N’Assembly plans quick screening, private sector demands forex reforms
The National Assembly has hinted on plans to expedite the screening of nominees for the positions of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as the deputies.
The parliament said this would be done along with a list of two ministerial nominees of President Bola TInubu.
The president had on Friday nominated Yemi Cardoso to as the new CBN governor.
Cardoso was Lagos State’s Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in 1999. Tinubu also approved the nomination of four new deputy governors of the apex bank to serve for a similar duration of five years in the first instance, pending their confirmation by the Senate.
The nominees are Emem Usoro, Muhammad Abdullahi-Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor and Bala Bello.
But the Senate said on Sunday it would screen the governor and other executive of the CBN alongside the new ministerial nominees as soon as it gets an Executive Communication to that effect upon its resumption from its annual recess. The Senate spokesperson and the Chairman, the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Yemi Adaramodu, on Sunday told The PUNCH that the Red Chamber was ready to “act swiftly” on the screening of the nominees.
The President had on Sunday appointed the duo of Dr. Jamila Ibrahim and Ayodele Olawande as Minister of Youths and Minister of State for Youths, respectively.
The appointments of the ministers are subject to confirmation by the Senate, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, had in a statement noted.
Earlier, the president had sent the names of 48 ministerial nominees in two batches to the president for approval.
However, three nominees including former Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Ruffai, and former Nexim Bank MD, Stella Okotete were rejected by the Red Chamber while 45 ministerial nominees were confirmed.
The Senate had after the screening embarked on its annual recess and is expected to resume on Tuesday, September 26.
Cardoso’s nomination followed the reported resignation of the former governor, Godwin Emefiele. The statement is titled ‘President Tinubu nominates new CBN governor and management team for senate screening and confirmation.’
Tinubu also approved the nomination of four new Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria, for a term of five years at the first instance, pending their confirmation by the Senate.
Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi had been in charge of the apex bank in an acting capacity following his appointment by President Bola Tinubu.
Speaking on when the Senate would screen the new nominees, Adaramodu said, “We are resuming on September 26. The Senate shall be expecting the nominees whenever the Executive is able to do so.
“It’s the constitutional duty of the Senate to screen and confirm ministerial and other statutory nominees, and it’s for the Executive to submit such nominees to the Senate. The Senators are ready to act swiftly on this.”
When confirmed, the number of ministers would move from 45 to 47. Legal dispute
Following the nominations of Yemi Cardoso as the new Governor of the CBN and Mrs Emem Usoro, Mr Muhammad Dattijo, Mr Philip Ikeazor, and Dr Bala Bello as new deputy governors of the apex bank, President Bola Tinubu may need to remove the four deputy governors that served under Godwin Emefiele.
According to a report from Reuters, Godwin Emefiele, had to resign, even though in detention, to pave the way for Cardoso to replace him.
While the CBN ACT of 2007 requires a Senate nod or a written resignation from the CBN governor before their removal, the act empowers the President with the ability to remove deputy governors.
One of the requirements for the disqualification of a CBN governor or deputy governor according to Section 11 (1) of the act reads, “A person shall not remain a Governor, Deputy Governor or Director of the Bank if he is (f) is removed by the President: Provided that the removal of the Governor shall be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed.” The deputy governors likely to be removed include Folashodun Shonubi (Operations Directorate Oct 2018 – Sep 2023), who is currently the acting governor.
Others are Aishah Ahmad (Financial System Stability Directorate Mar 2018 – Sep 2023), Edward Adamu (Corporate Services Directorate Mar 2018 – Sep 2023), and Dr Kingsley Obiora (Economic Policy Directorate Mar 2020-Sep 2023)
According to the Act, the policy and general administration of the affairs and business of the bank shall be governed by a board of directors which shall consist of a “Governor who shall be the Chairman; four Deputy Governors; the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; five Directors; and Accountant-General of the Federation.” Lawyers react
However, some Senior Advocates of Nigeria have disagreed over the appointment of four new CBN deputy governors while their tenure had yet to elapse.
Mike Ozekhome, SAN, said they could not be replacements for them unless they were removed.
He said, “Tenure is statutory. Except they are first sacked, replacements cannot be made. There can’t be two Obas, or two Ezes, or two Emirs in one palace. One must go before another ascends the throne. “
Also, a lawyer, Adegoke Rasheed, SAN said there was nothing wrong with their appointments statutorily.
He added that anyone with complaints against them should inform the appropriate quarters.
Adegoke said, “I believe their appointments are statutorily right and constitutionally okay. Although their appointments are still temporary until their confirmation by the Senate, once that process is followed, it is legally right. People may have issues and believe they should not occupy the position that can be raised to the right quarters.” However, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN said with the corruption allegations from the apex bank, the president should be allowed to appoint those who could drive his agenda.
He said, “In my view, I believe the president should appoint anyone who can help him achieve his plans. What we are reading about the apex bank being enmeshed in unimaginable corruption is worrisome. The president has his work cut out for him. This country is in a mess; we should allow him to pick whoever he wants as long as there are no security reports against them.”
Private sector’s demands
Speaking with The PUNCH, the Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, urged the incoming CBN leadership to pay emphasis to issues bordering on monetary policy and the management of foreign exchange.
He said, “I think getting our monetary policy right will be one of the things we want, and also the management of forex.”
Also speaking, the Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Mr. Wale Oyerinde, said that the new CBN governor needs to address the foreign exchange crisis in the country.
He said, “The new CBN governor, no doubt, has an audacious task ahead. However, the starting point would be to quickly tackle the persisting forex challenge, which is the major reason for high inflation and rising interest rates in the economy.
“Addressing the forex challenge would most likely moderate both inflation and interest rates. In this regard, it is important to evaluate the true position of Nigerian’s external reserves to allay the recent controversy by J.P. Morgan, that the reserve is $3.9bn and not $33bn as presented by the last CBN management and determine the possible of intervention from the reserves.”
He added, “It is also important that the new management of the apex bank should strongly engage the presidency, which is also handling petroleum resources to broker how to upscale crude oil production to at least the 1.6 million barrels per day Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries quota for Nigeria to improve the level of forex inflow.
“In order to keep steering the economy, it is important for the CBN to improve forex intervention/sales to the official forex market with a directive for more forex allocation to the productive sector. While the task is huge, it is not insurmountable.”
Also, reacting to the new appointment, a facilitator with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Dr Ikenna Nwaosu, stressed the need for financial system stability.
On his part, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa urged the new leadership of the apex bank to address long-standing issues such as unrestricted borrowing to the Federal Government as well as a thorough review of the country’s monetary policy.
He also suggested the establishment of an international finance centre that would create a free zone for foreign currency and boost forex inflows into the country.
Idahosa said, “We also expect some innovation from the new CBN governor. He is somebody who has been in the financial industry for a long time. One of the things that we expected the CBN to do since the time of Soludo was the Nigeria International Financial Centre. After setting up the Africa Finance Corporation, the next major project that Soludo wanted to do was the Nigeria International Financial Centre, like Dubai or Hong Kong Financial Centre, which is a free zone of foreign currency.“If we had an international financial centre, people can bring their money and take it out anytime, so there would be free flow of foreign currency in and out of the country. So, there would be free flow of foreign currency in and out of that free zone. Our access to foreign currency would be much better than what we have now.”