President TInubu has appointed Yemi Cardoso as the next CBN Governor of Nigeria. Cardoso’s political affiliation raises questions about the independence of the CBN.
Yesterday, President Bola Tinubu nounhas appointed Yemi Cardoso as head of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Cardoso will be the 11th governor of the CBN if he is successfully confirmed by the Senate. He will succeed Godwin Emefiele, whose suspension and dramatic deletion still raise legal questions. The appointment of the 66-year-old banker will reignite the debate over whether bankers or economists are better central bank governors. Although Cardoso is a banker – he was chairman of Citibank – some of Nigeria’s most famous CBN governors are economists.
The main test for Nigeria’s next CBN governor is price stability. In six years, the CBN has failed to control inflation, with last month’s inflation figures reaching an 18-year high. Godwin Emefiele suggested that greedy middlemen were behind the high prices. His tenure as governor was marked by increased lending to the Federal Government, CBN-funded agricultural programs and artificially fixed exchange rates.
Many of the policies Emefiele followed when he was governor appeared to have the assent of President Buhari, calling into question the independence of the bank. Emefiele was also criticized for his short-lived attempt to run for president while serving as CBN governor. Observers have similar concerns about his successor, Cardoso.
A CBN-supporting governor?
In 2015, Cardoso was one of three names considered for Muhammadu Buhari’s vice president. “I was asked to submit three names, Yemi Cardoso, Wale Edun and Yemi Osinbajo, but I told them if I submitted three names, they would play a game, they could make four and choose the fourth. I gave them a name and it was Osinbajo, “Tinubu explain in view of the 2023 elections.
The new CBN governor is a long-time associate of Tinubu; he was appointed Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in 1999, but did not complete his term as commissioner as he won the Michael Romer Memorial Scholarship. Some political pundits claimed that Cardoso would have been appointed deputy governor of Lagos after the departure of Senator Bucknor Akerele if he had not accepted the scholarship. Instead, Femi Pedro became deputy governor.
Despite issues of partisanship, Cardoso’s accomplished career with Citibank and Citizens International Bank as well as his academic and professional achievements give hope that he can become a good CBN governor. But like Wale Edun, who was appointed finance minister, he may have to shake off claims that his appointment is a continuation of Tinubu’s emerging trend of placing his former allies in strategic teams.
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