By Felix Onuah
ABUJA (Reuters) -President Bola Tinubu has nominated the former head of Citibank in Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, to serve as the country’s new central bank governor, days before its next interest rate meeting, a presidential spokesperson said on Friday.
Government sources told Reuters that Godwin Emefiele, who was suspended as central bank chief by Tinubu in June and later detained by state police and charged with procurement fraud, resigned last month, effectively clearing the way for Cardoso to replace him.
Tinubu sent Cardoso’s nomination to the Senate for confirmation alongside four new deputy governors, spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale said.
The central bank did not respond to a request for comment on whether Emefiele and his deputy governors had resigned. Ngelale declined to comment when asked about Emefiele’s resignation.
“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,” Ngelale said in a statement.
The central bank raised rates by a smaller-than-expected 25 basis points in July, contrary to analysts’ expectations, under acting Governor Folashondun Shonubi, one of Emefiele’s deputies.
The bank is due to set rates again on Sept. 26 and some analysts expect a more hawkish stance.
Tinubu had promised a “thorough house cleaning” of monetary policy, during his inauguration in May and said that the central bank should work towards lower interest rates after criticising Emefiele’s handling of the currency.
The central bank pursued unorthodox policies under Emefiele who kept the currency artificially strong, a policy backed by former President Muhammadu Buhari, which supported government borrowings on the international markets.
Nigeria’s new government wants to encourage investments rather than rely on borrowing to create jobs as it tries to revive an economy struggling with record debt, a weak currency, double-digit inflation and fragile power supplies.
Cardoso was part of the team that had been working on an economic blueprint for the new government. He was a former commissioner for economic planning and budget in Lagos state when Tinubu was governor between 1999-2007.
(Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Richard Chang, Jane Merriman and Hugh Lawson)