Hours after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu approved the nomination of Yemi Cardoso as new Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Lagos-based Economic analyst, Rasaq Abiola, has called for caution in ensuring that the tenure of Godwin Emefiele is resolved before the new CBN Governor assumes office. This, according to him, will ensure that the Nigeria Government does not set a bad precedence in violating the CBN Act and the extant laws regarding removal and appointment of CBN governors.
Emefiele, who was suspended as CBN governor barely three months ago to enable investigation of corruption allegations, is currently facing some charges in court and has not been formally found guilty. Section 11 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 clarifies the conditions for termination of appointment of any CBN governor.
What the CBN Act Says About Removing The Suspended CBN Governor
The law in part says that the CBN governor can be disqualified from holding the office if he is proven to be of unsound mind or found guilty of any criminal charge. Specifically, the Act states that criminal offences and mental health conditions can result in the CBN Governor’s termination of appointment.
“The Governor, Deputy Governor or Director shall cease to hold office in the Bank if he becomes of unsound mind or, owing to ill health, is incapable of carrying out his duties: is convicted of any criminal offence by a court of competent jurisdiction except for traffic offences or contempt proceedings arising in connection with the execution or intended execution of any power or duty conferred under this Act or the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act.
The Governor can also be removed if he “is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties under this Act: disqualified or suspended from practising his profession in Nigeria by order of a competent authority made in respect of him personally; Becomes bankrupt.”
The Act also empowers the President to terminate the appointment of the CBN governor if the lawmakers approve it: “ The CBN Governor can be removed by the President, Provided that the removal of the Governor shall be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed.”
Although suspended by the President and currently facing investigation and some charges in competent court of law, the suspended Governor Emefiele has not been found guilty and is not suspended from pratcising his profession yet. “He’s only suspended as CBN Governor to enable his investigation,” Abiola said, while advising the federal government to rather adopt one of different available options in resolving the tenure issue.
Abiola cited three ways to resolve Emefiele’s tenure if Cardoso must assume office in the present circumstance:
“For instance, he (Emefiele) can either resign or formerly request to proceed on gardening leave for the rest of his tenure. In the extreme, report may be issued, indicting him perhaps based on any findings of wrong doings from the ongoing investigation which is being rumoured to have uncovered misconduct. It is just better for posterity to resolve it in an appropriate way that aligns with relevant laws before the effective resumption of the new CBN Governor, as such would not only give requisite legitimacy to the new CBN governor but also ensure that he is not distracted by avoidable issues bordering on the unfinished tenure of the suspended Governor.
“Whilst it is not out of place to cite previous removal and appointment of a new CBN Governor, a seemingly bad precedence should not be built on to avoid legitimizing wrong doings. More so, the circumstances are slightly different, with respect to the remaining term in office, hence I do hope and expect that the government would do the right thing in ensuring a legitimate, legal and statutorily correct transition.”
Expectations for the New CBN Governor
Abiola in a a chat with Prime Business Africa on Friday night, however, described Cardoso’s appointment as a good choice, going by his knowledge and antecedents both in private and public service.
In addition, I expect there would be a good handshake between the monetary and fiscal authority, having previously worked closely with Mr. Wale Edun. Hopefully, he is able to take tough decisions, including taking relevant reforms for enhancing the financial system, without fear or favour of any of his acquaintances, including possibilities of erring the interests of some political bigwigs across the divides. As regards capacity, I believe he does have the capacity.
“Perhaps, the only risk I see to his performance and reform impact on the economy is politics, which I do hope he would be able to depoliticize the CBN as an independent institution, with hope of enhancing CBN status to its deserving level. Indeed, a lot of clean ups and surgery clearly awaits the new team and I do hope they get their hands dirty is doing a great job, with neither stains nor oil spills on Nigerians. It would not be a smooth ride, and I do hope that everyone braces up for the roller coaster ride, albeit, it should we should have a good landing and hopefully it’s not too long a haul to ensure Nigerians keep the hope alive.”