Chief Cletus N. Nwagwu: Executive Director operations of Central Bank of Nigeria

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Chief C. N Nwagwu

Chief C. N Nwagwu

Notable Nigerian personalities: Chief Cletus N. Nwagwu: Former Executive Director operations of Central Bank of Nigeria

Profile Summary.
1936 – 2005.

He is of royal lineage.

A native of Mbaise, Imo state.

Studied abroad with a village grant.

Was a seasoned banker and economist.

Held various positions in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

His signature was on Nigerian currency from 1980 – 1984.

Was instrumental to the exponential growth of the banking finance sector in the 80s.

Notable for the reorganization of CCB from a credit and savings institution to a fully lucrative commercial bank.

Retired as Executive Director Operations, of the Central Bank of Nigeria, 1989.

Chief C. N Nwagwu

Chief C. N Nwagwu

Chief Cletus N Nwagwu was one of the most knowledgeable Nigerian banking experts of all time. He witnessed the growth of the sector from colonial origins through the rough days of the immediate post-civil war era and its exponential growth in the I980’s.

In a corruption ridden Nigeria, his name seemed to have disappeared in history. He was and remains one of the few Nigerians who believe so much in fairness and equal opportunity for all. His achievements speak for themselves though rarely celebrated. He strongly believes in rewards on merit and not on connection. Among his mates and people who had any dealings with him during his time, his integrity stood out and continues to be his ultimate legacy.

Chief C. N Nwagwu.

Chief C. N Nwagwu receiving his membership as Fellow Nigerian Institute of Bankers.

Chief C . N Nwagwu began his career when he won a village grant in 1957 to study abroad, his travel to overseas fully sponsored and funded by his kinsmen who were levied to pay for his trip to London for his studies. When his scholarship funding eventually ended, his brother Late Nze Justin Ugonna Nwagwu who was a teacher then continued paying for his studies abroad with the help of his second brother Ezeji Michael Ukachi Nwagwu who was a tobacco merchant.

Chief C. N Nwagwu obtained BSc (Honours) degree in Money and Banking from the University of London, having attended the University College of London and the London School of Economics. Held a Diploma in Balance of Payments Methodology from the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, as well as a diploma in Economic Development and Problem-Solving from the Administrative Institute of the University of Pittsburgh.

Returning to Nigeria after his studies overseas, In 1964, he became part of the Nigerian delegation to attend the first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) focusing on shipping and invisible trade.

In 1965, he became the Assistant Director of Research at the Balance of Payments Office of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Later, as Assistant General Manager of CBN, he oversaw such major assignments as studying and checking the bank’s transactions with the British Government for any irregularities.

After the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, he became the General Manager or CEO of the Cooperative and Commerce Bank (CCB) in 1970, and became instrumental to the reorganization of the bank from a credit and savings institution to a fully lucrative commercial bank. Chief Nwagwu would later return to CBN in 1974 to become the Director of Security and in 1977 became the Director of Financial Systems and Controls. Later he became in charge of currency banking operations and exchange control at Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Chief C. N Nwagwu

Happy Chief C. N Nwagwu
Jolly good Fellow.

Chief C. N Nwagwu was notably known as instrumental to the phenomenal growth of the Nigerian banking sector during the 80s when he became the Director of Domestic Operations, he was signatory to Nigerian currency from 1980 to 1984.

In 1984, he became the Executive Director of Operations at CBN, overseeing all banking operations, both domestic and foreign, including correspondence relationships with other Central Banks globally.

In his work, ‘POLITICS OF BANKING IN NIGERIA’ which was organised in three parts. Part one which covered a wide variety of issues on banking and finance within the Nigerian environment focused mainly on the first banking legislation in Nigeria and the interpretation and manipulation of the 1969 banking decree. Analysing the long-sustained banking crises that have continued to destabilize the Nigerian economy, he categorically stated that politics have destroyed banking in Nigeria.
He said, “Sometimes it was possible to record the emotions and motives of the key players and the expected results as the events, which they masterminded, unfolded. This in essence is the politics of banking. For the politician, it was not easy to draw the line as to where politics ended and banking began, especially as banking and politics have become intertwined since the beginning of commerce.

In the final analysis, it means using politics to score a banking gain or using banking to score a political gain. But sometimes the playing field becomes so slippery that to survive, or even succeed, occasionally politics gives way to diplomacy


In the part three which deals with future guidelines and by a way of postscript on current economic matter, he urged research scholars to provide more information on all aspects, so that banking and finance in Nigeria can be understood.

He said, “We need to know more about banking and finance in Nigeria. Research scholars should provide more information on all aspects to enable the authorities structure a cohesive and all pervading policy appropriate for our emerging economy.”

Family and Background.

Chief C. N Nwagwu

Chief C. N Nwagwu’s investiture as Lord Mayor of Mbaise Club, 1994.

Chief Cletus Nwagwu is a native of Umuezee Ezuhu Nguru in Mbaise, Imo state. He was born on February 2, 1936 to the family of Nwagwu Erege. His uncle Chief Chinna Erege was the traditional ruler of the town then and his mother Adaocha Nwagwu was the first sister to Eze Onyekwere the traditional ruler (Eze)of Ahiara Ahiazu Mbaise, one of the most popular and respected Ezes in Igbo land. His other maternal uncles and aunties were also prominent names in Mbaise – Agulanna, Uwazie, Nduka and Enyeremadu.

Their father Nwagwu died very early when they were infants leaving them to struggle for survival with their widowed mother. His brother Nze Justin Ugonna was able to go to school then and later became a teacher and headmaster, while his second brother Ezeji Michael Ukachi Nwagwu (My grandfather) took to business helping their mother to fund his education and that of their senior brother. Luckily in 1957, he secured a village grant funded by Ihenweke people (now Nguru nweke) to study abroad from when his career exploded to greater heights. He had two other sisters, Mrs Veronica Olelewe and Late Mrs Augustina Dedeibe.

Chief C. N Nwagwu.

Chief C. N Nwagwu with his immediate family; wife, children and grandchildren with Monsignor Sylvester Osigweh of Jesus is Love and Power Healing Ministry Ogun State.

Chief CN Nwagwu was married to Mrs Bridget Nwagwu from Orodo, Imo state and they had 6 children, five males and one female, namely in a particular order:
Gordian Nwagwu a systems Engineer based in USA.

Chinyere Nwagwu, now Rev. Sr. Dr. Maria Carol Nwagwu – an educational expert and Reverend Sister based in USA.

Clovis Ndubuisi Nwagwu – an accountant and Mortgage specialist. Based in USA.
Dr. Chinedu I.k. Nwagwu – banker, database administrator and financial expert. Based in USA.

Dr. Chijioke Nwagwu, O.T.R – Rehablitation Physician and Occupational Therapist. Currently practicing in USA.
Uche Nwagwu – adminiatraive, organisational and developmental specialist. Based in USA and Nigeria.

He lived most of his life in Lagos while his career in banking soared. He retired in 1988 and died in 2005.

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Chief Cletus N. Nwagwu: Executive Director operations of Central Bank of Nigeria

Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu is a features writer focusing on people's stories, entrepreneurship, start-ups, social media marketing, and profiling. Follow her on Twitter - @fauntee Official Website: Mantra: Real Women Think Legacy.