Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL)
4, Oyo Street, Area 2, Garki, Abuja.
14th March, 2014.
His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan,
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN
Your Excellency Sir,
REJECTION OF THE NOMINATION OF MR GODWIN EMEFIELE AS GOVERNOR OF THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA
We write as concerned citizens to express our reservations over your nomination of Mr Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. It is our candid view that Mr. Emefiele is not a fit and proper nominee for the position of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Until his appointment, Mr Emefiele was the Managing Director of Zenith Bank PLC. He presided over a deposit bank that competed with other deposit banks. It is our view that he should not be appointed a Regulator over competing rival banks. The rivalry that exists between Chief Executives of deposit banks will adversely affect the restructuring regulatory frameworks of the financial sector and deepen poor corporate governance practices.
Some may argue, dishonestly, that previous Governors of the Central Bank were appointed from deposit banks. Yes, Paul Ogwuma, Joseph Sanusi and Lamido Sanusi came from Union Bank and First Bank respectively. We must, however, point out that at the time of the appointments of Paul Ogwuma and Joseph Sanusi their banks were wholly owned by the Federal Government. Sanusi Lamido was appointed at a time that First Bank had gone public, with no single individual or institution having controlling shares. Same cannot be expressed for Zenith Bank PLC, with Mr Jim Ovia as the dominant shareholder and Mr Emefiele as its Managing Director.
Recall Your Excellency that Zenith Bank PLC was fingered in 2008 by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in the criminal diversion of N3.6b from the coffers of Rivers state government. Mr Jim Ovia, then Managing Director, was arrested and detained whilst Mr Emefiele was a top executive. Emefiele is a product of a corrupt corporate governance environment.
Sir, the Central Bank of Nigeria as the apex regulatory institution must be protected from every influence, perceived or real, to secure its independence and to save it from the kind of injury that it would suffer as a result of a possible appointment of Emefiele. It will not command the confidence of competitor Chief Executives of deposit banks and other financial investors. Therefore, we respectfully urge you to withdraw his nomination and substitute him with any person of your choice (you may consider gender equity as no woman has ever been appointed CBN Governor), who is sufficiently independent of rival competitor bankers and other hideous interests.
Finally, while it is not our intention to circumscribe your powers of nomination and appointment, it is our view that the health of our national economy and our monetary policy environment will best be protected if the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is appointed from within the Central Bank, the Academia, or the Public Sector.
Please, kindly accept the assurances of our highest regards.
Abdul Mahmud, ESQ Peter Uwabuike
President Publicity Secretary