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Opinion: Qualities Jonathan should look for in new CBN Governor

The idea of starting banks was not to gather deposits and lend to customers at slightly higher rates. Nor were the crooks contented with round-tripping – buying foreign exchange from the CBN under the pretext of meeting customers’ demands but diverting same to the parallel market. The idea was to carefully collect people’s deposits, steal them, and then watch the bank collapse before fleeing abroad to enjoy the loot happily. Little wonder William K. Black wrote that the best way to rob a bank is to own one. This bank-robbing “business” was booming just before Soludo and Sanusi’s appearance on the CBN scene and their cleaning of the mess.

The next CBN governor should be able to continue on the same path trod by these two predecessors. Topmost on the list of credentials I expect him or her to possess is readiness to do what is right at all times, unencumbered by political or ethnic considerations. He/she should, like Sanusi, act as a whistle-blower and express his opinion always without fear.

Sanusi’s revelation should be his parting gift to Nigerians as he prepares to leave the CBN at the end of his fifth year in June. He has since indicated that he won’t seek a second term. Indeed, the Kano prince may proceed on terminal leave before April. There is therefore little doubt that President Jonathan has started looking for his successor.

I still prefer to see an economist at the helm of the Central Bank. And not just an economist but one made in Nigeria. We have had enough of Europe- and America-trained economists who cannot face the reality of banking in an environment such as ours and are often swayed by overtures from the World Bank and IMF. Like Sanusi, the future CBN chief should have worked in a commercial bank to enable him/her understand banking culture in Nigeria, not elsewhere. There are things one learns by being a Nigerian and working in Nigeria. Understanding the making of the CBN itself would be an added advantage.

Will There Be A Country In 2114?
The centenary celebrations, we have been told, should wait until late February. I don’t know why. Are the politicians planning to play politics with the celebrations? The epochal amalgamation took place in Lokoja on January 1, 1914, during the reign of Lord Frederick Lugard as colonial governor-general.

In making this important appointment, therefore, President Jonathan should now play the statesman and not the politician. Needless to remind him, the next CBN governor would be his best economic adviser as he struggles to realise his transformation agenda. The good news is that there are many qualified Nigerians that can fill the soon-to-be-vacant position. Where he/she comes from is not important. The future of the economy and the nation itself will depend on the choice the president makes.

There would be so many incredible stories of this time that our grandchildren would be wondering whether it was savages or just monsters that one inhabited this part of the world. I hope someone would be able to Google this piece then!

Just before I went on break, three weeks ago, I knew that the scandal uncovered by Central Bank of Nigeria governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi would not be smouldering up until 2014. What I did not know was that government would admit that any money was missing at all. As it turned out, $10.8billion was declared missing after a meeting of all the relevant authorities. Sanusi had, in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, indicated that almost $50billion was missing from oil proceeds. He was not lying, however; the only mistake was in the size of the loot.

In the next five years, I wish to see a CBN governor who has succeeded in forcing banks to bring down their lending rates to less than 5 per cent. I expect our foreign reserves to have hit $500billion. And I expect more robust policies that would steer the ship of the nation’s economy towards calmer waters. Hopefully, the Jonathan government will be able to improve infrastructure, especially power. With the availability of power and capital (from banks), Nigeria’s budding entrepreneurs are likely to eradicate or even end unemployment in the country.

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One other thing that is near-certain is that there will be no Nigeria 100 years from now. By then, oil would have disappeared. The nature of government and education would have changed. Something more advanced than the internet would have emerged to make the existence of boundaries impossible.

Though it is his prerogative to appoint the next CBN governor, the president needs to be helped in writing this job advertisement, because it is one important position that could make or break the economy. In my view, it is even more important than the job of president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But for the monetary policies enunciated by the apex bank and the resilience of ordinary Nigerians who run the informal economy, the Nigerian economy would have collapsed within the last 20 years. All 419 people would have since become bank owners – the trend in the early 1990s when finance houses were everywhere. After the bubble burst, the crooks regrouped into merchant and commercial banks. Others anticipated the housing loans promised by the Federal Housing Authority and floated mortgage banks. By the time Prof. Chukwuma Soludo came with his banking consolidation in 2005, there were almost 100 commercial banks in this country.

Though it is his prerogative to appoint the next CBN governor, the president needs to be helped in writing this job advertisement, because it is one important position that could make or break the economy. In my view, it is even more important than the job of president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

As I reflected on the state of the nation on that New Year’s Day, I became convinced that the amalgamation was indeed a divine plan. It’s difficult to imagine what the world would look like in 2114. Many things are certain, however: I will not be alive then. Nor will the reader! Perhaps one in a million children to be born this year will be alive then. See the mystery of life? Death ought to have taught everyone that this world is just empty and there is no need for all the struggles for power, wealth or influence.

This post is published with permission from Abusidiqu.com

Sanusi has kept his promise to banish “business as usual”. We have seen the fall of former “bank CEOs of the year”. Assets worth hundreds of billions of naira have been seized from former “amazons of banking”. Unknown to us, the banking industry was just at the tipping point. Soludo and Sanusi were, indeed, radicals with a cause that has brought honour to the banker’s bank. One can now leave his money in any bank and go to sleep. Cashless banking is here.

by Aniebo Nwamu

Were it a job reserved for anyone, I would have expected the president to, this time round, practise what he once preached about transparency in filling vacant positions: the vacancy has to be advertised and applications received from suitable candidates. Then, those who meet the requirements have to face a board of interviewers. And when the best candidate emerges, the president should send him to the National Assembly for final approval.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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