Chukwuma Soludo: The Jostle for his Job

The race to succeed Professor Chukwuma Soludo as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria whose tenure expires in May is full of intrigues. Curiously, the most recurring of the names being touted to succeed him is the current democratically elected Governor of Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda, who is a son-in-law of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The Guardian writes…

See also Lamido Sanusi as Next CBN Governor

The race to succeed Soludo 

As Prof. Chukwuma Soludo’s first as Governor of the CBN expires in May, the race to succeed him by those who believe-or perhaps know-that he will not be reappointed, may have begun in earnest. And a few names have been touted. But, curiously, the most recurring of them all is the current democratically elected Governor of Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda, who is a son-in-law of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. THE end of the renewable tenure of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo in May has once again opened the race to succeed him.

Though his first term is to end in May, the race to discredit him, apparently to scuttle the chances of his reappointment, started a long time ago, especially with the African Finance Corporation (AFC) saga, when some traducers alleged that he caused the Nigerian government to lose some money in the organization-which is not exactly correct.

After the consolidation exercise, the CBN governor, in his quest for a better economy for Nigeria, initiated the idea of AFC, an economic blueprint for the establishment of a strong financial institution of African background, where Nigeria could be a strong shareholder for the development of the country and other Africa countries. But before the initiatives could see the light of the day, hawks within the corridors of power, desirous of Soludo office, raised an alarm, alleging irregularities in the whole thing.

A committee set up to investigate the finance invested in the project by CBN later exonerated Soludo, when it found out that no money was actually missing after all. Since the withdrawal of the funds from the project, nobody has heard anything about where the funds are or what they were used for. That was after their attempt to have him kicked out over the Naira redenomination failed to have the backing of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Contention for the head of the country’s monetary system is getting murkier, with some people and a section of the country bent on hijacking the position, irrespective of the achievements of Soludo and the fact that the Yar’Adua government is yet to find its feet in terms of monetary policies.  

Sectional interests and Federal character 

Interestingly, appointment of CBN governor is based more on extraneous political considerations at the whim of the President than on real and concrete issues of competence. But it also takes into account issues of federal character principles, the states and regions of past governors. The past Nigerian heads of the bank included Aliyu Mai-Borno (Borno, 1963-1967) Clement Isong (Akwa-Ibom, 1972-1975), Adamu Ciroma (Yobe, 1975-1977); Ola Vincent (Lagos, 1977-1982), Abdulkadir Ahmed (Bauchi, 1982-1993); Paul Ogwuma (Abia, 1993-1999) Joseph Sanusi (Ondo, 1999-2004) and the current Prof. Charles Soludo (Anambra, 2004 to date).

Just as some notable bankers and financial experts from the South would want Soludo’s tenure renewed, at least to further stabilise the system, those against his retention are too powerful to be waved off. These include some members of the Northern elite, who want one of their own to take over. One of the grouses of the Northerners, it was gathered, is their perceived marginalisation in Soludo’s banking consolidation, which they claimed denied the region any influence in most of the licensed banks.

Banks that met N25 billion minimum capital requirement include Access Bank; Afribank; Diamond Bank; Ecobank; Equatorial Trust Bank; First City Monument Bank; Fidelity Bank; First Bank Plc; First Inland Bank; Guaranty Trust Bank; IBTC-Chartered Bank; Intercontinental Bank; Nigeria International Bank (Citi Bank); Oceanic Bank; Platinum Bank; Skye Bank; Spring Bank; Stanbic Bank; Standard Chartered Bank; United Bank of Africa; Sterling Bank; Union Bank; Unity Bank; Wema Bank; and Zenith Bank Plc.

The 14 banks, which failed to meet the requirements during the consolidation exercise and therefore went for liquidation included African Express (Afex) Bank; Allstates Trust Bank; Assurance Bank; City Express Bank; Eagle Bank; Fortune International Bank; Gulf Bank; Hallmark Bank; Lead Bank; Liberty Bank; Metropolitan Bank; Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria; Trade Bank; and Triumph Bank.

The failed banks that were acquired by stronger banks through Purchase and Acquisition are Allstates Trust Bank and Hallmark Bank by Ecobank; Trade Bank Plc and City Express Bank by UBA; and Assurance Bank by Afribank. Lead Bank and Metropolitan Bank were taken over by other banks.

Recently, Chairman of NICON Insurance, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim expressed the sentiment of the North by publicly calling for the removal of Soludo, saying the entire 19 states of the North, representing about 55 per cent of the country only, control only one bank, as against the South’s control of 24. It is not certain whether he was speaking or fronting for Northern interests, especially since his call on the CBN to print more naira notes to stabilise the liquidity system attracted harsh criticisms from financial and monetary experts.

But it would be recalled that the CBN on March 30, 2005, released a revised procedures manual for processing application for bank mergers/takeovers, in which banks wishing to merge or acquire would be required to undergo three stages of approval- pre-merger consent from the CBN, approval-in-principle and final approval. In April 2005, the CBN offered N73 billion reprieve to eight weak and heavily indebted banks, including the defunct Bank of the North, which was the highest beneficiary to the tune of about N33billion.

Though the move generated widespread criticism, Soludo then said investors were no longer interested in the banks, because of their huge indebtedness to the CBN, noting that that would have amounted to the liquidation of the banks, with the CBN losing everything. Many saw the CBN move as a subtle way to encourage northern participation in post-consolidation banking industry in Nigeria, even at the risk of accusation of undue favouritism of the region. But no matter

However, the Northern political class appears confused over which of its three geopolitical zones should produce the next governor of CBN, in case the tenure of Soludo is not renewed. The alleged interest of one of the President’s economic eggheads to succeed Soludo seems to be waning, particularly with his perceived interest in the power sector.

Apart from Yuguda, who has been appointed into almost all national committees of late, others said to be in contention are the present Minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman (Kano), who was former Deputy Governor of the CBN and immediate past Minister of Finance; Mailafia Obadiah (Nasarawa), an economist and also former Deputy Governor of CBN; Mohammed Hayatudeen (Borno), former Managing Director FSB International Bank; Sunusi Lamido Sunusi (Kano), present Managing Director of First Bank of Nigeria and Falalu Bello (Kaduna), Managing Director of Unity Bank.

If the federal character principle is allowed to take root, Yuguda’s chances are slimmest, because the last Northerner and longest serving CBN governor, Ahmed, hailed from Bauchi State and the Northeast. Mai-Borno and Ciroma are also from Northeast axis, which might affect the chances of Hayatudeen. Though Sunusi and Bello may be contented with their present positions, being the only two Northerners who are chief executives of banks in Nigeria, their radical and principled stance might not fit into office of CBN governor, which requires flexibility and having to occasionally dance to political tunes.

In any case, it is doubtful if the North would want to ‘release’ any of them, while at the same time clamouring for more bank chief executives of Northern extraction. From available statistics, only the Northwest and North-Central geopolitical zones have not produced the CBN governor, and they are leaving no stone unturned to make sure one of them get a shot at it this time around. Even at these, current Minister of State, Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola is one of the Southerners being touted as replacement, in case Soludo must go. Interestingly, all the contenders being mentioned are very qualified for the job, with all of them commanding years of experience in the banking industry, long enough to understand the turf and visionary enough to do the job.

It would not be unusual if Soludo does not get re-appointed fro a second tenure. Of all the former governors, only Ahmed could be said to have got a second ticket, serving over 10 years. Also, it would not be new for a serving Nigerian President to appoint the CBN governor from his zone, North or South. After all, the last two governors during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo- Sanusi and Soludo- are from the South. Perhaps what is becoming curious in recent federal appointments is that the Northwest appears to be getting the juicy of them. Some Northerners allege that appointments going to the North are not being evenly spread amongst the three zones of the North. So, they fear that other geopolitical zones of the North might still be short-changed in the coming appointments.

Be that as it may, Yuguda still holds the ace in the race to succeed Soludo, if he is not re-appointed. The only edge being that he is the President’s son-in-law. But observers are at a loss why his name should be mentioned at all, being a serving state governor, in a country where it is almost automatic, especially for a President’s son-in-law, to secure a second term in office. In the end, other consideration could weigh in favour of who might win the President’s ear, including even Soludo.  

The candidate’s profiles 

  • The Man Soludo

 THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo is a man of the first class accomplishments. He holds a First Class honour in Economics, as well as a Masters and doctorate in the same field from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he bagged several academic prizes and awards. Soludo has also cumulative four years of post- doctoral training in some of the world’s best institutions, including The Brookings Institution, Washington, United States (US); University of Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar; University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK), as Smuts Research Fellow and Fellow of the Wolfson College; and University of Warwick, as visiting scholar. He also attended over a dozen short-term specialised courses abroad.

He became a Professor at his alma mater in 1998 at the age of 38, a record-breaking feat in the school’s history. Before he joined the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as his Chief Economic Adviser and Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission (NPC) from July 2003 to May 2004, Soludo was Professor at the UNN and Executive Director of the African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE); chairman of Queens Computerworld Limited; consultant to many international organisations; and served in several technical committees to draft economic and trade policies for the federal government. His credentials as a revolutionary reformer are obvious since he assumed office, including revolutionarising the banking sector with a 13-point agenda, articulated in his famous July 6, 2004 speech to the Bankers’ Committee, whose most popular element was the N25 billion minimum capital base requirements for banks.


  • Isa Yuguda

 NOT many Nigerians would remember that Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda was a banker for many years, let alone being a bank chief executive. Rather, he is mostly remembered as a serving state governor of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), who recently married the President’s daughter and is planning to ditch his party to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from where he joined the ANPP to contest the governorship, as well as a former Minister of Aviation, who announced the banning of Slok Airlines in Nigeria. Shortly after his national service at Modern Agricultural and Industrial Consultancies, Ibadan, as a research officer in 1980, Yuguda joined the Federal Mortgage Bank in Bauchi, as the mortgage manager. But he moved over to Savannah Bank, as the credit manager in Kano three years later. In 1968, he became manager of the Sokoto branch of the bank, and between 1987 and 1991, he was the manager of the Abuja branch.

He left Savannah Bank for Inland Bank Nigeria Plc in 1992, as acting general manager. He was later appointed its managing director/chief executive the same year. After seven years of at Inland Bank, Yuguda joined NAL Merchant Bank Plc as managing director/chief executive He was appointed Minister of State for Transport by Obasanjo and later redeployed to the Ministry of Aviation as full minister in 2003. He superintended federal government’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Virgin Atlantic Limited that gave birth to Virgin Nigeria, which replaced the defunct Nigeria Airways. He is an alumnus of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where he obtained his first degree in Economics in 1979, and University of Jos, where he earned a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 1999.

He has attended the Chief Executive programme of the Lagos Business School (LBS), Advanced Treasury Management course of Richard Gardner, London, and Intensive Credit Training course at Chase Manhattan Bank, London. Yuguda is a member of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM). Born in June 1956, he recently married one of President Yar’Adua’s daughters.  

  • Shamsudeen Usman

 DR. Shamsudeen Usman made his mark in public life at the Government College, Keffi in Nasarawa State, where his leadership potentials and academic excellence came to the fore. He was a House Captain and bagged Division 1 (One) at the end of his secondary education there. Usman obtained the Cambridge Higher School Certificate (HSC) from Kings College, Lagos in 1969 and his degree in Economics (Second Class Upper) from ABU, Zaria in 1973. He taught various aspects of Economics at his alma mater and later at Bayero University, Kano and University of Jos, after earning a doctorate in Economics from the London School of Economics in 1980.

From academics, Usman moved to the private sector, first at the Nigerian Industrial Bank. He was an Executive Director at UBA and later Union Bank of Nigeria before becoming Managing Director/Chief Executive of then NAL Bank. He was pioneer Director General of the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation between 1989 and 1991. He capped it as Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria in 1999, where he worked under Soludo. It was from there that he was picked as Minister of Finance by President Yar’Adua. In that capacity, however, Usman could not shine.

He was later to shift the blame for government poor implementation of the 2008 budget to the National Assembly rather than own up his lapses. Observers say that cost him his lucrative job and his subsequent redeployment as Minister of National Planning. As Finance minister, it would be recalled that Usman never hid his disapproval of his former boss, whom some CBN insiders alleged he tried to nail at all cost, especially in the AFC saga. The 57-year-old former banker is a Fellow and past president of Nigerian Economic Society (NES).  

  • Falalu Bello

BORN in February 1954 in Rigachikun, Igabi Council of Kaduna State, Mr. Falalu Bello was educated at Government College, Kaduna and ABU, Zaria, from where he obtained a Bachelor of Law degree (Second Class Upper Division) in 1978 and was called to the Bar in 1979. He started working the following year as a magistrate in Kaduna, but soon transferred his services to the New Nigerian Investment Limited (NNIL) as Senior Legal Executive/Acting Company Secretary. He held the same position at the National Freight Company Limited. In 1983, at 28, he was appointed Kaduna State Commissioner for Trade and Industry for three months before the military coup that toppled the administration of Shehu Shagari in December 1983. Bello later joined the banking industry and quickly rose through the ranks.

At Habib Bank, where he was Senior Manager, he was sent on attachment to the bank’s London Regional Office, where he ran the operation of a small branch at Ealing Broadway. He served in various positions in the bank before being appointed managing director/chief executive of the bank between August 1994 and August 1998. In September 1998, he voluntarily resigned to head the team that repositioned Intercity Bank Plc, first as managing director/chief executive and later as chairman of its Board from December 2001 to December 2005. He was appointed managing director/chief executive of Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (NACRDB) by the federal government in July 2001, but he resigned in July 2002 to go into private business. Like a light that cannot be hidden, Bello‘s experience as in managing some of the country’s banks could not easily be discarded.

So, when Intercity was merged with eight other banks to form Unity Bank Plc, he was recalled from retirement by the Committee of Directors of the new bank to superintend it, which he has been doing successfully since January 2006. Apart from taking Unity Bank to greater heights, Bello has chairman of MBS Merchants Limited from 1997 to date, as well as Kapital Insurance Limited, where the bank is the majority shareholder.

He is a director of British American Tobacco (BAT), Jaiz International Bank Plc and Kakawa Discount House Limited. A member of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) eight years ago, Bello was turbaned the Sarkin Bai of Zauzzau in 1992 by Alhaji Shehu Idris, the Emir of Zauzzau (Zaria) and was in June 2007 upgraded to inherit the title of his late father as the Danmasanin Zazzau. Apart from his expertise, one other thing Bello has going for him in the race is having worked with Habib Bank, where the Yar’Adua family has substantial shareholding.  

  • Obadiah Mailafia

CURRENTLY Deputy Governor in charge of Policy at CBN, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, who assumed office in May 2005, was until his appointment working with the African Development Bank (ADB) in Tunisia, as Chief Economist responsible for Strategic Planning and Corporate Reporting. He served on several important committees and undertook several sensitive missions for the ADB Group.

Born in December 1956 in Randa, Sanga Council of Kaduna State, Mailafia was a student of Mada Hills Secondary School, Akwanga in Nasarawa State between 1970 and 1974, where he won the Commissioner of Education Award for Academic Distinction. He attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria from 1974 to 1978 and graduated with the highest grade of the graduating class in Political Science. After, he obtained his Master’s degree while working as a Graduate Assistant at ABU, Zaria and later won a French Foreign Ministry Scholarship to study International Economics.

He firmed it up with a doctorate in 1994. He was a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholar and received the Webb Medley Award at the University of Oxford. He has had a distinguished career, spanning the academia, government, consulting and international service. He is a Fellow of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos and was on the teaching staff of Oxford University.  

  • Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

 MR. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who on January 1 assumed duties as Managing Director/Chief Executive of the First Bank of Nigeria Plc has distinguished himself in the banking industry. _Son of late Alhaji Aminu Sanusi, the Chiroma of Kano, and a grand son of the 11th Emir of Kano, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi, he is said to be the first Northerner to rise to the position of the managing director of the First Bank, the leading financial institution in Nigeria.

Though Sanusi ventured into banking some time ago, but his light started shining in the industry and indeed the financial circles when he joined the defunct Icon Limited (Merchant Bankers) in the 1980s, rising to the position of the Area Manager, Kano in no time, due to hardwork and resilience. He voluntarily resigned to pursue higher education in Sudan and joined United Bank for Africa (UBA) as Principal Manager II in the Risk Management Division in May 1997. He rose to the position of Principal Manager I in January 1998 and Assistant General Manager (AGM) the same year.

He is said to have spearheaded the establishment of the Group Risk Department of the bank, which he was appointed to head, with the responsibility of transforming the previous Credit Risk Division into an Enterprise Risk Management Sector. _ Perhaps this feat informed First Bank wooing him as Executive Director in charge of Risk Management, and he has not disappointed himself and the bank. As such, his elevation to the post of chief executive was not a surprise. _ A 1981 graduate of Economics from ABU, after attending St. Annes Primary School, Kakuri, Kaduna and Kings College, Lagos, he was at the International University of Africa, Khartoum, Sudan, where he first studied Arabic, before obtaining a second Bachelor’s in Islamic Law.  

  • Mohammed Hayatu-deen

 MR. Mohammed Hayatu-deen, former managing director/chief executive of FSB International Bank, is a hardcore technocrat whose success at the New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) brought to him to limelight in Nigeria ‘s corporate world. A Shuwa Arab of Borno extraction, this ABU, Zaria-trained Economist had used his wealth of experience to resuscitate the once moribund Federal Savings Bank (FSB) into an enduring commercial bank. He had at various times been a member of several financial regulatory bodies, including the Technical Committee On Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC).

In 1992, he assumed office as FSB chief executive and successfully transformed it into a thriving bank, especially by investing heavily in leading edge technology and introducing electronic banking that ensured customers’ easy access to their accounts from their offices. The bank, under Hayatu-deen, was is quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and was one of the first to meet the then N500 million equity set by the CBN, with its growth being steady. Along with 18 other banks, FSB promoted the smart card consortium- Smart card Nigeria Plc- in which it owned 16 percent equity, making it the second highest stakeholder.

It was also one of the 11 banks that invested N250 million in Pioneer Currency Sorting Company Limited, which was billed to operate from eight centres to service the Nigeria banking industry. FSB under him was one of the investors in First Security Discount House Limited, the foremost discount house in Nigeria. Hayatu-deen is one of the brains behind the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) that has set the tone for the restructuring of the Nigerian economy and firming up its foundation.  

  • Remi Babalola

 BEFORE coming to public office, Mr. Remi Babalola, current Minister of State for Finance was Executive Director in First Bank of Nigeria Plc. Prior to that, he was at various times a Deputy General Manager and Divisional Head of Corporate Planning and Group Coordination of the bank. An expert in organisational renewal, value creation and leadership effectiveness, Babalola also worked as a General Manager with Zenith Bank Plc before joining First Bank in 2001, as Financial Controller and Chief Strategist. Before joining the banking industry, he had a four-year stint at Arthur Andersen in charge of Auditing, Consulting, Training and Development assignments in the Banking and Finance Group.

He was also at PriceWaterhouse for over one year. He has experience in corporate strategy, local and international banking operations, trade finance, relationship management and credit analysis. Born on September 8, 1964 in Oyo State, Babalola had his secondary education at Prospect High School, Ibadan, where he graduated with Grade One and higher at Oyo State College of Arts and Science, from where he got admitted into University Of Ibadan from where he graduated with a B.SC degree, Second Class Upper Division in Agricultural Economics). He also attended University Of Lagos and became a chartered accountant as Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

He has attended the West African Basic Accounting Course, Lagos (1988); Firmwide Audit Staff Training School, Segovia, Spain (1989); Audit Senior Training School, Professional Education Centre, Arthur Andersen & Co., Eindhoven, Netherlands (1990); Senior Management Course, Citibank, Nairobi, Kenya (1993); Total Quality Management, Lagos Business School (1995); Advanced Credit Analysis Course, Agusto & Co. (1996); Competitive Strategy Programme, Insead, Fontainebleau, France (2003); Leading Change & Organisational Renewal, Stanford Graduate School of Business, USA (2003); Implementing Strategy, Wharton Business School, USA ( 2004); Developing Strategy for Value Creation, London Business School, UK ( 2004); Making Corporate Boards more Effective, Harvard Business School (2007);

He is a member of Institute of Directors of Nigeria (IOD; honorary member of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN); associate member of Chartered Institute of Taxation Of Nigeria (CITN); associate member, Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM); member of Commonwealth Business Council (CBC); and World Economic Forum and IMF/World Bank Programme of Seminars.