LAGOS, March 4 – The head of Nigeria’s central bank is likely to exit in June and would take leave from this month before stepping down at the end of his five-year term, a move that could alter the path for interest rates and the currency, sources said on Monday.
Godwin Emefiele has kept interest rates high at 14 percent for over two years to tighten liquidity and support the naira after a crisis forced the central bank to devalued the currency. The bank has since introduced multiple exchange rates to prop up the naira.
It was not clear when Emefiele’s replacement would be appointed but central bank governors in Nigeria typically go on a 3-month leave before the end of their tenures. The central bank declined to comment.
Muhammadu Buhari secured a second term in office as Nigerian president in last month’s election that was closely-fought on the economy, recovering after it entered into recession in 2016.
Several candidates have been touted to replace Emefiele. Among them is the head of Nigeria’s “bad bank” AMCON, Ahmed Kuru, who led the sale of the country’s nationalised banks, sources say. Also Aisha Mohammed, deputy governor of the apex bank is in the running.
Whoever succeeds Emefiele would be expected to continue to keep the naira stable to attract foreign investors, a policy which Buhari has backed.
Foreign investors have been buying Nigerian bonds over the past six months owing to the stable currency and as tight liquidity keep yields attractive, as high as 15 percent. (Reporting by Paul Carsten, Didi Akinyelure, Alexis Akwagyiram Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Janet Lawrence)