Africa: Nigeria’s top banker wins world award

Nigeria top banker Mallam Lamido Aminu Sanusi By Nangayi Guyson – Despite Nigeria  frequently cited as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, its central banker Mallam Lamido Aminu Sanusi has won two international banking awards.

Mallam Lamido Aminu Sanusi 49-year-old who  appointed head of the Bank of Nigeria in June 2009.has been named as the Central Bank Governor of 2010 for both the African continent and the entire world, by the prestigious Banker Magazine.

The editor of the magazine, Brian Caplen, says that few candidate names generate an overall consensus on judging panels, and yet, when it came to finding the best global central bank governor of the year, Mr Sanusi was chosen unanimously.

He has been praised for salvaging a crumbling Nigerian financial sector, including implementing reforms that have put Africa’s most promising market back on the map for global investors.

The magazine’s country representative, Kunle Ogedengbe, stresses that Mr Sanusi embarked on a radical anti-corruption campaign aimed at saving 24 banks on the brink of collapse.

He also pressed for the managers involved in the most blatant cases of corruption to be charged, and, in the case of two senior bankers, convicted.

“The reforms initiated by Mr Sanusi have been necessary to sanitise the banking industry,” Mr Ogedengbe says.

“Had these reforms not been initiated, Nigeria would have entered into another round of banking distress.”

Despite the political challenge of facing up to powerful people who held considerable sway in the country, Mr Sanusi never swerved from his approach, and won the support of the public as they were made aware of the scale of corruption.

Coming from the north, Mr Sanusi bucked the established trend of appointing southerners

“He has carried out the sort of reforms that most of the central bankers in the world would like to have carried out in their territories,” Lagos journalist Anthony Osae-Brown told BBC World Service’s World Business News.

Two months into his governorship, Mr Sanusi embarked on the bailout of Afribank, Intercontinental Bank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank.

He dismissed their chief executives in a move designed to show that banking is no longer business as usual, but institutions that must serve the economy as a whole.

Another key reform of the banking sector enforced by Mr Sanusi has been to limit the tenure of bank bosses to a maximum of 10 years.

The chief executives will have to leave office at the end of their term regardless of their record.

The implementation of a stricter disclosure policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria has also led to a culture of greater transparency in the sector.