Senate’s first assignment last Tuesday after returning from a six-week recess was the screening and confirmation of the new management team of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Senators used the opportunity to set agenda for the helmsmen of the nation’s apex financial institution, Sunday Aborisade reports
Senators were not expecting a busy and hectic session last Tuesday being the first legislative day after their annual holiday but the inclusion of the screening and confirmation of the newly appointed management team of the Central Bank of Nigeria in the Order Paper extended the plenary from the normal 2pm period till late in the evening.
The leadership of the 10th Senate did not help matters as the principal officers led by the presiding officer, Senator Godswill Akpabio, filed into the chamber almost two hours behind schedule.
As if that was not enough, the plenary dissolved into closed session shortly after the usual opening rites.
The rules of the red chamber was slightly adjusted after the lengthy executive session to enable the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, read the President Bola Tinubu’s official communication requesting the screening and confirmation of the CBN helmsmen, and allowing them inside the hallowed chamber for the exercise.
The nominee for the position of the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, and the deputy governor-nominees, Messrs Emem Nnana Usoro, Muhammad Sani Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor and Bala M. Bello, were given opportunities to address the Senate.
Each of the nominees gave brief introduction of themselves and what they planned to do in order to reposition the apex financial institution.
All of them admitted that the immediate past leadership of the CBN completely lost focus having jettisoned the bank’s core mandate and engaging in activities outside their scope.
The new team pledged to uphold the mandate of the CBN by coming up with short, medium and long term solutions to the current economic challenges facing the country.
The senators in their various observations enumerated the various mistakes made by the past CBN leadership and specifically catalogued the actions taken by them which completely made them to derail from their core mandates.
Apart from warning the Cardoso-led management team of the CBN to avoid the mistakes of the past, Senators also offered useful advice on what they should do to make them succeed.
Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Osita Izunaso, urged the new leadership of the apex bank to start opening their books for proper auditing by the office of the Auditor General for the Federation in accordance with the Act which established the bank.
On his part, Senator representing Jigawa North West, Babangida Useni, appealed to the new CBN board to think outside the box by coming up with friendly foreign exchange regime that would keep the manufacturing firms in business.
Useni noted that 370 industries had become moribund in recent time quoting a report by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment. He urged them to come up with policies that would do to revive them.
Abia South Senator, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abia South, noted that beyond fantastic policies which his colleagues were demanding from the CBN helmsmen, they should have the courage to resist undue influence from the political class.
Corroborating the fears expressed by Abaribe, Senator representing Anambra South, Ifeanyi Ubah, appealed to the team to end foreign exchange recycling among certain influential people in the country
Chairman of Senate Committee on Banking Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Tokunbo Abiru, asked what mechanisms that would be put in place to stop the distortion in the financial stability.
Also contributing, Chairman, Senate Committee on Industry, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, called for thorough investigation of the current directors of the apex bank to explain their roles in the various policy somersault of the past administration at the CBN.
Fadahunsi said, “The new team should thoroughly investigate all directors in the CBN and monitor their activities. They are the ones implementing policies and they contributed greatly to the rots being uncovered at the apex bank.
“The former deputy governors who had served the bank should be brought back as consultants since all the new team were appointed from outside of the bank. The directors who are involved in the roundtrip should be probed.
“A forensic expert should look into the books of the directors particularly those in the foreign exchange. The most worrisome aspect is that so investors can get the dollars. There is need for thorough investigation, a forensic expert who should found out how are CBN disbursing dollar.
“The unit that handles the Anchor Borrower programme and those in the foreign exchange should be made to expose how the last CBN management mismanaged the nation’s earnings in foreign exchange.
Apart from this, the nation’s borders should be reopened”.
Former Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu asked whether the new team could stabilise the naira.
In his submission, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, said government must intervene to stabilise the country’s currency, the Naira, noting that the market forces cannot bring stability to the naira against the dollar.
“The challenge we deal with now is everybody seems to have submitted completely to the so-called market forces and rely on the invisible eyes of Adams Smith to regulate and determine the value of the naira.
“It is now clear, after the Ibrahim Babangida’a started the devaluation, that the market forces can never stabilise the naira. The state must intervene.”