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Before Mr. President Appoints A Northern CBN Governor

By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni
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Do not be deceived, this is not an economic juxtaposition of the attributes required of a Central Bank Governor in Nigeria, neither is it an x-ray of our dwindling economy, two digit interest rate, spiraling inflation or a debate on why the naira has refused to appreciate despite its devaluation.

My understanding of economics is quite blur, a major reason I find it difficult to understand why after the Federal Government said it eliminated 23, 846 ghost workers from its payroll, thus saving about N2.293 billion, after telling Nigerians over N3 trillion has been mopped up as a result of Treasury Single Account not to list the huge amounts purported to have been recovered from the arms deal and thieving politicians some who are perpetually on the run, we are still said to be going into recession?

Citizens, unlike those in the Executive Arm of government cannot still fathom why hunger is pervading the land and doom seems looming at every turn.

The socio-economic realities that have bedeviled Nigeria since the quest for change out-ran the desire for transformation have made almost everybody an expert on the economy, the people are getting disillusioned by the day and the change mantra is not changing much in regards to how citizens live.

The current administration have been performing below the electorate's’ expectations, President Muhammadu Buhari is leaving too many things to chances and body language while disconnecting himself from his primary constituents - Nigerians. The lacklustre path the implementation of the belated 2016 Appropriation Act has taken is another in case point which further cast aspersions on the preparedness of the All Progress Congress to govern the country.

All efforts to get Mr. President to remember his campaign promises or that of his Political Party has yielded little results. The President needs to be punctilious, every detail in this conglomeration called Nigeria matters, the macroeconomic cannot be jettison for the microeconomic vis-a-vis.

Despite the bailout to states, there is still a wide range of indebtedness causing strain on the reputation of the Federal Government. If Mr. President or his handlers take time to be sincere to themselves, they will realize there is an unanimous decision about town - that the president is failing the nation and that his nepotism particularly in the area of appointments is become worrisome.

Concerned pundits have put appointment figures as 79% Northerners as against 49% Southerners. A further division into geopolitical sharing negates the principles of federal character as enshrined in Nigeria’s law books, further putting to question the genuineness of Mr. President to unite the country especially at this critical period when talks of disintegration is loud in some quaters.

Giving the foregoing, one should deliberately caution the current administration in making future appointments. Even though all sorts of animadversions have been made against this government, I still feel in the light of the economic conundrum we have surprisingly found ourselves, we must tell Mr. President to be weary in his appointment of the next CBN Governor and not allow the alleged northern nepotism becloud his judgement. No doubt, the fluctuating monetary and economic policy embarked upon so far have not heeded much result even the advocates of devaluation of the naira have unceremoniously gone undercover.

“The major regulatory objectives of the CBN as stated in the CBN Act are to: maintain the external reserves of the country, promote monetary stability and a sound financial environment, and to act as a banker of last resort and financial adviser to the federal government,“ objectives one can say the CBN is finding difficult to judiciously perform.

It is no gainsaying the current CBN is overwhelmed by the situation and needs to be eased out for the injection of fresh ideas to address our economic woes.

Appointments of CBN governors since the return to democratic rule have been significant to the rejuvenation of Nigeria’s monetary market. The background of persons chosen to occupy the exalted seat often contribute significantly to the direction of the apex banking body as it relates to the needs of the nation at that point in time. Starting with Charles Chukwuma Soludo in 2004 who was the former Chief Executive of National Planning Commission and spearheaded the 25 billion recapitalization of banks at a time we had massive proliferation of paperweight “family" banks that cannot finance the smallest of enterprise. The restructuring of the banking industry at that time helped in attracting funds from local and foreign investors which increased banks’ ability to lend to customers, thus creating the right atmosphere to boost the private sector driven economic agenda championed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Being a risk manager, the appointment of Sanusi Lamido Aminu Sanusi in 2009 helped prevent the imminent collapse of about ten leading banks, saved depositors money and put regulatory precautions in place. It was Sanusi who first gave a hint into the financial imbalance of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), an outburst that led to his suspension and subsequent sack by former President Goodluck Jonathan. Sanusi’s ouster led to the appointment of the current CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, a former Chief Executive Officer with Zenith Bank, who has held several strategic positions in his 18 years in the banking industry, however, his appointment also coincided with the buildup to the 2015 general elections, a time the then ruling People’s Democratic Party needed to open the Federal Vault to wage an all-out war against All Progressives Congress. What became of that “padi-padi” CBN-Presidency banking relationship is all out and not the major thrust of this piece.

Considering the call from some quarters that power should change hands at the apex banking body, it is a matter of time before Mr. President succumbs particularly when it gives him an opportunity to appoint an new helmsman with the financial discipline to drive his change mantra - here lies the crux of this piece because of President Buhari's previous lopsided appointments.

When I joined many to catch the “Buhari, Sai Baba” bug after campaigning vigorously for generational shift in leadership structure of Nigeria (in 2011, I was on Nuru Ribadu’s Team), one restraining factor I had was that if General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) became the President, he will pick his old folks but again I thought we could rely on the wisdom of the old to restructure our fractured structure. Unfolding events since that euphoria victory of April 28, 2015, has shown that I was not wrong on whom PMB will involve in his government but I was wrong on their sense of judgment on the urgency we need to put things straight. Nigeria expects something different, something inspiring, and something that represents a new beginning. Nigerians are desirous of a President that will be comfortable to visit every state, relate with every tribe and feel the pulse of every region. Not a President that see good only up North or dwells on a 95% to 5% voting pattern.

Most of the young, creative and energetic personnel that help sold PMB’s candidacy to Nigerians have been tactically showed the way out of the government (I guess it is only that Photographer, Bayo Omoboriowo who is left...maybe the President couldnt get an old friend who can handle modern photography gadgets).

A 21st century president needs to be contemporary; he should have the mental acuity to blend across geopolitical and demographic strata. He should be able to read minds and see news in its real content, above all he should have the temerity to swallow his pride and listen to the voice of the street no matter how archaic it might sound.

I am still with Mr. President but my reservoir of patience is on the low. One can only hope that moving forward; Mr. President will give his government a nationalistic outlook, embrace those divided across the block, negotiate and develop economic policies to put smiles on the people’s face. And when the time comes to appoint the CBN Governor, he will not pick somebody from the North!

Below are five possible candidates Mr. President may like to consider;

Tony Elumelu
Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is an economist, who was ranked 31st richest person in Africa by Forbes Magazine in 2015. He is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. Known for his daring act of turning around near comatose enterprises, he would be a very good hand to be injected into the economic team of President Buhari.

Uzoma Dozie
Dozie is the current Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank. 47-year old Dozie took over from Dr. Alex Otti in 2014 and has been extraordinary in managing the fortune of the new generation bank. With banking career of over two decades cutting across Credit and Marketing, Planning and Financial Control and Business Process Re-engineering, Mr. President will find his clout and youthfulness worthy.

Fola Adeola
Tajudeen Afolabi Adeola was the Pioneer Managing Director and Chief Executive of Guaranty Trust Bank, the banking role he manage diligently for 12 years. He was a Vice Presidential candidate alongside Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (Presidential candidate) and once served as Chairman of the National Pension Commission. He is the founder and chairman of the FATE Foundation.

Olusola David-Borha
Sola is the Chief Executive Officer of StanbicIBTC Bank. She holds a (Econs) and MBA. With more than a decade of banking experience and an enviable background in Corporate Finance, Project and Structure Financing, she will serve Mr. President well in his quest to improve infrastructure funding in the country.

Segun Agbaje
Mr. Agbaje is the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, with over 19 years investment and international banking experience. Prior to joining Guaranty Trust Bank plc, he worked with Ernst & Young, San Francisco, USA. He is young and brilliant with the international background to drive investment

Pascal Dozie
Mr. Pascal G. Dozie is the Co-Founder, Partner, and Non-Executive Partner at African Capital Alliance. He is the Founder of Kunoch Limited. He was the Founder of Diamond Bank PLC. Mr. Dozie served as the Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank Plc and also as Chairman of MTN Nigeria.

NB: this last name is necessary should Mr. President finds the younger Bankers to be hyperactive and need an old war horse in his generation.

Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni lives in Abuja and write via [email protected]

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