning and budget in Lagos state when Tinubu was governor between 1999-2007.