The article explores past Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governors, who have played instrumental roles in shaping the nation’s monetary policies and financial landscape.
From the late Roy Pentelow Fenton, the first foreign Governor who served from July 24, 1958, to July 24, 1963, to the distinguished leaders who succeeded him, each Governor has left a distinctive mark.
Among them, notable names emerge, including those who served for multiple terms, such as the longest-serving Governor, Abdulkadir Ahmed, who held office from 1982 to 1993.
From Chief Clement Isong and Dr. Joseph Sanusi to Professors Chukwuma Soludo and Godwin Emefiele, this journey unveils the fascinating legacies of these influential individuals and their impact on Nigeria’s economic growth and financial stability.
(Late) Mallam Aliyu Mai Bornu 7/25/1963 – 6/22/1967 (4 years)
Mallam Aliyu Mai Bornu, born in 1919, pursued his education and became an English Language Teacher after graduating from Kaduna College in 1942. He taught at Yola Middle School and later at Kaduna College. In 1954, he studied Economics at Bristol University after serving as a House Tutor at the Veterinary School in Vom.
After completing his studies in 1957, he joined the Northern Nigeria Public Service as an Administrative Officer. In 1959, he was seconded to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as an Assistant Secretary and progressed to become the Deputy Secretary, Secretary, and ultimately the first indigenous Governor of the Bank in 1963.
He retired from the CBN in 1967 and took up a role as the Director and General Manager of the Nigerian Tobacco Company.
Despite resigning from the Nigerian Tobacco Company in 1969, Mallam Mai Bornu remained a member of the Board of Directors until his passing on February 23, 1970.
(Late)Dr. Clement Nyong Isong Served From: 8/15/1967 – 9/22/1975 (8 years)
Chief (Dr.) Clement Nyong Isong, born on April 20, 1920, in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, began his education at Qua Iboe Primary School.
He completed his primary education in Oron and later attended the Oron Training Institute. In 1950, he pursued a diploma in Education at the University College, Ibadan.
With scholarships from the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller, Isong studied Economics at Iowa Wesleyan College, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 1954. He continued his studies at the Howard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, earning his Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Economics.
After working briefly at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, he returned to the University of Ibadan as a lecturer.
In 1958, Isong joined the newly established Central Bank of Nigeria as Secretary and later became the Director of Research. He served at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the United States from 1962 to 1967.
During the Civil War, he was appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank, guiding the transition to the Nigerian Naira. He retired from the Bank in 1975 and was elected as the first Governor of Cross River State in 1979.
In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Isong was honored with the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) national award in 1982.
(Late)Mallam Adamu Ciroma Served From: 9/24/1975 – 6/28/1977 (2 years)
Mallam Adamu Ciroma, born on November 20, 1934, in Potiskum, Yobe State, was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 1975 to 1977.
He completed his primary education at Borno Middle School in Maiduguri in 1949 and pursued his secondary education at Barewa College in Zaria starting in 1950. After obtaining his A Levels in 1957, he attended the University of Ibadan and earned a Bachelor’s degree in History.
Throughout his career, Mallam Ciroma held various positions in the Public Service. He joined the Board of the Central Bank in 1970 as a Director and later became the Governor in 1976.
He also served as a Minister in the Ministries of Industry, Agriculture, and Finance, and sat on the Board of several companies.
(Late) Mr. O. O. Vincent Served From: 6/28/1977 – 6/28/1982 (5 years)
Mr. Ola Vincent, a highly respected elder statesman, served as the Governor of the Central Bank from 1977 to 1982.
His insightful perspectives on national matters held significant importance. Prior to his tenure at the Central Bank, he was appointed as a Vice President at the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire from 1966 to 1973.
Mr. Vincent held the distinction of being a life member of the Nigerian Economic Society and the Society for International Development. Additionally, he supported charitable organizations such as the Red Cross Society and the Nigerian Society for the Blind.
He was married and had children.
(Late)Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed Served From: 6/28/1982 – 9/30/1993 (11 years)
Abdulkadir Ahmed, born on October 31, 1940, in Jama’are, Bauchi State, had his early education in Jama’are and Bauchi before attending Barewa College Zaria in 1955.
He graduated from South West London College in 1972 after studying at Nigeria College (University of Ife) in 1961.
Ahmed began his career at the New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) in January 1960, serving in various roles across the group’s subsidiaries and associate companies.
He later became Bauchi State’s first Commissioner of Finance from March 1976 to June 1977 before being appointed Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
On June 27, 1982, he assumed the position of Governor of the Bank and retired on September 30, 1993.
Alhaji Ahmed was a fellow of the Institute of Chartered and Certified Accountants (FCCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FAC).
Abdulkadir Ahmed is notable for being the longest-serving Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Dr. Paul A. Ogwuma, OFR Retired as Governor – Served in the CBN from 10/1/1993 To 5/29/1999 (6 years)
Dr. Paul Agbai Ogwuma, born on April 24, 1932, in Abayi, Imo State, had his early education at St. Barnabas School, Thie, St. Michael’s School, Aba, and St. Gregory’s School, Mbusi.
He continued his studies at New Bethel College in Onitsha and Bradford Institute of Technology. From 1959 to 1962, he pursued further education at Bradford University in the United Kingdom.
With a distinguished career as a seasoned banker, Chartered Accountant, and Administrator, Dr. Ogwuma has held various positions in organizations both in the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
He served as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank of Nigeria before being appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in September 1993.
Chief (Dr.) J. O. Sanusi, CON Retired as Governor – Served in the CBN from 5/29/1999 To 5/29/2004 (5 years)
Chief (Dr.) Joseph Oladele Sanusi (CON) was born on September 24, 1938, in Ogbagi-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. He studied at South-West London College and Kingston College of Technology in England, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant.
He became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in 1969 and a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Bankers in 1987.
Chief Sanusi began his career as an Accountant in England and later worked with the Board of Customs and Excise in Nigeria.
He joined the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 1966 as a Deputy Manager and steadily rose through the ranks, serving as a Departmental Director, the first Chief Executive of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Executive Director of Monetary and Banking Policy, and Deputy Governor of the CBN.
He is one of the few CBN Governors who rose through the ranks at the bank to become Governor.
He held leadership positions at United Bank for Africa and First Bank of Nigeria, two major Nigerian banks.
His accomplishments have been recognized with honors such as Banker Extra Ordinary by the University of Ibadan, Man of Achievement by Corporate Press Services Ltd., and Doctor of Science – Honoris Causa by the Federal Universities of Technology, Akure, and Yola.
Prof. Chukwuma C. Soludo, CFR Retired as Governor – Served in the CBN from 5/29/2004 To 5/29/2009 (5 years)
Professor Chukwuma C. Soludo, born on July 28, 1960, is an accomplished economist and public servant. He holds a first-class degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as well as post-graduate and doctoral degrees from the same institution.
With extensive training and experience, Professor Soludo has worked as a consultant for renowned institutions such as the World Bank, United Nations, European Union, and African Development Bank. He has also taught and conducted research in various areas of economics.
In his role as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from May 2004, Professor Soludo implemented significant reforms that led to the consolidation and growth of the Nigerian banking system. He also championed initiatives such as the establishment of the Africa Finance Corporation and the Financial System Strategy 2020 to position Nigeria as a leading financial hub in Africa.
Professor Soludo has received numerous awards and recognition for his contributions, including being named the Global and African Central Bank Governor of the Year by various international media institutions.
He was elected Governor of Anambra state in 2021 and sworn in March 17 2022.
Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (CON) Served From: 6/3/2009 – 6/2/2014 (5 years)
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, born on July 31, 1961, in Kano, Nigeria, is a renowned economist and banking professional.
He holds degrees in Economics and Islamic Law from Ahmadu Bello University and the International University of Africa. Starting his career in teaching, he transitioned to banking, working with Icon Limited, United Bank for Africa, and First Bank of Nigeria.
Sanusi excelled in the field of Risk Management, holding the position of Chief Risk Officer in both UBA and FBN. He became the Group Managing Director/CEO of First Bank, the largest bank in Nigeria, in 2009. Subsequently, in June 2009, he was appointed as the 10th Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
During his tenure as Governor, Sanusi faced the challenge of a global financial crisis and a banking system on the verge of collapse. He implemented comprehensive reforms to address issues of poor corporate governance, risk management practices, management fraud, insider abuses, and weak regulation supervision and enforcement.
Godwin Emefiele (CON) Served From 6/3/2024 – 6/9/2023 (9 years)
Godwin Emefiele is a Nigerian economist, banker, and politician who served as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from 2014 to 2023. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in Nigeria’s economic and financial sector.
Emefiele was born on August 4, 1961 in Lagos State, Nigeria. He is a native of Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Banking and Finance in 1984 and a Master’s degree in Finance in 1986 from UNN. He also earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the same university.
Emefiele began his career as a lecturer in finance and insurance at UNN and the University of Port Harcourt. He later joined Zenith Bank Plc, one of the leading banks in Nigeria, where he rose through the ranks to become the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.
In 2014, Emefiele was appointed as the governor of the CBN by President Goodluck Jonathan. He was reappointed for a second term by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
As the CBN governor, he oversaw a largely controversial central bank implementing various policies and initiatives to stabilize the Nigerian currency, boost foreign exchange reserves, support economic growth, enhance financial inclusion, promote agricultural development, and reduce inflation.
He also introduced a multiple exchange rate regime to manage the demand and supply of foreign currency in the country.
During his time, the exchange rate disparity between the black market and the official market was as high as N300. Inflation also rose to 22.22%.
Emefiele was suspended from office by President Bola Tinubu in 2023, following investigations into operations at the bank