President-elect Bola Tinubu and his close aides have turned their focus on who will be the next governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as they comb for top-level appointees into the next government, which will be sworn in on May 29, BusinessDay has learnt.
For them, the search for a safe pair of hands to become the next governor of the central bank of Africa’s largest economy is both crucial and urgent as they believe any real push to reverse Nigeria’s economic crises must be anchored on having a strong, tested and widely acceptable man or woman to seat atop the country’s apex bank as governor.
BusinessDay learnt authoritatively that the candidates being considered include Fola Adeola, founding CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank and father of modern-day pension industry; Bode Agusto, founder of Nigeria’s first credit rating company and a former director of Budget Office of the Federation who holds a degree in accounting from Lagos and a certificate in strategy and innovation from MIT; Oluyemi Cardoso, a former chairman of Citi Bank and ex-Lagos commissioner for economic development under Tinubu’s administration and who holds degrees from the University of Aston and Harvard; and Olawale Edun, a former commissioner for finance under Tinubu and who holds both a first and second degree in economics from London and Sussex.
There are also others who have been mentioned. They include the possible return of former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who is studying for a doctorate degree at Oxford University. Doyin Salami, the respected economist and current chief economic adviser to the president, is also in the frame; the former teacher at the Lagos Business School has been long associated with the job.
Adeola is being considered for the respect that he commands across Nigeria for roles played in GTBank as well as for midwifing the highly successful pension industry. He is also an independent mind.
Cardoso, a quiet operator who has been a trusted and long-time ally of the President-elect, who while speaking at the Nigerian Economic Summit, called his former commissioner “headmaster.” He is very well regarded in business circles in Nigeria and is a member of the advisory board of the Lagos Business School.
Edun worked at Chase and while on secondment in New York, he had stints at both Lehman Brothers and at Chase Manhattan Capital Markets Corporation. He is another long-time ally of Tinubu, who recently appointed him to the transition committee. Edun chairs the board of The Nation, the newspaper owned by the president-elect, and both have had a long association.
Agusto is drawn to the president-elect and his aides by his brilliance and personal accomplishments by building a credit rating and consultancy business that now operates across Africa.
Lamido is a “straight shooter” and one-time emir of Kano who has done the job before. Tinubu’s aides believe their search for the next governor of the CBN should extend far and wide.
Salami holds a doctorate degree in economics from Queen Mary College University of London and his research interests include issues in corporate long-term financial management, macroeconomic policy, corporate competitiveness and risk management, and characteristics of Small and Medium Enterprises. He was managing partner of Edward Kingston Associates, a firm of economics consultants, where he led a team to build a macroeconomic model of the Nigerian economy. His other consulting activities include assignments for Department for International Development, World Bank, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, United States Agency for International Development and serving as Peer Reviewer for the International Finance Corporation’s review of its Nigeria strategy.
The current occupant of the position, Godwin Emefiele, took the job on June 4, 2014 under President Goodluck Jonathan, and it is unclear whether he will remain in the position until his second and final term expires next year or if an exit will be found for him at the time President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure lapses at the end of next month.
But he has been in the eye of the storm, especially since the beginning of the controversial attempt to redesign the local currency and perhaps also to deny some politicians access to their huge pile of cash during the last election as well as the serious damage this inflicted on the economy. This is leading many to suggest that his days are numbered.
At a private event in Lagos last week at which many senior private equity players were in attendance, it became obvious that global investors holding the investment dollars that Nigeria badly needs are unlikely to move money to Nigeria until the CBN question was resolved.
According to one senior aide of the president-elect, “it is well accepted now that until we resolve the issue of the future direction of the central bank, Nigeria’s economy will continue to go in and out of the intensive care unit. It is that important and urgent. We see it in the fragility of the economy and the shrinkage of the informal economy. We see it in the recent FDI and capital importation numbers, and we see it in the sea of young Nigerians queuing up to leave the country.”