The President's Authority in Appointing and Removing a CBN Governor: A Legal Perspective - The Top Society

The President’s Authority in Appointing and Removing a CBN Governor: A Legal Perspective

By-Blessing Emmanuel


CBN: Recent events in Nigeria’s financial sector have brought to the forefront the question of the President’s authority in appointing and removing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s suspension of Godwin Emefiele as the CBN Governor, the subsequent nomination of a replacement, and the resistance from some incumbent Deputy Governors have raised important legal considerations. It prompts one to question the extent of the President’s authority within the apex bank.

CBN Governor

The CBN Act: Legal Framework

The authority for appointing and removing the CBN Governor and Deputy Governors is governed by the Central Bank of Nigeria Act. Section 8(1) of the Act vests in the President the power to appoint the Governor and four Deputy Governors, subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Senate. These appointees must possess recognized financial experience, a requirement seemingly met by the recent nominees.

Deputy Governors vs. the Governor: A Distinction

A crucial distinction within the CBN Act is the different processes for removing Deputy Governors and the Governor. According to Section 11(f) of the Act, the President can remove Deputy Governors without requiring Senate confirmation.

However, the same Act, in Section 11(2)(f), stipulates that removing the Governor necessitates a two-thirds majority approval from the National Assembly, effectively involving the Senate in the process.

“The removal of the Governor shall be supported by a two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed,” the Act states, leaving the Deputy Governors’ fate largely in the President’s hands.”

Don’t miss out on: Tinubu Nominates Cardoso as CBN Governor, Appoints Four Deputies
The Clash of Powers

The recent clash between President Tinubu and the Senate stems from his nomination of a new Governor and Deputy Governors, while the incumbent leadership, including Ade Shonubi, Kingsley Obiora, Aishah Ahmad, and Edward L. Adamu, have refused to step down. This refusal is based on the extension of their tenures granted by the National Assembly in December 2022.

As per the law, the President can remove Deputy Governors without Senate approval. However, Senate approval is indispensable for the removal of the Governor. The conflict arises due to differing interpretations of whether the incumbent Deputy Governors should continue until formal notification or if they must resign for the President’s new appointments to take effect.

Resignations and Appointments

Section 3 of the CBN Act allows both the Governor and Deputy Governors to submit written resignations to the President with at least three months’ notice. The President, in turn, has the prerogative to appoint replacements to serve the remaining duration of the term.

For example, if Godwin Emefiele indeed resigned in August, he would be required to provide a three-month handover notice. During this period, the newly nominated Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, would serve until the expiration of Emefiele’s remaining term.

Legal Expert Opinions

In his opinion, a legal expert, Chike Ukoh, opined that;

“According to the law, it means the President can remove a Deputy Governor without Senate approval. However, if he wishes to remove the Governor, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is needed to pass a resolution for his removal.”

“In essence, the Governor is the only individual who requires Senate approval for removal. So, when interpreting the law literally, a Deputy Governor can be removed without Senate involvement, but Senate approval is needed to remove the Governor,” Ukoh concluded.

Managing Partner of the law firm Adesokan & Ajayi, Oladiran Ajayi, also gave his perspective saying;

‘’President Bola Tinubu has approved the nomination of Olayemi Cardoso to serve as the new Governor of the CBN. He also nominated four new deputy governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). All nominations are for a term of five (5) years in the first instance and subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Senate.

‘’The question that arises are the appointments lawfully done?

‘’Section 8 (1) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, vests in the President with the authority to appoint the Governor and Four (4) Deputy Governors for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), subject to confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

‘’The only requirement that the Act includes is that they shall be persons of recognised financial experience. This appears to be the case with all the appointments.

‘’One question is whether they can still be appointed in light of the fact that the fate of the erstwhile suspended Governor of the CBN remains unclear?

‘’In respect of the Deputy Governors the question is an easy one. By section 11(f) of the CBN Act, the president has the powers to remove them without any requirement for senate confirmation.

‘“In respect of the Governor however, section 11 lists the only ways he can be removed; and the President can only remove him with confirmation of 2/3 of the Senate. It is unfortunate that the President has not yet followed this process”

The recent developments surrounding the suspension of the CBN Governor and the subsequent nomination of replacements highlight the importance of understanding the legal framework governing these appointments and removals. The Central Bank of Nigeria Act clearly distinguishes between the President’s authority in removing Deputy Governors and the more stringent process required for the removal of the Governor.

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