The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released the 2023 meeting schedule of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), with the first meeting coming up on January 23, 2023.
The CBN Act of 2007 (Amended) stipulates that the MPC shall consist of the governor of the bank who shall be the chairman, the four deputy governors of the bank, two members of the Board of Directors of the bank, three members appointed by the President, and two members appointed by the governor.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, has chaired the meeting since he assumed office in June 2014. He began his second term, due to end in 2024, after being nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari and confirmed by the Senate.
However, following the reported move by the Department of Security Services (DSS) to arrest Emefiele over charges of terrorism financing and economic crimes, which was stopped by the Federal High Court in Abuja, many Nigerians have been asking questions about Emefiele’s whereabouts and who will chair the next MPC meeting.
“Where is the central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele really?” Oby Ezekwesili, a former vice president of the World Bank, Africa Region, asked on Twitter recently. “Something very strange appears to be going on with the head of our monetary authority, CBN. Has anyone seen any information on Emefiele lately?”
Responding to the development, Taiwo Oyedele, head of tax and corporate advisory services at PwC, said: “It is possible for the CBN governor to chair the next MPC meeting remotely in the event that he is unable to attend the meeting physically.”
He said the CBN Act requires the governor to chair the meeting of the MPC without any specific provision for an alternative chair in his absence.
However, a similar provision in the CBN Act can be borrowed regarding meetings of the CBN Board, which indicates that in the absence of the governor, a deputy governor designated by him shall preside at such a meeting.
“Most likely Aisha Ahmad, deputy governor, financial system stability, will chair the MPC meeting,” said Uche Uwaleke, professor of Capital Market at the Nasarawa State University Keffi.
Ahmad provided perspectives on the CBN’s policies during the House of Representatives’ hearing on the implementation of the CBN cashless policy and the new withdrawal limits on December 22, 2022.
Emefiele had in December received presidential approval to proceed on vacation until January 9, 2023.
Many Nigerians have expressed concerns that he has not appeared in public, after the well-publicised trip with President Muhammadu Buhari to Washington DC, USA that ended on December 17.
Some online reports said the CBN governor quietly returned to the country after some weeks of absence and was planning to leave the country again, very soon, for fear of being arrested.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Abuja, Justice John Tsoho, had rejected the suit filed by the DSS to arrest the CBN governor over terrorism charges in his ruling on suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/2255/2022 between State Security Service (applicant) and Godwin Emefiele (respondent).