New CBN Governor and Auditor-General to Emerge in April


From all indications, the Federal Government will announce the names of new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) in April 2009.

The tenures of current CBN Governor, Professor Charles Soludo from Anambra State and Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. O. R. Ejenavi from Delta State will lapse in May 2009.


The release of the names before the expiration of their periods, will afford the legislators to work on the nominations from the President for the two powerful offices in the nation’s monetary and accounting system.


While the present Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. O. R. Ejenavi from Delta State will be due for retirement on age ground on May 18, 2009, the current Governor of the Central Bank, Prof. Charles Soludo will complete his first tenure of five years on May 29, 2009, going by the amended Act of the Bank.


Strict obedience to the civil service rule will be observed to guide in the appointment of new Auditor General for the Federation going by the constitutional provision. Section 86 Subsection 1 of the 1999 constitution states: “the Auditor-General for the Federation shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Federal Civil Service Commission, subject to the confirmation of the Senate.” That of the CBN may be determined by other factors, mostly political considerations which are at the pleasure of the President without recourse to the commission.


The most senior director in the office of the Auditor General currently is Mr. Ogunsina G. F from Ekiti who may be appointed uunless there is political maneuvering. Having being a director since 2004, it may not be smooth sailing for Ogunsina because, there is another senior civil servant Mr. Osonuga T. A. from Ogun State who was promoted a director in 2007 and is being propelled by other forces to occupy the office.


The Economic Confidential discovered that the two accounting bodies in the country that have always being at loggerheads Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) and the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN) are also secretly campaigning for their respective member for the job. The two directors in Office of the Auditor-General are chartered accountants from the two different accounting bodies. Ogunsina is a member of the Association of Nigerian Accountant (ANAN), while Osonuga is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN).


Most of the civil servants, especially in the Office of the Auditor-General are already campaigning for the emergence of the most senior director in the person of Ogunsina for the post. This they believe will recognize and respect the civil service hierarchy of appointment and to ward off appointment of an outsider (non-core civil servant) for the conservative and professional post of the Auditor-General.


The nomination for the office of Governor of the Central Bank, Economic Confidential gathered, is going to take a lot of considerations including the federal character principles, the states and regions of past governors of the Bank amongst others. The past Nigerian heads of the bank included Clement Isong (Akwa-Ibom), Adamu Ciroma (Yobe); Ola Vincent (Lagos), Abdulkadir Ahmed (Bauchi); Paul Ogwuma (Abia)  Joseph Sanusi (Ondo) and the current Prof. Charles Soludo (Enugu).


While there are presently subtle moves by top bankers and financial experts especially from the South for the renewal of Soludo’s tenure, the forces against his second tenure are too powerful to be ignored by even the President. The campaign for his removal which started with his controversial proposal for redenomination of Naira, few months after inauguration of the present administration, has continued unabated with Northern elites clamouring for a replacement with a candidate from the zone.


The Northerners are not comfortable with him over the banking consolidation which they claimed denied the North any influence in most of the licensed banks. In a surprise move, a maverick billionaire from the South, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim expressed the sentiment in a recent interview when he publicly called for the removal of Soludo as Governor of CBN. Ibrahim said the entire Northern Nigerian 19 states whose population represents about 55% of the entire country only has one bank, while the South has controlled of 24 banks.


The northern political class are presently confused on which zones in its three geopolitical zones should produce the next governor of CBN.


In the early stage of the campaign, Mallam Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi from Katsina State and present Chief Economic Adviser to the President was touted to be the next governor but with the turn of event and his perceived interest in the power sector, the campaign for his nomination has subdued.


In an investigation by the Economic Confidential, six professionals from the North who have held top banking positions are being proposed for the job of CBN Governor. Leading the pack of the candidates is the present Governor of Bauchi State and in-law of the President, Mallam Isa Yuguda. Others being considered include the present Minister of National Planning Dr.Shamsudeen Usman (Kano) who was former Deputy Governor of the CBN and Minister of Finance; Mailafia Obadiah (Nasarawa), an economist and also former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; Mallam Mohammed Hayatudeen (Borno), former Managing Director FSB International Bank; Mallam Sunusi Lamido Sunusi (Kano), the present Managing Director of First bank of Nigeria and Mr. Falalu Bello ( Kaduna) Managing Director of Unity Bank.


If Federal Character principle will be applied, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State may not be considered because the last Northerner and longest serving CBN Governor, Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed was from Bauchi State. Alhaji Adamu Chiroma who also held the post in the past was from Yobe State which is part of North-East zone which may likely affect Mohammed Hayatudeen toofrom Borno State.


Though Sunusi Lamido Sunusi and Falalu Bello may be contented  with their present positions as the only two Northerners to be chief executives of banks in Nigeria, their radical and principled stance, especially Sunusi may not fit into office of CBN Governor which requires flexibility and occasional dancing to political tunes. They may not be easily swayed to take unprofessional decisions, including political against ethical practices.  According to a reliable source “it will also be suicidal if North sacrifices either Sunusi or Falalu for CBN job when we are struggling to have control on some of the banks.”


Some politicians from North-West and North Central, the only regions that had never produced governor for the bank are strategizing to ensure candidates from their zones are considered for the top lucrative office in monetary policy in the country. With the unpredictable nature of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a surprise may also be in the offing as other powerful lobbyists even from the North are routing for some southerners for the post of CBN governors. Remi Babalola, the current Finance Minister of State and Professor Okonjo Iweala, Managing Director of the World Bank are listed among potential candidates for the CBN job.


There is a strong belief that Governor Yuguda of Bauchi State may likely be a prefered candidate out of over ten candidates going by his political and social engagements lately. According to a keen observer of unfolding events: “In Nigeria anything can happen. Yuguda has just acquired new social credential by marrying a President’s daughter and will soon cap it up with political credential by decamping from his political party ANPP to the President’s party PDP. Ethics and morality aside, politicians have their ways of winning their case.”


For sure April 2009 will be the end of campaigns for the two exalted offices of Governor of CBN and Auditor General of the Federation.