By Geoff Iyatse (Lagos), Collins Olayinka and Terhemba Daka (Abuja)
In what could be the beginning of the end of Godwin Emefiele’s nine years of chaotic reign at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, nominated Dr Olayemi Michael Cardoso as a possible replacement for the embattled chief regulator.
The nomination is for a term of five years at the first instance, pending his confirmation by the Senate, a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said.
The nomination is in conformity with Section 8 (1) of the CBN Act (2007), which vests in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the authority to appoint the governor.
Four deputy governors were also nominated resting any speculation on the future of the current deputy governors among which one, Folashodun Shonubi, has been in charge of the monetary authority in an acting capacity since June.
Emefiele, two deputy governors – Dr Kingsley Obiora and Aisha Ahmad – have been detailed by the Department of State Security (DSS) in connection with their roles at the helm of the affairs of the bank for a varied number of years.
Emefiele was the second longest-serving CBN boss but his tenure was marked with chaotic policies on foreign exchange (FX) management, development financing and, most recently, naira redesign, which was christened by his critics as currency seizure.
The naira redesign, particularly, has slowed down economic growth, whipping trillions of naira from the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of the year according to economists.
The nomination, according to sources, was to make way for the uninterrupted prosecution of Emefiele and some of his indicted colleagues in alleged financial frauds of the past nine years.
Already, the suspended governor has been joined by two deputies and a retired director, who was reportedly picked at a retirement party organised for him by his colleagues.
The Guardian understands that some of the top officials have been shuttling between offices and detention facilities, a situation said to have raised concern in the Presidency.
Hence, a speedy change of guard was said to have been recommended by the team of special investigators headed by the former Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Jim Obazee, alongside other top government officials.
In the past weeks, the President was said to have been disturbed by the implications of entrusting the management of CBN with individuals who have been “intermittently invited for interrogation”.
“The implication is that the market confidence continued to nosedive. Besides, Emefiele does not even deny some of the criminal allegations. The provision of the CBN that gives the governor some cover does not extend to a situation where criminal charges are involved,” a source knowledgeable about events leading to the nomination of Cardoso told The Guardian.
Earlier this week, The Guardian reported that some top officials of CBN and bankers are being interrogated for frauds totaling over N7 trillion being linked to Emefiele.
The report noted that the financial system was being heated up by the investigation even as tension built at CBN over the possible extension of an invitation to more directors who had worked with the suspended apex bank boss.
President Bola Tinubu
The President also approved the nomination of four new deputy governors, for a term of five years at the first instance, pending their confirmation by the Senate, the statement issued by the media aide said.
The new deputy governors are Mrs Emem Nnana Usoro, Mr Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Mr Philip Ikeazor and Dr Bala Bello.
The statement added: “In line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda, 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 in the restructuring of the Nigerian economy toward sustainable growth and prosperity for all.”
Cardoso is a former chairman of Citibank Nigeria and a leader in the financial and development sectors with over 30 years of experience in private, public and not-for-profit organisations.
With diverse corporate governance experience, Cardoso has also sat on the boards of Nigerian subsidiaries of Texaco and Chevron and chaired the board of EFInA, a financial sector development organisation supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. He served in government as the first Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget for Lagos State, where he championed the financial reform process that led to the state’s development of independent tax revenues.
In his capacity as a consultant and policy expert, he has advised and collaborated with major international development organisations including the World Bank, Ford Foundation, the UN-Habitat, World Health Organization and the Swedish Development Foundation.
Cardoso started his banking career with Citibank where he eventually rose to the position of Vice President leaving to co-found Citizens International Bank where he was an Executive Director for eight years.
He is the recipient of several awards including an honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration from Aston University, his alma mater, and the Global Distinguished Alumni award from Citibank.
A citizen of Lagos State, Cardoso attended Corona School Ikoyi and St. Gregory’s College, Lagos, for his primary and secondary education respectively. His undergraduate studies earned him a Bachelor’s Degree in Managerial and Administrative Studies from Aston University, the United Kingdom, in 1980.
He also obtained a Master in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School where he was a Mason Fellow.
Meanwhile, a retired banker, Ande Mohammed, said Cardoso has his well cut with many infractions committed by the CBN management team.
“All we can do now is to pray for the new man. He has his job well cut out. He must ensure we do not go back to unbridled ways and means. There are so many things we expect from him and his team,” he said.
Cardoso is reputed for standing his ground even when he is faced with tough political adversaries and opinion leaders within the polity.
Tinubu may have picked the nominee on competence over politics as he is known to be tough, principled and professional.
As a commissioner, Cardoso was never a yeoman. He resisted Tinubu when he worked with him as a commissioner and handled his job professionally, those who are close to him said.
Bankers would also need to sit up as the nominee could resist political pressure and begin the long-awaited process of reforming the “rotten” financial system, according to Tinubu during a diaspora engagement in France.
The Guardian Newspaper Nigeria Ltd