The appointment of the acting governor comes after the suspension and arrest of his powerful predecessor, Godwin Mfiele, over the weekend.
Abuja, Nigeria – Over the weekend, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced the appointment of Folashodun Shonubi as the Interim Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Shonubi’s appointment followed the suspension and arrest of former governor Godwin Mfiele by the secret police, citing “ongoing investigations into his office and planned reforms in the banking sector”.
Nigerian Eurobonds are bullish as investors and analysts see Mfiele’s suspension and Shonubi’s appointment as interim governor as a reset towards a more traditional economic path under Bola Tinubu who was inaugurated as Nigeria’s president on May 29.
Emefiele, who has launched an unprecedented run for the presidency in 2022, headed the bank for almost a decade and his tenure pushed towards partisan politics in favor of Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari. First appointed to office in 2014, he was the first central bank governor to serve multiple terms since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
A banking titan
Until his elevation to the position of Governor of the Central Bank, Shonubi was Mfiele’s deputy and was in charge of the institution’s operations. He also represented Mfiele as a member of the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service – a role he held since December 2019.
The 61-year-old has had an illustrious career in Nigerian banking with a combined experience of over three decades in the banking and engineering sectors.
Shonubi holds three degrees, including two master’s degrees – in business administration and mechanical engineering – from the University of Lagos.
He began his career in engineering, but shifted to the financial industry in the mid-1980s.
He had a three-year stint at Citibank Nigeria Limited in the 90s, holding the position of Head of Treasury Operations and worked at several Nigerian commercial banks including First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Ecobank Nigeria Plc and Union Bank. Nigeria Limited.
Between 2012-2018, he headed the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc – which controls the infrastructure for inter-bank payments – from where he joined the CBN.
Another political web
The appointment of the new bank chief has been heralded by many in the business community as another decisive move by Tinubu, who has also slashed controversial fuel subsidies, signed a new law to boost power generation and introduced a student loan scheme among his first 15. Day as President.
On the campaign trail, Tinubu also criticized the CBN’s bogus cash swap policy that had led to cash shortages and frustration among the people ahead of the presidential election in February.
But for Ikemesit Effiong, head of research at Lagos-based SBM Intelligence, Shonubi’s appointment could signal the president’s intention to influence policy more subtly.
“Given how Mfiele has demonstrated the power and remote role the central bank can play in setting the country’s economic agenda, the president wants the bank to be run by someone who is simultaneously seen as flexible to his agenda and low profile. doesn’t embrace the spotlight,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Emifile, at times, seemed larger than life in his role. Shonubi is set up to be a different kind of governor,” added Effiong.
A bank official told Al Jazeera anonymously that Shonubi was at loggerheads with Emefil and was vocally opposed to the former governor’s agenda within the bank. The position, the official said, was seen as attractive to the president who wanted to rebuild the economy and stabilize the exchange rate.
President Tinubu bypassed three other deputy governors who overtook Shonubi but appeared to be aligned with Imefill’s ideas, according to three different sources including inside the presidency, drawing Shonubi into a political net before his first decision as governor.