By Eric Elezuo
“I was lucky to have very early positive and visible role models of women working outside the home and making a big difference in their careers. One of my grandmothers created a distinguished career in the nursing field, being one of the early recipients of an international education, and I have many aunties who are doing great things in their various businesses and careers. I must credit my mother for inspiring my strong work ethic. She’s been successful at diverse careers in pharmacology, accounting and as a business woman, including managing a family.”
Those are the exact words of the newest Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad, the 39 years old wife of retired Army General, Abdallah Ahmad.
Like she mentioned, the young mother of two, who was appointment to the exalted position, may have been a very lucky woman, considering the horizontal and spontaneous rise in her career, but stakeholders and industry watchers are wondering if this particular appointment is this one of those luck inspired stories, or are there more to the appointment than meet the eyes.
It must be understood that not just anybody can become the deputy governor of the CBN. Anybody worthy of consideration must have made the position of the Executive Director of his bank, and for a definite period of time, but the case of Aishah is a classical difference.
Prior to her shocking appointment, Mrs. Ahmad was the Deputy General Manager, Retail, Diamond Bank, and out of the blues was elevated to the office of the Executive Director of Diamond Bank on Wednesday, October 4. The celebration for the rise had hardly commenced when she was announced as the Deputy Governor of the CBN, prompting not a few to smell a rat.
Yes, she may have been inspired by a generation of successful women leaders, like her ‘birthday mate’, former United States First Lady and ex-presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, according to her, but the speed with which two strong appointments came in quick succession has raised more questions than answers.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday October 5, 2017, transmitted a letter to the Senate announcing Ahmad’s appointment, just a few hours after she was made executive Director.
According to a statement by the president’s special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, “In accordance with the provisions of Section 8(1) (2) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) Act 2007, President Buhari urged the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to consider the expeditious confirmation of Mrs. Ahmad, who would then resume work immediately.”
However, in defence of Ahmad’s appointment, her sympathizers have said that if confirmed by the Senate, Ahmad, she would be replacing Kwara-born Dr. Sarah Alade, herself also an only woman deputy governor until she retired from the apex bank on March 22 as Deputy Governor, Economic Policy Directorate. Both are from the North-central geopolitical zone.
A government source has argued that Ahmad’s appointment is in order as there is vacuum in the apex, and needs to be filled.
In contrast, a finance practitioner, who does not want his name in print, has debunked whatever the reason the Aso Rock must have given in defence of their action, saying why someone who do not qualify when there are other more qualified EDs across the nation’s banking industry.
“In my opinion, the appointment of Aishah Ahmad is to position to person a hatchet job, otherwise while draw someone who was yet to make ED other bank to the deputy governorship position of the CBN. No matter how you look at it, there is fowl play somewhere,” he said.
In a letter released by Diamond Bank, and obtained by TheBoss, and dated October 5, 2017, the management congratulated Ahmad on her appointment, and within hours, there was a letter from The President, asking for immediate confirmation of the appointment as the CBN Deputy Governor.
While the majority of the Nigerian public wondered if the foregoing is not an act of corruption, it is worth knowing that the Buhari administration is leaving nothing for the public to wonder about as the blatant show of superior or unaccountability is very glaring.
“This act is a reflection of what the Buhari government thinks of Nigerians. That is there is a feeling among the elites that bestows superiority on them without a care of what the people feels. Otherwise why would a government behave this way; making a few hours old ED a deputy governor for the CBN. It is among every other thing very preposterous,” says a banker who pleaded anonymity.
“I think Aishah is on a mission. She is on her way to perform a hatchet job. Nigerians will soon understand, but unfortunately no one will ask any question, and those who attempt to ask will both be rebuffed and ignored,” another stakeholder responded.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Social Justice Equity and Transparency has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to make a fresh nomination for the position. The group said the new CBN deputy governor, Aishah Ahmad is not qualified for the job.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, the group’s executive director, Mary Ogwiji, said injustice is about to be institutionalized in the system. Ogwiji said the appointment of Ahmad in the midst of numerous other qualified alternatives is worrisome, especially at a time when the country is in dire need of credible technocrats in critical sector of the economy.
The coming weeks will reveal the intentions of the Buhari-led APC administration if it is beyond replacing Mrs. Sarah Alade with yet another woman from the Middle Belt on the CBN committee.