from Africa in Transition

Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor to Stay

January 17, 2014

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According to the Nigerian media on January 9, an angry President Goodluck Jonathan asked the governor of the Central Bank, Lamido Sanusi, to resign immediately. Sanusi’s term is up in June, and he has long said he would not seek another term.

The president’s ire was provoked by the leaking of Sanusi’s letter from September 2013, which said that U.S. $49.8 billion in oil revenue had not been remitted to the Central Bank as required more than a year ago. Sanusi reportedly refused the president’s request and observed that he could be removed from office only by a vote of two-thirds of the Senate. Sanusi also denied leaking the letter.

Sanusi now also says that, after being provided with further information, the amount not remitted was $10.8 billion, not $49.8 billion.

In his highly critical December 2 letter to President Jonathan, also leaked, former president Olusegun Obasanjo made extensive reference to Sanusi’s letter.

Sanusi is held in high regard by the international investor community. He is credited with cleaning up the Nigerian banking system. Sanusi’s abrupt departure could have an impact on investor confidence. With the recent defections from Jonathan’s ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, it is also unlikely that the president could muster a two-thirds vote in the Senate for removing Sanusi.

Hence it was no surprise that on January 10, the Nigerian media reported that Jonathan and Sanusi had resolved their dispute. The media is saying that “a number of influential Nigerians” persuaded Jonathan to reconsider his request for Sanusi’s resignation. Sanusi, in turn has said that he will continue to work with the president for the remainder of his term as governor of the Central Bank.

When Jonathan told him to resign, Sanusi reportedly wanted to know why he should go when those responsible for the remittance problem were staying. Other Nigerians will be asking the same question, even if the amount that is missing is $10.8 billion rather than $49.8 billion.