27 March 2014

Nigeria: Emefiele Confirmed As CBN Governor

The Senate yesterday confirmed Mr. Godwin Emefiele's appointment as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The confirmation is coming three months ahead of the expiration of the tenure of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was suspended from office by President Goodluck Jonathan on February 20 over alleged "financial recklessness."

Mr. Emefiele was grilled by the lawmakers for two hours before he was confirmed.

Emefiele commended the regime of the suspended CBN governor Sanusi for saving many Nigerian banks from the brink of collapse as a result of the 2008-2009 banking crisis.

"We must congratulate the management of the CBN because what the CBN has done in 2009 is to ensure that there is stability," he said.

"They have done an excellent job through the banking supervision department. They deserve to be commended for making sure that we have a sound financial system."

Responding to questions from Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) on the alleged deficit of about N266 billion incurred by the CBN in 2013, Emefiele said: "If my appointment is approved I will look into the various expenditure components of the CBN."

However, the CBN governor designate said such probes will not affect all expenditure components of the bank because "we have operational and administrative expenditure profiles. If its operational expenditure we can't do anything about it because those are expenditures incurred in the course of open market operation which is needed to ensure that we maintain a strong currency and ensure that we continue to have a good economy."

Emefiele carefully avoided answering questions on the suspension of Sanusi over missing $20 billion oil revenue because according to him, "it is in court and it will be subjudice for me to say anything."

He opposed moves by the National Assembly to whittle down the powers of the CBN saying it would negatively affect the country's economy. "It is your core mandate to amend laws but let's take decisions that are in line with best practices or else it will affect the country. Study the issue in different parts of the world whether their central banks have autonomy or not."

Emefiele who was the Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc until his appointment also said his regime will work to stop what he called "dollarisation" of the Nigerian economy in which some organisations and institutions insist on making payments only in the United States dollars.

On the continuing accumulation of bad debts by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Emefiele said the corporation "was a child of necessity" and that if the toxic assets of the banks were not detoxicated many banks would have been liquidated."

The 53-year-old Delta-born banker also took time to reel out his vision for the Nigerian economy and planned programme of activities when he assumes duty in June.

He revealed that as a matter of priority the monetary policy decisions under his watch would be geared towards employment generation because according to him, "Nigeria is in employment emergency".

"We will introduce the development banking model which has been tried and tested in different jurisdictions in the world which will lead to the industrialisation of the country," he pledged.

At exactly 1:36pm the Senate President banged the gavel after a unanimous vote approving Emefiele's appointment as CBN governor.

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