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The next CBN governor

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CBN building

Sir: President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has secured a second term in office and understandably many business minded people are not excited or even slightly pleased. The mood of the nation economically is dour and placid. Many people who supported the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambitions did so not because they genuinely thought he was a good presidential candidate but simply because they felt Buhari’s first term was an economic disaster.

The dust of politics is now settling and we must focus on the nexus of all political purpose, which is a better Nigerian economy not just for the politically connected to extract wealth but for the general population to grow. Inclusively, aggressive economic progress and growth is mandatory if Nigeria is to witness any tangible improvements in living standards. The Federal Government’s focus on infrastructure projects and security must simultaneously address the most acute problem in the Nigerian economy which is a failed credit system.

We Nigerians must pick battles that we feel will bring this economic progress then fight them one after another. In my humble opinion, the first and probably most important battle due to be fought is of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governorship due for imminent appointment.

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More than any other sector, a vibrant credit market, is the most crucial in any economy; and the pilot of the Nigerian credit market is the CBN governor. Every well-meaning Nigerian should bring to bear their voice and influence to request that the CBN governor must pledge to achieve single digit interest rates in the commercial lending market within 24 months and he or she must state how.

Nigeria can never develop with commercial interest rates hovering close to 30 per cent per annum and we need a CBN governor that identifies this as one of his topmost priorities. Neither all the Federal Government funded infrastructure projects in the world nor all the CBN intervention programmes proposed or implemented will foster genuine growth without a robust and dynamic credit market.

The Nigerian Credit market fosters a system that allows the wealthy to feed off the Nigerian government via the Credit Market and simultaneously prevents ordinary Nigerians from ever being able to grow using the same credit market. This must stop and stop urgently too! Even worse is the fact that the past few CBN governors are part of and have continued to breed generations of bankers in Nigeria that have grown through this unproductive system and it is all they know.

Replacing the current CBN governor with another former commercial bank managing director as is the current norm is likely to recycle the current problems and further entrench our failed credit market. President Buhari must search far and wide, high and low for a new breed of CBN governor. He must appoint a CBN governor that can and will revitalise the Nigerian Credit Market and make it work for Nigerian growth and development not just rent seeking by some elite. He must break the cycle of appointing former commercial bank MDs only for their former banks to ‘coincidentally’ grow astronomically during the new regime.

Buhari must pick an excellent and globally renowned economist with the skill to navigate us out of this current mess and the intelligence and experience to keep us safe while doing so.  My hope is that such a Nigerian does exist somewhere in the world. However, if no such Nigerian currently exists, then Buhari should not hesitate to use a foreigner to lead us out of the woods while Nigerians understudy and deputise. We will not be the first or only country to leverage on foreign expertise to solve a critical challenge.
• Gbemi Akin-Olugbade.

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