The Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, is also said to be lobbying to get the plum job and is actively pushing his candidacy through Vice-President Namadi Sambo.
Sanusi, whose tenure end early next year, has said he would not seek reappointment for a second five-year term.
The CBN governor, whose grandfather was Emir of Kano, had openly expressed his interest in becoming the next Emir.
Even before Sanusi’s declaration, Presidency sources had said he was not likely to be nominated for another term despite enjoying a rather successful but controversial tenure.
Sources said top Presidency officials feel that Sanusi’s nomination might become a problem for President Jonathan if he is put forward next year as the CBN governor has become one of the biggest critics of the administration’s huge spending on political office holders and other cronies of those in power.
It was learnt that the CBN governor had stepped on toes of some key members of the administration including members of the National Assembly and some Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, bigwigs who feel that Sanusi cannot be part of a government which he continues to embarrass by his utterances and are determined not to confirm his appointment for a second term.
Sanusi has consistently expressed misgivings about the size and spending habits of the government and said recently that Nigeria cannot make any progress if 70 per cent of revenues continue to be expended on running the government.
Yuguda, 56, who will complete his second term as governor in 2015, faces an uncertain future thereafter. Sources close to his camp say he believes he is amply qualified for the post and the CBN governorship is sure way of keeping himself in the corridors of power.
The Bauchi State governor had served as Managing Director and Chief Executive of the defunct Inland Bank between 1992 and 1999. He was then appointed Managing Director/ Chief Executive of NAL Merchant Bank holding office until June 2000.
A 1979 graduate of Economics of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Yuguda obtained a Masters in Business Administration in 1998 at the University of Jos in Plateau State, he began his banking career with the Federal Mortgage Bank, in 1981 and also worked with Savannah Bank before moving over to Inland Bank.
He was appointed Minister of State Transportation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and was moved to the Ministry of Aviation in May 2003 and served until he left office in June 2005.
He was elected governor of Bauchi State in 2007.
Presidency sources however said that Yuguda’s candidature would face some hurdles as he is not seen as a reliable ally. He was one of the first governors to endorse Jonathan’s candidature shortly after President Umaru Yar’Adua died, even though he is married to the daughter of the late President.
Aig-Imoukhuede is being tipped based on his newly-found closeness to Jonathan. The Access Bank boss has become an almost regular fixture in the corridors of power and he was recently appointed to head a Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of subsidy claims and payments, which indicted 21 oil firms of fraudulent activities in July and recommended that they jointly refund N382bn found to have been wrongly paid as subsidy.
The Access Bank boss is already due to step down in December when he would have completed 10 years in office based on new corporate governance rules imposed by the CBN in the wake of the banking sector crisis and at 46, he will be the youngest CBN governor if he gets the job.
Last year, Aig- Imokhuede carried out an audacious and controversial takeover of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc and the merger of both banks was completed in January making Access Bank one of the top five banks in Nigeria.
He is a Director of Africa Finance Corporation, AFC, and fellow of the African Leadership Institute under the auspices of Aspen Institute, Colorado in the United States. He is also honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, CIBN, and an Alumnus of Harvard Business School, Executive Management Programme.
CBN sources however said that government may choose one of the serving deputy governors to fill the post when it becomes vacant.
One is Mr. Tunde Lemo, 53, who is currently Deputy Governor, Operations Directorate and has been on the CBN board since January 2004.
Lemo, a chartered accountant and banker, was Managing Director of Wema Bank between 2000 and 2003 and has been responsible for a wide range of policy initiatives aimed at deepening and reducing the cost of banking services among other strategic functions. He had previously served as Deputy Governor, Financial Sector Surveillance and chairman of the Abuja Securities and Commodities Exchange and Nigeria Export Import Bank and is a director of the AFC.
Another strong contender is Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, who came into office in 2009.
Moghalu, 49, a lawyer with a PhD in International Relations, is responsible for implementing reforms aimed at ensuring the quality and stability of the banking system and also serves on the board of directors of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, as well as being the Chairman of NEXIM and the Financial Institutions Training Centre, FITC. He is also a member of the Economic Management Team, EMT.
Sanusi’s replacement would have big shoes to fill as the incumbent has gained huge respect in international financial circle on account of his sweeping reforms in the banking sector and outspoken views.
Sanusi, who was named Central Bank Governor of the Year by London-based Banker Magazine in 2011 had sacked the chief executives of eight banks within four months of assuming office after an audit found evidence of mismanagement and reckless lending.
He has pushed for stability in the currency and helped bring inflation down below 10 per cent, while at the same time antagonising lawmakers by criticising their spending and courting controversy for his outspoken views, most recently on China’s role in Africa.
Sanusi-led the Monetary Policy Committee in increasing the benchmark interest rate by six percentage points to a record 12 per cent from September 2010 to October 2011 to bolster the currency and curb inflation.
The retention of the interest rate at 12 per cent amid evidence that inflation was being reined in, has elicited criticism from the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and several financial analysts who have called for monetary easing to facilitate increase lending to the real sector especially the small and medium enterprises.
The Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane said, “That quality of character, that boldness is a quality that will be difficult to find amongst policy makers in Nigeria.”
An Emerging-Markets Strategist at Standard Bank Group Limited, Mr. Samir Gadio, said last week that the government should name his replacement soon to help ease investors’ concerns and manage the transition.