Sanusi is Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2011

Date Published: March 15, 2012

Photo:  The publisher, Forbes Africa Magazine, Mr. Rakesh Wahi presenting “Person of the Year 2011” to the CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on Monday, November 28, 2011.

Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, arguably the most decorated Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has emerged winner of the Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2011. The announcement was made on Monday, November 28th at the inaugural Forbes Africa Person of the Year awards ceremony organised by ABN Productions, at the Sky Restaurant, Eko Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.

The event was attended by high ranking officials and businessmen from Nigeria and across Africa, with the Governor of Lagos State Babatunde Fashola and the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi delivering keynote addresses.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was named winner from a shortlist of five of Africa’s most influential personalities. According to the Managing Editor of Forbes Africa, Chris Bishop, “they have had significant influence on the events of 2011 on the African continent.” The shortlist includes: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, Africa’s first female Head of State; Pedro Veron Pires, former president of Cape Verde, who won the 2011 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership; Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, president of Dangote Group; and the late Professor Wangari Mathaai, Nobel Prize Kenyan environmental and political activist.

Sanusi was selected by a judging panel consisting of BBC bureau chief, Peter Burdon; CNBC Africa chief editor, Godfrey Mutizwa; Reuters bureau chief, Matthew Tostevin, Managing Editor Forbes Africa, Chris Bishop and Forbes Africa senior journalist, Vuyo Mvoko.

Since assuming office as CBN Governor, Sanusi’s far-reaching reforms in Nigeria’s banking sector have won him many accolades at home and globally. He has has been conferred with no less than five Honorary Doctorate Degrees from various Nigerian Universities, most recent by the University of Benin and Benue State Universit, Makurdi; he was named Central Bank Governor of the Year in Sub-Saharan Africa for the second consecutive year by the international business magazine, Emerging Markets; the global Central Bank Governor of the Year 2011 by The Banker Magazine , a publication of the Financial Times of London; and various media organisations in Nigeria, including Silverbird, Leadership, Nation and Tribune named him their Man of the Year between 2009 and 2011. He has also been named by Time Magazine to be among the 2011 TIME 100 Most Influential people in the world among others.

The rigour with which the CBN tackled its banking crisis is testament to the determination and courage of Governor Sanusi. The hard line reforms, which drew criticisms and personalised attacks from some interested parties on the domestic front, earned him the approval of even western regulators and politicians, many of whom are still struggling for solutions to the financial crises in their own countries.

Some of the unique features in Sanusi�s handling of Nigeria’s banking crisis include; the creation of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) backed by legislation, with the mandate to buy up Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) from the deposit banks, while also helping to recapitalize the distressed banks; the deposit banks will pay around 80% of the approximately N620bn ($4.0bn) bank bailout package rather than foisting the cost of on taxpayers; and no depositors have lost any funds in the whole process.

The renewed strength of the Nigerian banking sector juxtaposed against the current impasse in the banking crisis in Europe arguably vindicates the hard line of the Sanusi-led CBN actions in the last 2 years. With the recapitalization of all banks now concluded, Sanusi remains confident that a line has been drawn under the country’s banking crisis, but he warns of continued vigilance as events in Europe and the US unfold.

Beyond banking reforms, Sanusi has continued to act boldly and decisively on the policy front, and, in his capacity as economic adviser to the government, has been persistent in asking difficult questions relating to structural bottlenecks, in a bid to make vital non-oil sectors of the economy such as Agriculture and Power, commercially viable, a stance which has earned him both praise and controversy.

The Lex Column of the Financial Times (Nov 23rd 2011) stated: “Nigeria’s reformist Central Banker Lamido Sanusi is not afraid of bold gestures to keep economic growth on track – and remind investors of policy intent. He has Nigerian banking reforms under his belt (and lenders aware of the need to finance productive economic activity). Now he has effectively devalued the naira, showing that he is prepared to use less subtle means of stoking up economic growth.”

In his acceptance speech, Mallam Sanusi said that �everything achieved as governor is a collective result of the five thousand hardworking workers of the Bank�.