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By Jamilu Maitambari
Baring any dramatic, the current governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Kano born Prince, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi should be on his way out of office as his five-year tenure expires in June. He is expected to proceed on terminal leave by March. The governor has since indicated that he will not be seeking a second term. By this, he has laid the door wide open for a replacement. Unless compelled by federal might, which is highly unlikely to reconsider his position, it is safe to assume that the government is shopping for a successor.
Sanusi is a maverick of sorts. He is famous for expressing his mind. It came as a little bit of surprise when he made public his disinterest in seeking a second term. In a country where sit-tight is a syndrome that most citizens would wish away, his seeming disinterest in a legitimate second term came as a shock to most people.
Shock and even controversy defined his five-year tenure. From day one, he made it clear that it was not going to be business as usual. In one fell swoop for instance, he fired five top managements of banks for unwholesome banking practices. That singular act served notice that the banking sector was in for strict reforms. He similarly introduced the cashless policy, limit daily withdrawal for corporate and personnel accounts among many other reforms.
Expectedly, the reforms have elicited mixed reactions. There has been a harvest of commendations and condemnations. Most assessment of the out-going governor’s tenure is informed by his controversial public disposition. But as a banker, his credentials recommended him for the job. He has earned international laurels for himself in the course of discharging his duties.
Indeed he came well prepared for the job having acquired a degree in economics and another degree in Sharia and Islamic Studies. He made history as the first CEO of First Bank from the north in it’s over a century existence. It was from there he was appointed governor of the Central Bank in2009
As he departs from office, whoever would succeed him must be well grounded in the banking industry and culture. Before Sunusi, Prof Charles Soludo also another economist, had brought changes that helped in shaping the subsequent reforms of Sanusi. For instance, it was during his tenure that the Banks Consolidation was achieved. His tenure raised the capital base of banks to N25billion.This compelled many banks to be either fused or merged with others to form one strong entity that can compete globally.
It is instructive to note that both Sanusi and Soludo are ‘home grown’ economists. None of them acquired a foreign degree. Soludo in particular acquired subsequent qualifications from his Alma Mata, the University Nigeria Nsukka. Before Soludo was appointed governor, he was presidential adviser on economic matters. A job that probably prepared him for headship of the apex bank. What Soludo lacked in real commercial banking experience was probably made up by his deep theoretical understanding of the complexities of managing an economy like Nigeria’s.
The traditional functions of a central bank include formulating and implementing monetary policy, determining interest rates and directing money supply – to achieve price stability; regulating and supervising the banking and financial systems, managing foreign reserve and ensuring the stability of financial markets.
it is apparent they play crucial roles in overseeing the financial services sector of the economy. In some countries, they protect the national economies from major crises that could have driven the economies over the cliff.
Therefore, the successor of Sunusi Lamido must possess some, or all of these qualities of both the out-going governor, Sanusi and his predecessor that was Soludo. Among the qualities that stand both Sunusi and Soludo out is their background as trained economist. In addition to that, Sunusi has had commercial banking experience rising through the ranks to be the Managing Director of Nigeria’s oldest bank.
These qualities and hands –on experience of the workings of the Apex bank will be added advantage for Sunusi’s successor. It is not altogether impossible to find someone who fits this bill. The federal government will do well to beam its searchlight inwards and find someone who has all of these qualities to give its transformation agenda further boost.
•Maitabari wrote in from Kaduna