20 February 2014, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The shock decision, announced in a statement Thursday morning by Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, caused the naira to fall more than 1 percent against the dollar, according to Reuters.
The statement read: “Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterised by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline;
“Being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate; and
“Being determined to urgently re-position the Central Bank of Nigeria for greater efficiency, respect for due process and accountability, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has ordered the immediate suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria”.
The president directed that the most Senior Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr Sarah Alade, “will serve as Acting Governor until the conclusion of on-going investigations into breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate of the CBN”.
According to the statement, President Jonathan expects that as Acting Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Alade will focus on the core mandate of the Bank and conduct its affairs with greater professionalism, prudence and propriety to restore domestic and international confidence in the country’s apex bank.
The statement reassured all stakeholders in Nigeria’s financial and monetary system that this decision has been taken in absolute good faith, in the overall interest of the Nigerian economy and in accordance with our laws and due process.
Reuters reports that Sanusi, who was due to end his term in June, had been an increasingly outspoken critic of Jonathan’s government and its record on tackling endemic corruption in Africa’s biggest oil producer.
Following are analysts’ reactions:
RAZIA KHAN, HEAD OF AFRICA RESEARCH, STANDARD CHARTERED
“The nature of the suspension will come as a significant shock to foreign portfolio investors, whose willingness to invest in Nigeria was very much influenced by the transparency and anti-inflation credibility associated with Sanusi’s policies.
“This will be a significant negative for the Nigerian naira and Nigerian financial markets. Investors will pay attention to whichever successor is announced, but this is unlikely to sit comfortably.”
SAMIR GADIO, EMERGING MARKET STRATEGIST, STANDARD BANK
“This is a disruptive move which indicates that the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) has de facto lost much of its independence.
“Clearly it is driven by political motives given Sanusi’s vocal criticism of oil revenue leakages and the opaque fiscal system in Nigeria.
“If anything, this development will compound upside risks to USD/NGN by precipitating the foreign exit and a negative domestic positioning against the naira.
“Foreign investors are likely to be active sellers of Nigerian assets in coming days subject to market liquidity constraints.”