Let’s say you’re President Bola Tinubu. You inherit a central bank that has lost its way under the leadership of its governor, Godwin Emefiele, who made life hard for the average Nigerian. For instance, his mismanagement of the Ways and Means advance, where he printed and recklessly advanced money to the government, contributed to inflation. As the new guy, you’ve had enough of him and decided to suspend him. 

So far—DSS detainment of Emefiele aside—everything seems textbook. Until you decide to appoint someone to probe everything the CBN has done. The appointee is a man with a controversial history—a man whose name is Jim Osayande Obazee.

Who is Jim Obazee?

Obazee was born on March 28, 1965. He’s from Edo state. He is an accounting graduate from the University of Benin and holds a master’s degree in the same course from the University of Lagos. Obazee is also a member of the Nigeria Institute of Management and the American Accounting Association. He holds a certificate in strategic financial analysis for business evaluation from Harvard University.

Obazee was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) between 2010 and 2017. The FRC was formerly the Nigerian Accounting Standards Board (NASB). It sets the accounting standards used in Nigeria. In January 2017, he was sacked by President Buhari. It’s here that things get very interesting.

What controversy has Obazee found himself in?

In 2017, The Cable reported on Obazee, describing him as the “man of controversies.” Going back to 2013, he was accused of sexual harassment by his then-personal assistant. The complainant wrote a letter to the FRC describing how Obazee professed his love for her even though she was married. She claimed he transferred and eventually sacked her when she refused his advances. He defended her sack by claiming the complainant had a “history of poor performance at work.”

Obazee has also sparred with influential people. These include the former CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, whom he recommended for the sack due to financial recklessness. Based on the recommendation, former President Jonathan sacked Sanusi in 2014.

Obazee also took on the founder of Stanbic IBTC bank, Atedo Peterside. In 2015, the FRC suspended Peterside’s FRC number and those belonging to senior bank officials over financial infractions. The FRC also imposed a ₦‎1 billion fine on the bank.

In 2016, Obazee squared off against Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The faceoff had to do with a directive that demanded heads of not-for-profit organisations step down after twenty years in office. This led Adeboye to step down while naming Joshua Obayemi as head of the RCCG in Nigeria while he remained General Overseer worldwide. Buhari fired Obazee and reconstituted the FRC board in 2017 due to the controversy this issue caused.

What does Tinubu want from Obazee?

According to Sahara Reporters, Obazee received his appointment letter dated July 28. The immediately effective appointment will see Obazee report directly to the president. Part of the letter reads, “You are to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent, and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment. I shall expect a weekly briefing on the progress being made.”

What have reactions to his appointment been like?

There have been mixed reactions to his appointment. Some have asked whether a thorough vetting process was conducted before the appointment.

Others say the appointment was the right call.

In any case, the next few weeks will be interesting to watch. The President and Emefiele will—for different reasons—be looking forward to learning what Obazee uncovers.

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