Amidst the unfolding drama surrounding the resignation of Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, a recent dive into the CBN Act reveals that the President possesses the authority to unilaterally remove deputy governors.
The President would require a two-thirds majority approval from the Senate to dismiss the Central Bank Governor, a stipulation that does not extend to deputy governors.
According to Section 11, subsection 2f of the CBN Act, the President has the authority to remove any deputy governor without consulting the National Assembly.
“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.
President Tinubu recently announced a new slate of nominees for deputy governors—Mrs. Emem Nnana Usoro, Mr. Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, Mr. Philip Ikeazor, and Dr. Bala M. Bello. These nominees await ratification from the Senate and are set to replace outgoing deputy governors Kingsley Obiora, Aishah Ahmad, Ade Shonubi, and Edward L. Adamu.
Despite the presidential nominations, the current deputy governors have not resigned as of Saturday, September 16th. Sources close to the deputies told Naijaonpoint that no formal resignation has been tendered.
While one source stated that the existing deputy governors would continue in their roles until formal notification is received, another reliable source suggested that the incumbents might have been asked to resign, thereby facilitating the President’s new appointments.
The National Assembly recently extended the tenure of some deputy governors, further complicating the issue. Last December, the Senate approved second five-year terms for Aisha Ahmad and Edward Adamu. Dr. Kingsley Obiora, appointed in March 2020, is in the fourth year of his term, while Ade Shonubi’s term is set to expire in October.
Experts indicate that the most likely route for the current deputy governors to exit would be through resignation.
A closer look at the CBN Act reveals that Section 3 allows both the Governor and Deputy Governors of the Central Bank to submit their resignations at least three months in advance, in writing, to the President. Additionally, the Act permits the President to appoint replacements to serve the remaining duration of the term.
This implies that if they choose to resign, a three-month handover period would be needed before the new deputy governors can be sworn in.
According to legal expert Liborous Oshoma, while the CBN Act mandates that the President must seek Senate support to remove the CBN Governor, the same does not apply to the Deputy Governors.
Dr. Ralph Ibekwe, another legal expert, opined,
Legal expert Chike Ukoh also weighed in, stating that the CBN Governor alone is singled out for Senate confirmation for both appointment and removal, while the Deputy Governors do not require Senate confirmation for their removal.