CBN: Buhari Shops For Emefiele’s Replacement

By Bayo Bernard

Central Bank of Nigeria’s, CBN, governor, Godwin Emefiele is among some cabinet ministers appointed last week by President Muhammadu Buhari as members of Audit and Project committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The committee made up of top ministers in the administration is expected to design a new working template for the administration in the next four years.

Buhari has been declared winner of the presidential election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and he’s expected to be in office till 2023.

Apart from the CBN boss other members of the committee are Chief of Staff to the President, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Minister of Finance, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment as well as the Minister of Transportation.

Others are the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister of Water Resources, National Security Adviser and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs Office.

The five year tenure of the CBN boss is expected to end by June this year amidst serious speculation that he would not be allowed to run a fresh new term.

This must have somehow led to rumor few weeks ago that the CBN chief has been sacked by the president. The apex bank later debunked the rumor, insisting that Emefiele will remain in office till June this year.

Emefiele later disclosed that his achievements have sustained him in office in the last five years.

“The intervention programmes of the CBN have been on since 1978 and it has moved from one governor to another I am very optimistic that even if another governor comes, no right thinking person will abandon an initiative that is laudable and that is meant to create jobs for the good of our country,” he said

The question is whether this is enough to help him keep his job as the nation’s number one banker in Buhari’s new government.

Some close aides of the CBN governor insist that his appointment into the Osinbajo committee is proof that he will not be among those to be discarded in the new regime.

President Buhari has recently hinted that some minsters in his cabinet will be dropped to pave way for new ones.

Others say the CBN governor must have warmed his way back to power key allies of the president from the north.

This is still far-fetched. But very close sources in the presidency and even the CBN told the magazine that the issue of his re-appointment has since been foreclosed by the presidency.

A source told the magazine that President Buhari is currently shopping for a seasoned banker from the northern part of the country “to assist him in the formulation of monetary and fiscal policy for the next four years.”

Among those being tipped to replace the former managing director of Zenith Bank, the magazine learned is Aisha Ahmad Kuru.

The president is also focusing on both the public and private sector for a northerner that can fit into the sensitive position, according to Aso Rock sources.

Aishah Ahmad is a Nigerian accountant, financial analyst and financial manager.

She is currently a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria since her appointment on 6 October, 2017.

She replaced Sarah Alade, who retired in March 2017. She was confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on 22 March, 2018.

But a top source in the presidency told the magazine this week that President Buhari may not be disposed to the appointment of a woman to such a sensitive position as the CBN governor

Apart from the fact that the presidency favors a northern candidate to step into the shoes of Emefiele, the magazine learned that various interest groups mounting intense pressure for his re-appointment has received a cold shoulder from the president.

President Buhari is not very keen at working with CBN governor in his new term the source said, siting various reasons, including the fact that he was inherited from the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Since he assumed power in 2015, the president is said to have expressed reservation with Emefiele as apex bank boss.

Emefiele: Buhari shops for his replacement

Some senior officials in the government believe that the CBN boss cannot be totally exonerated from some financial transaction by the previous administration which are now been investigated by the EFCC.

For instance, the $2billion arms cash involving former National Security Adviser, Dasuki Sambo, is believed to have been released from the CBN.

The belief in the circle of close aides of the president is that due diligence was not strictly followed in before cash was released by the apex bank.

The CBN head has also been blamed by Buhari inner circle for the brazen manner money was spent during that year’s election that the initial plan was to sack him as soon as Buhari mounted the presidency.

“The constitutional requirement was one of the reasons that prevented President Buhari from sacking him, even though there were serious pressure mounted on him to do so, from the party and those close to the president as soon as he came to power.

They told the president to give him the Sanusi treatment whereby, he would be suspended over alleged financial infractions in the CBN, paving room for his replacement,” the source said.

A two-third vote in the Nigeria’s Senate is required to remove the governor of CBN from office.

Recall that former CBN governor now Emir of Kano was suspended in 2014 and later sacked by Ex-President Jonathan.

But Emefiele, the magazine has learned managed to remain in office in the past four years in spite of serious pressure on the president to change him.

Sources told the magazine that the pressure somehow subsided following various monetary policy framework by the CBN that supported the administration programmes, particularly in the area of agriculture.

For instance, the Anchor-Borrower policy that has created jobs in the agri-business sector is one of the few successful policies of this government, analysts say.

Apart from this, the synergy between the CBN and ministry of finance to work out a strategy to get the country out of economic recession in the first two years of this administration further weakened the presidency resolve to kick Emefiele out of office, according to another school of thought.

‘You don’t sack a winning team particularly in the midst of economic crisis. President Buhari came on board, few months after the nation entered a period of economic recession. Imagine a situation where you don’t have people who are on top of their game in CBN what would have happened.

I think the Emefiele team proved its worth at that critical period and for their effort the country would have entered the next stage of economic shock,” Charles Akinbola, a financial analyst said.

But forces working against the CBN boss appear to have regrouped to make sure he leaves office in three months’ time.

Citing various reasons, the magazine was told that the CBN boss will no longer fit into President Buhati permutation, and that many things have change in the last few months.

For example, the magazine learned that the president is likely to rejig his cabinet by the time he’s sworn in on May 2019, the beginning of his fresh four years in office.

Under this arrangement, the president is expected to appoint the minister of finance from the south, in that case, the CBN governor will be appointed from the north in line with tradition, analysts say.

Under President Jonathan former World Bank managing Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was minister of finance while Sanusi was CBN governor.

Even though President Buhari cannot be compelled to keep the tradition, sources told the magazine that the only reason that could alter this posture is if the president decides to retain the current minister of finance.

“In that case, the president may appoint the CBN governor from the south. Notwithstanding this fact, President Buhari will not re-appoint the current CBN head,” the source said.

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