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Disquiet in CBN as Cardoso retires ‘Emefiele’s directors’

Barring any last minute changes, at least eight directors at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would be served early retirement letters from the apex…

Barring any last minute changes, at least eight directors at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would be served early retirement letters from the apex bank this week. These directors, some of  whom were initially redeployed to an arm of the bank, FSS 2020 under the Governor’s Directorate, whose office is located in the Maitama District of Abuja since 24th November 2023, and kept in a sort of pool to await “further directives”, are being asked to exit the CBN.

Knowledgeable sources within the bank indicate that some had already been served the disengagement letters since Friday, 15th March, 2024, but could not state clearly under what terms were those affected disengaged. “We don’t know whether they were given early retirement or their appointments were terminated outright”, said one of our sources.

Similarly, our sources could not confirm if those being served early retirement letters have been found guilty of any offences. The main reason for the sack of the affected officials, according to most of our sources, was “because they had worked very closely with the immediate past governor of the bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele”.

The news of this planned sack has been widespread since Thursday last week. The decision, which is still being treated with confidentiality from the media, has raised great concern amongst staff of the CBN, who fear that it could be a prelude to more layoffs by the current management of the banking regulator.

Prior to this latest development, the apex bank had relocated no fewer than 150 staff of the Banking Supervision Department (BSD), which is one of the 29 departments of the bank to Lagos. The BSD is under the Financial System Stability Directorate of the CBN.

The relocation saga, it would be recalled, had generated heated controversy across the country, with many people of northern extraction alleging that it was an attempt to dislodge staff who are northerners from the institution.

But the CBN rebuffed those insinuations, insisting that it was part of a proper reorganisation of the bank, to ensure that the regular onsite examination of the 24 banks in the country were diligently carried out, since most of those national and regional banks are headquartered in Lagos. It also adduced as part of the reason for the relocation, the desire to de-congest the corporate headquarters of the bank.

It was widely alleged that many politicians had abused their privileges during the Buhari Administration to secure appointments for their children and relations in the CBN, resulting in redundancies, with many staff loitering in the headquarters of the bank since they had neither office accommodation nor chairs and desks on which to work.

Meanwhile, Daily Trust gathered from different sources over the weekend that some of the directors affected in the latest action of the current management of the CBN have threatened to challenge the decision, while others have said they will accept the sack as the CBN has become a ‘poisonous working environment.’

Speaking to Daily Trust, one of the affected directors who pleaded anonymity said: “We thank God for the time we spent, and the impact that we have made. I will not challenge it. Once my letter is handed to me tomorrow (today) I will gladly take a walk. Life goes on.”

Also, there are insinuations that the CBN governor is considering outsiders to replace some of the sacked directors, and one of the persons allegedly penciled down to take over as Director of Security is retired Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Hakeem Odumosu, who was one time commissioner of police in Lagos State. T

Some of the staff who spoke with our reporter accused the current leadership of the CBN of  harbouring “a vindictive mindset” to punish all personnel that were quite close to Emefiele, while he held sway as chief executive of the bank.

How the move was hatched

Daily Trust gathered that the governor, upon assumption of office, immediately wanted to sack all the directors identified to be “quite close” to Emefiele.

However, that move was halted when he was advised against such action because those officers were not political appointees. “So, they could not be sacked at will, as was the case of the Acting Governor, Mr. Folashodun Shonubi, and all his deputies”, one of our sources said.

Sources disclosed further that since the new CBN governor could not sack the directors outright, he decided to transfer virtually all of them out of the headquarters in November 2023.

The FSS 2020 is often seen as a less prestigious posting within the CBN, and the redeployment of the eight directors has been likened to being sent to “Siberia.”

Among the directors transferred to the FSS 2020 on the 24th of November last year were Samuel Chukwuyem Okojere; Abdulmumin Abdulsalam Isa, PhD; Dr. Elizabeth AMos Kwaghe; Dr. Maureen Omolola Chukwurah; Mr. Arinze Stanley; while Mr. Philip Yila Yusuf was moved to that office since 26th October, 2023.

Daily Trust investigation revealed that in the latest transfers done by Cardoso, Dr. Mahmoud Hassan, formerly of the Monetary Policy Department, now heads the Trade and Exchange Department, and the former Director of Human Resources, who has been moved to Capacity Development.

Under Yila’s leadership, according to our sources, the Development Finance Department (DFD), which he held before his redeployment, played a crucial role in supporting businesses through increased access to finance for priority sectors under a variety of programmes such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), the Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) and disbursement to households and small businesses during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, to cushion the impact of the consequent lockdown.

The current CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, has criticised these quasi-fiscal policies of his predecessor, Mr. Emefiele, saying that they resulted in N10 trillion being pumped into the economy through intervention programmes, an action he said was responsible for large money supply in the economy.

Questions over appropriateness of deployment to FSS

Some highly placed staff of the CBN have questioned the rationale behind the deployment of highly technical staff to a secretariat where they became redundant. There were also concerns about the replacement of personalities with the relevant competences and capacities with others who do not necessarily posses the cognate experiences to oversee the departments they have been redeployed to.

For instance, Dr. Maureen Omolola Chukwurah is a patient-oriented and resourceful medical executive with over 20 years of experience in developing and managing clinical staff. She is a physician with a solid academic background in General Medicine and specialty in Cardiology, according to our sources.

She spearheaded the setting up and accreditation of the CBN Isolation Centre and Molecular Laboratory and coordinated the management of all COVID-19 cases in the bank during the pandemic. Due to her efforts during this period, she received a management commendation letter for outstanding services during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the CBN.

In 2021, she became the Deputy Director, Preventative and Support Services Division, a position she held until she became the Director of the Medical Services Department in June 2023. On November 24, 2023, she was redeployed to the FSS 2020 Secretariat.

Also, Mr. Samuel Okojere was redeployed to the FSS 2020 Secretariat in November 2023. He was the Director of the Banking Services Department at the Central Bank of Nigeria,

Mr. Okojere has played significant roles in the establishment of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM). He initiated the creation of the Infrastructure Finance Office, and Payment Systems Management Department in the Central Bank of Nigeria, among other laudable initiatives.

According to a senior insider, an almost retiring statistician with no cognate experience in Monetary Policy was assigned to the MPD.

“Dr Omolara Duke, who had been widely celebrated for repositioning the research department was moved to financial markets department and replaced by Mrs. Aderinola Shonekan, in a move that alarmed many staff members”, one of our sources said.

“Dr Adu,  a medical doctor was removed from medicals and posted to capacity development department as administrator whereas Musa Jimoh, the bank’s payment system ‘whizkid’ was sent to the same department as a Director.”

More staff to relocate to Lagos

Daily Trust reliably learnt that nearly 100 staff of the Financial Policy Regulation Department under the Financial System Stability Directorate have also been placed on notice that they will be relocating to Lagos by 29th April, 2024.

CBN mum over action

When Daily Trust reached out to the Acting Head Corporate Communication of the CBN, Mrs Hakama Sidi-Ali on the alleged sack of the directors, and to confirm the rationale deployed by the management in taking the action, she neither answered repeated calls to her cell phone nor responded to series of messages sent to her by sms and WhatsApp.

Meanwhile, none of those affected by the latest action agreed to speak to our reporter on record.

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