Harvard Graduate Gets Nod to Be Nigeria’s Next Central Bank Head

(Bloomberg) -- Nigerian President Bola Tinubu nominated Olayemi Michael Cardoso, a Harvard graduate and former Citibank executive, to be the next governor of the nation’s central bank.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Cordoso’s appointment to the five-year term will require confirmation by the Senate, the presidency said in a statement on Friday. Another four people were nominated as deputy governors.

“The president expects the above listed nominees to successfully implement critical reforms at the Central Bank of Nigeria, which will enhance the confidence of Nigerians and international partners in the restructuring of the Nigerian economy toward sustainable growth and prosperity for all,” the presidency said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria hasn’t had a permanent head since June 9, when Governor Godwin Emefiele was suspended by the president and soon after taken into custody by the secret police. Folashodun Shonubi, a deputy governor in charge of operations at the bank, was appointed to lead in an acting capacity.

Weeks after suspending Emefiele, Tinubu, who took up his post in May and criticized the central bank in his inaugural speech, appointed a special investigator to examine the monetary authority’s operations.

Cardoso is a former chairman of Citibank Nigeria Ltd., according to the central bank’s website, and also served as a commissioner of economic planning in Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos. He has a masters degree in public administration from Harvard University and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, according to the website of FBC Financial Services.

Cardoso’s range of experience “suggests that he would be more amenable to initiating policies that would help the government meet its set targets,” Lagos-based Cardinal Stone Research said by email. “The appointment puts an end to the uncertainties regarding the leadership at the apex bank,” the research firm said.

Currency Reforms

The four nominees for deputy governors are Emem Nnana Usoro, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor and Dala Bello, the presidency said.

Under Emefiele the central bank maintained a multiple exchange rate system dominated by a tightly controlled official rate, cutting off access to many businesses and individuals, which in turn drove demand to a parallel market. This meant anyone buying dollars on the official market could make a profit by selling currency on the unauthorized market.

Tinubu has since reorganized the exchange rate system as part of a series of reforms to galvanize one of Africa’s biggest economies, including abolishing costly gasoline subsidies.

Emefiele is facing charges of fraud and remains in custody.

--With assistance from Emele Onu.

(Updates with comment in the seventh paragraph)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.