BY ERIC TENIOLA
I attended an event recently in Lagos and Chief Joseph Oladele Sanusi (84) from Ogbagi in Akoko North West Local Government of Ondo state, entered quietly, unannounced.
The Master of Ceremony at the event did not even recognize him. I had to tell a friend of mine who sat next to me that he is the eighth governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). My friend then asked me “was he governor under the military” and I replied negatively, but that he was the Central Bank governor between 1999 and 2004 under President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR.
By the way Ogbagi is home to other prominent people including Chief Jibola Aribisala SAN, Dr. Olu Ibukun, retired UN Diplomat, Professor Soji Adesugba, current Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment and others too numerous to mention.
Chief Joseph Sanusi attended the United School, Ogbagi-Irun from 1944-1950, Jubilee Central School, Ikare, 1951 (his classmates then were the late Owa Ale of Ikare, Sir S.K. Adedoyin (1924-2021), the late Akoko leader, Chief Felix Idowu Ayegbusi (1935-2018) and the present Olukare of Ikare, Oba Saliu Akadiri Momoh(89). He later proceeded to St. John’s College, Owo, 1953-1954, St Peter’s College, Kaduna, 1957-1958, South West London College, England, 1961-1966; he joined the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1966 as an account manager, later assistant Chief Internal Auditor, deputy Chief of Banking Operations, departmental director, executive director, Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, later Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, appointed deputy governor, CBN, 1988; associate, Corporation of Chartered Accountants and fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants.
When President Olusegun Obasanjo became the President on May 29 1999, he appointed Chief Sanusi as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. President Obasanjo made the appointment over his Egba born close friend, Chief Oluwole Alani Adeosun (1938-2012), former Managing Director of NAL Merchant Bank, also Managing Director of First Bank of Nigeria, who also served as the Minister of Transport in the Interim Transitional Government headed by Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan GCFR (9 May 1936 – 11 January 2022).
The Central Bank of Nigeria is the apex monetary authority of Nigeria established by the CBN Act of 1958 and commenced operations on 1 July 1959.
The major regulatory objectives of the bank as stated in the CBN Act are to: maintain the external reserves of the country, promote monetary stability and a sound financial environment, and act as a banker of last resort and financial adviser to the federal government. The central bank’s role as lender of last resort and adviser to the federal government has sometimes pushed it into murky regulatory waters. After the end of British imperial rule the desire of the government to become proactive in the development of the economy became visible especially after the end of the Nigerian civil war, the bank followed the government’s desire and took a determined effort to supplement any show shortfalls, credit allocations to the real sector. The bank became involved in lending directly to consumers, contravening its original intention to work through commercial banks in activities involving consumer lending.
During the tenure of Chief Sanusi as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, he embraced collaboration with his deputy governors—Mr. Oluwole S. Oduyemi, Alhaji Mahey R. Rasheed, Mrs Wahir Msheila, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman and Mr. Ernest C. Ebi. He never acted like an alpha and omega.
He quickly introduced foreign exchange controls in an effort to reduce the drain on foreign reserves which had fallen from over $7 billion to under $4 billion in the last two years, during the tenure of the then Head of States, General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943 – 8 June 1998) and General Abdusalam Abubakar (80) GCFR and to defend the naira. Oil revenues, the primary source of foreign exchange, had dropped below the level needed to cover basic requirements. The business community was hostile to the efforts to prop up the currency, believing that devaluation coupled with exchange market reform was necessary.
On Saturday, May 29, 2004, Chief Sanusi’s tenure as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was to end. His term was qualified for a renewal. Few weeks before that date, he had an audience with President Obasanjo in THE VILLA during which he told the President emphatically that he would not serve another term. He elaborated to the President that he would want to spend more time with his wife, Adunke Sanusi alias MAMA TOYIN, who is from Imesi Ile in Obokun Local Government Area of Osun State.
Chief Sanusi tendered his resignation to President Obasanjo, who said he was shocked by Chief Sanusi’s decision. He later instructed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, to write a letter of appreciation on behalf of the Federal Government to Chief Sanusi for his long and rewarding service to the nation.
On Monday, May 31, 2004, my boss, Chief Ufot Ekaette (1939-2019) CFR, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, handed to me, for distribution, a press release on the new appointment of Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo as the new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was a two paragraph press statement.
I had to convince Chief Ekaette to let us delay the announcement until we could get the biography of Professor Soludo.
He obliged and directed me to contact Dr. Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili (59), who was then head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit in the Presidency and who introduced Professor Soludo to President Obasanjo for the appointment. An hour later, Professor Soludo entered my office with his Curriculum Vitae, which I added to the press release and I congratulated him.
That was the last time he ever visited the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Chief Joseph Sanusi’s tenure as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was indeed low profile.
Those who succeeded him, Professor Soludo (29 May 2004-29 May 2009), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (June 4, 2009-June 2, 2014) and Mr Godwin Emefiele (June 3, 2014 to date) took a different route.
Past Governors of the bank–Roy Pentelow Fenton, 24 July 1958 to 24 July, 1963, Alhaji Aliyu Mai-Bornu, 25 July 1963 to 22 June 1967, Dr. Clement Nyong Isong, 15 August 1972 to 24 September, 1975, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, 24 September 1975 to 28 June 1977, Mr. O. Ola Vincent, 28 June 1977 to 28 June 1982, Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed, 28 June 1982 to 30 September 1993 and Dr. Paul Agbai Ogwuma, 1 October 1993 to 29 May 1999, all avoided notoriety while in office.
In 1975, the members of the Constitution Drafting Committee argued among themselves on the exact role of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, especially on monetary matters.
The members of the subcommittee on the Economy, Finance and Division of Powers headed by Dr. Pius Nwabufo Charles Okigbo (1924-2000) from Ojoto Village in Idemili Local Government Area of Anambra State, never wanted a conflict between the Governor of the Central Bank and the Minister of Finance. Other members of the subcommittee were Dr. Bala Usman, Senior Lecturer in History at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Segun Osoba, then Senior lecturer in history at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife), Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, pioneer Commissioner of Economic Development in Lagos State, Dr. O. Oyediran, then Senior lecturer in Political Science at the University of Ibadan, Dr Ali Alhakeem, an Economist and former deputy General Manager, Bank of the North, later full time Chairman Nigerian Indigenisation Board, Chief I.I. Murphy, former Parliamentarian in the first republic and Commissioner in the Old South Eastern State, Dr. E.C. Edozien, Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Ibadan, Professor Sam Aluko, Professor of Economics at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife and Dr. V.P. Diejomaoh, Professor of Economics at the University of Lagos.
The only schedule recommended for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by the subcommittee was the membership of the National Economic Council. In paragraph 4 of their submission, the subcommittee recommended that “the National Economic Council should have the following members: the Vice President as the Chairman, the nineteen governors, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Chairman of the Economic Planning Commission”.
In May 1976, General Olusegun Obasanjo, the then Head of State, appointed a nine-man committee headed by Dr. Okigbo, who was then the Economic Adviser to the Federal Government. The Committee submitted its report to the Government in December, 1976; its findings and recommendations have since then greatly influenced the growth and direction of the Nigerian financial system. At the time of the Okigbo Committee on the Review of Nigerian Financial System in 1977, there were a total of 21 banks in Nigeria comprising 18 commercial and cooperative banks and 3 merchant banks. These 21 banks had a total of 487 branches across the country. By the end of March, 1991 the number of banks had shot up to a total of 115 comprising 62 commercial and cooperative banks and 53 merchant banks with a total branch office network of 2,021. Banking programme was established as a result of the recommendations made by the Okigbo Review Committee in recognition of the vital role which the banking system could play in the transformation of the rural areas of the country.
Furthermore, as a result of the Okigbo Review Committee recommendation, the Federal Government decided to intervene massively in the ownership structure of the erstwhile foreign banks and, in promulgation the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree 1977, banking was classified as a Schedule enterprise requiring mandatory minimum Nigerian participation of 60% of equity share holding.
In the third schedule of the 1979 Constitution it ruled that “the National Economic Council shall comprise the following members, namely—(a) the Vice President who shall be Chairman (b) the Governor of each State; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria established under the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, or any enact replacing the Act.
The National Economic Council shall have power to advise the President concerning the economic affairs of the Federation, and in particular on measures necessary for the co-ordination of the economic planning efforts or economic programmes of the various Governments of the Federation”.
Also in the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution, it states that “the National Economic Council shall comprise the following members—the Vice-President who shall be Chairman (b) the Governor of each State of the Federation; and (c) the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria established under the Central Bank of Nigeria Decree 1991, or any enactment replacing that Decree”.
Until August 20, 1991, the Central Bank was one of the parastatals under the Ministry of Finance. It was General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (81) GCFR, the then Head of State, that promulgated two decrees on that day. The decrees gave full independence to the Central Bank of Nigeria and removed it from the shackles of the Ministry of Finance.
That was during the tenure of Prince Bolasodun Adesunmbo Ajibola (88), former President of the Nigerian Bar Association between 1984 and 1985 and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice from 1985-1991.
The Decrees were Central Bank of Nigeria Decree 24 and Bank and other Financial Institutions Decree 25 of 1991.
Decree 24 gave sole authority to the Central Bank of Nigeria to be responsible for the regulation of banking and other related financial services in Nigeria.
Speaking at a workshop in Lagos in December 1991, Prince Ajibola said “the bank now has the power to set guidelines for any person or institution that engages in the provision of financial services – including commercial and development banks, bureau de change, discount houses, finance houses and even insurance companies. The new powers conferred on the Central Bank of Nigeria have clearly introduced some noteworthy changes in the relationship between several sectors of the country’s financial services which hitherto had been regulated by other functionaries and bodies such as the Director of insurance in the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Securities and Exchange Commission to name only two, Furthermore, Central Bank of Nigeria is now the sole authority for the determination of the exchange of rate of the naira from to time, using any mechanism it deems appropriate. The formulation of the country’s monetary policy is the prerogative of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the policies may only be modified by the President of Nigeria in writing whenever he so decides.”
Details of Decree 24 of 1991 as promulgated by General Babangida state that “there shall be for the Bank a Board of Directors (hereinafter in this Decree referred to as “the Board”) which shall be responsible for the policy and general administration of the affairs and business of the Bank. (2) The Board shall consist of:- (a) a Governor who shall be the Chairman (b) four Deputy Governors; (c) The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; and (d) five directors. (3) The Board constituted under subsection (2) of this section shall be responsible for:- (a) the consideration and approval of the annual budget of the Bank; (b) the approval of the audited and management accounts and the consideration of the management letter from the external auditors; (c) the formulation of the Monetary and Credit Policy for Nigeria; which the Bank shall buy and sell foreign currencies; (d) devising suitable mechanism to determine rates of exchange at which the Bank shall buy and sell foreign currencies; (e) the appointment of auditors in accordance with section 43 of this Decree, the provision of the necessary facilities and the rates of remuneration; (f) the establishment and closing of Zonal Offices, Branches and Currency Centres; (g) carrying out of such other activities as are necessary and expedient for the purposes of achieving the objectives of the Bank. (4) It shall be the duty of the Board to approve the detailed responsibilities of each of the Deputy Governors on the recommendation of the Governor. (5) Without prejudice to subsection (4) of this section, the Board may, on the recommendation of the Governor, assign or re-assign the Deputy Governors, from time to time, as may be expedient for the performance of the Bank’s functions under or pursuant to this Decree. 7. (1) The Governor or in his absence, one of the Deputy Governors nominated by him, shall be in charge of the day-to-day management of the Bank and shall be answerable to the Board for his acts and decisions. (2) The provisions of subsection (1) of section 6 of this Decree shall apply in relation to the general policy pursued or intended to be pursued on any administrative matters including staff pensions, salaries, allowances and any other similar matters. 8. 9. (1) The Governor and Deputy Governors shall be persons of recognised financial experience and shall be appointed by the President by instrument under the public seal and on such terms and conditions as may be set out in their respective letters of appointment. (2) The Governor and Deputy Governors shall be appointed in the first instance for a team of five years and shall each be eligible for re-appointment for another term not exceeding 5 years. Provided that, of the first four Deputy Governors to be so appointed, one shall in the first instance be appointed for three years and two shall in the first instance be appointed for four years. Amendment Decree No. 41 of 1999 Management of the Bank Amendment Decree No. 41 of 1999 Appointment of Governor and Deputy Governors. Amendment Decree No. 37 of 1998 Amendment Decree No. 41 of 1999 (3) Notwithstanding subsection (1) or (2) of this section, the President may extend the tenure of office of the Governor, any Deputy Governor or any other Director of the Bank whose term of office has expired until a successor to such Governor, Deputy Governor or Director is appointed. (4) The Governor shall – (a) from time to time, keep the Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces informed of the affairs of the Bank: and (b) at the end of every period of six months make a formal report of the affairs of the Bank to the Provisional ruling Council. 10. The Governor and the Deputy Governors shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office shall not occupy any other office or employment whether remunerated or not: Provided that the Governor or any of the Deputy Governors may by virtue of his office be appointed with the approval of the Board to – (a) act as member of any commission established by the Federal Government to enquire into any matter affecting currency or banking in Nigeria; (b) become Governor, Director or member of the Board or by whatever name called, of any international bank or international monetary institution to which the Federal Government shall have interest or given support or approval; (c) become Director of any corporation in Nigeria in which the Bank may participate under paragraph (I) of subsection (1) of section 27 of this Decree. 11. (1) The five Directors of the Bank shall be appointed by the President. (2) A Director appointed pursuant to this section shall be a person of recognised standing and experience in financial or banking affairs, but whilst a Director of the Bank, he shall not be regarded or act as a delegate on the board of any Federal, State or Local Government or of any commercial, financial, agricultural, industrial, or other interest with which he may have been connected before his appointment as a Director of the Bank. (3) A Director appointed pursuant to this section shall (a) hold office for three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for another term of three years only; (b) be entitled to such fees and allowances as may be prescribed by rules made in that behalf by the Board and approved by the President. 12. (1) No person shall be appointed or shall remain Governor, Deputy Governor or Director of the Bank if he is – (a) a member of any Federal or State legislative house; (b) a Director, officer or employee of any bank licensed under the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Decree 1991. (2) The Governor, any Deputy Governor or any Director shall cease to hold office in the Bank if he – (a) becomes of unsound mind or, owing to ill health, is incapable of carrying out his duties; (b) is convicted of any offence involving dishonesty or any other offence the maximum penalty of which exceeds imprisonment for six months; c) is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties under this Decree; Governor and Deputy Governors to be fully devoted to the service of the Bank. Amendment Decree No. 79 of 1993 Appointment of other Directors. Amendment Decree No. 79 of 1993 Disqualification and cessation of appointment 1991 No. 25 (d) is disqualified or suspended from practising his profession in Nigeria by order of a competent authority made in respect of him personally; c) becomes bankrupt or suspends payments or compounds with his creditors. (3) The governor or any Deputy Governor may resign his office by giving at least three months’ notice in writing to the President of his intention to do so; and any Director may similarly resign by giving at least one month’s notice in writing to the President of his intention to do so. (4) If the Governor, any Deputy Governor or any Director of the Bank dies, resigns or otherwise vacates his office before the expiry of the term for which he has been appointed, there shall be appointed a fit and proper person to take his place on the Board for the unexpired period of the term of appointment in the first instance – (a) If the vacancy is that of the Governor or a Deputy Governor, the appointment shall be made in the manner prescribed by section 9 (1) of this Decree; and (b) If the vacancy is that of any Director, the appointment shall be made in the manner prescribed by section 11(1) of this Decree”.
In addition, every staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria must sign a form of declaration of allegiance and secrecy.
At present, the following are members of the Committee of Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria. They are Mr. Godwin Emefiele (CON) (Chairman, Board of Directors) Governor, Serving Since Tuesday, June 03, 2014 – To Date, Mrs. Aishah N, Ahmad (Board Member), Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability Directorate Serving Since Friday, March 23, 2018 – To Date, Mr. Edward L. Adamu (Board Member) Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Directorate Serving Since Friday, March 23, 2018 – To Date, Mr. Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi (Board Member), Deputy Governor, Operations Directorate
Serving Since Wednesday, October 17, 2018 – To Date, Dr. Kingsley Obiora (Board Member)
Deputy Governor, Economic Policy Directorate Serving Since Monday, March 02, 2020 – To Date, Non-executive Board Members and their Profiles, Prof. Justitia O. Nnabuko (Board Member),Director Serving Since 7/7/2018 – To Date, Adeola S. Adetunji (Board Member)
Director, Serving Since 7/7/2018 – To Date, Prof. Mike I. Obadan (Board Member)
Director,Serving Since 7/7/2018 – To Date, Prof. Ummu A. Jalingo (Board Member)
Director,Serving Since 7/7/2018 – To Date, Accountant General of The Federation
Serving Since 7/7/2018 – To Date, Dr. Abdu Abubakar (Board Member) Director Serving since 4/4/2019 – To Date, Mr. Aliyu Ahmed (Board Member) Director, Serving Since 9/25/2020 – To Date
I am not sure whether the present Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria had carried his deputy governors fully in the implementation of many of his monetary policies. The deputy governors have important roles to play if we are to go by the decree which is now named Central Bank Act.
If you look at the high profile of the present governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, one will know that his actions do not conform to the provisions of the decree and the oath of allegiance. He acts like a pop star and talks like partisan politicians. Definitely our money cannot be safe with such a person.
For those who read about foreign affairs, the name Andrew Bailey does not sound familiar, yet he has been Governor of the Bank of England since March 2020.
He hardly talks. Same with Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in America, the equivalent of the Central Bank in Nigeria.
One of the most admired past Chairman of the Federal Reserve in America was Alan Greenspan, who served from August 11, 1987 to February 1, 2006. He rarely spoke. He once said “to succeed, you will soon learn, as I did, the importance of a solid foundation in the basics education”. How many times do we hear of the Governor of the Central Bank of England going to the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street almost on a weekly basis or do we hear of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board going to the White House to see the President of the United States of America often.
In the past in this country, we rarely saw the face of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. It is his spokesmen like Tony Ede and others, who from time to time issue press statements. Now the situation we have contradicts the old golden days, to the extent that it was rumoured that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria wanted to take part in partisan politics. The high profile of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria contradicts the ethics of a public servant.
A man who is supposed to keep and protect our money should avoid such behavior. His attempt last year to enter the presidential race is anything but frivolous. If his wish is to serve the people or make money, he does not need to be President. His present job is an opportunity to serve the people. The other point is his piety and fidelity to the President. No doubt, the President appointed him like he appointed the deputy governors of the Central Bank. But his loyalty is to Nigerians and not to the President’s family or friends or relations. He should take another look at his declaration of allegiance and secrecy which he swore to.
His customers are Nigerians.
The main objective of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is to promote the good of the people of Nigeria and maintain monetary and financial stability. Nothing more, nothing less.
.Eric Teniola is a veteran journalist and a retired Director in the Presidency.