Nigeria’s upper house of parliament approved President Goodluck Jonathan’s nomination of Godwin Emefiele as the country’s next central bank governor.
The Senate confirmed Emefiele, the 52-year-old chief executive officer of Zenith Bank Plc, at a hearing today in the capital, Abuja. He will take up his post in June, replacing Lamido Sanusi, 52, who was suspended by Jonathan last month for “financial recklessness and misconduct.” Sanusi has denied the allegations.
Emefiele will have to steer Africa’s most populous nation through next year’s presidential election amid pressure to boost government spending, support a currency that has declined 2.5 percent versus the dollar this year and keep inflation under control. He also faces the task of convincing investors and the public of the independence of the central bank following Sanusi’s removal.
The Monetary Policy Committee, led by acting Governor Sarah Alade, held its key interest rate at a record 12 percent and increased the cash reserve requirements on private sector deposits to 15 percent from 12 percent yesterday, citing the continued need for a tight monetary stance. It was the first MPC meeting since Sanusi was dismissed.
Sanusi’s suspension came after he alleged that billions of dollars of government oil revenue were unaccounted for. Jonathan’s actions were criticized by investors concerned that the independence of the central bank may be compromised.
A banker with 26 years of experience, Emefiele became the managing director of Zenith Bank, Nigeria’s second-largest lender by assets, in August 2010 after serving as deputy managing director from 2001.
He has an MBA degree from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka and lectured at the University of Port Harcourt, the institution where Jonathan taught before he entered politics.