During the year 2003, when Professor Charles Soludo assumed the governorship of central Bank of Nigeria, he came full of energy and confidence fully believing that he is the man for the job, the one genius that would transformed the Nigerian banking landscape. His predecessor in the job Joseph Sanusi was slow and conservative something of the old school, when compare to Soludo's academic background and revolutionary neoclassical economics ideas.Soludo was the economic adviser to the then President Obasanjo before been nominated for the top CBN job; as the economic adviser he was credited with formulating NEEDS (National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy) among other things. The one single policy that Soludo has always been associated with when his tenure as CBN governor is remembered is his now controversial banking sector consolidation. During this banking consolidation Nigerian banks were rushed into increasing their capital base without any thinking about the effect this rush process would have on the Nigerian banking landscape, particularly its effects on Banking stability and customers confidence on these banks.
During the process the number of Nigerian banks came down from 80+ to 24 which till date stand as unprecedented in the history of Nigerian banking sector. These 24 banks were as well rushed into boosting their capital base and total deposit, so that they could become number one in this or that on the continent. At the end of the day the ability of these banks to control and manage the various risks they were building up as they increased in size were weaken. And, all prior alerts and warnings from careful observers of the industry were ignored. This is another evidence pointing to the arrogant nature of the man Soludo; he was i knew it all and i don't need any body to tell me how to do this or that.
Sanusi came to the job with a background as commercial banker; though, he was in the academia but it was for a short period of time unlike Soludo who attended the level of professorship. His backgound as a professional risk manager helped him in dealing with the rots that soludo left behind after his banking consolidation. The man Sanusi did a lot of good work in cleaning the mess after Soludo, albeit, controversially. Sanusi fired the heads of about eight banks and jailed some of them. He came out with a list of major bank debtors, that includes the who's who of business and political elites in Nigeria, threaten them with jail term but back off later. Till date some of these chronic and bad bank debtors are still walking Nigerian streets free.
The Nigerian banking landscape has changed a lot from Soludo's period that was characterized by rapid changes to Sanusi's era of costly restoration of stability in the industry. Unlike, the universal banking system we had during the time of Soludo, today, Sanusi has reverted the industry back to the Pre-Soludo period, that put a line between commercial and merchant banking. But, both of them are talkative, controversial and unpredictable figures not like the slow phase Joseph Sanusi. Both, people came to the job relatively younger than most that held the job before them. while Sanusi is aristocratic and always ready to tell the world about it (remember his occasional attendance of official gathering in traditional attire), Soludo was much carried away by the desire to cut an image of a typical western influenced academic central banker - a genius (remember his boasting, 'i am an Econometrician, macro-monetary economist,.....blah, blah').