Adeosun Begs NASS to Cut CBN Governor’s Powers

March 23, 2017

By Dipo Olowookere

The National Assembly has been urged to reduce the powers of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor.

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, made this appeal on Tuesday, when members of the House of Representatives Tactical Committee on Recession led by Mr Bode Ayorinde, paid her a visit at her office in Abuja.

Mrs Adeosun said at the moment, the CBN boss has excessive powers that give him the opportunity not to consult with the Finance Ministry before coming up with monetary and fiscal policies

She said it amounted to what she described as excesses on the part of the apex bank’s Governor to decide and act on financial matters without recourse to the Minister of Finance, who is constitutionally required to supervise financial policies, programmes and activities of the Federal Government.

“I want to correct the impression that the CBN is under us. They are not. Unfortunately, a law was passed, making them independent and giving them more powers. This has resulted in one person having so much power.

“In the time of Prof. Charles Soludo as CBN Governor, he went to the National Assembly asking for more powers and you can see where that has taken us to. So we are back to the legislature to help us correct this problem of too much power. As a result, there are no checks and balances,” Mrs Adeosun informed her guests.

According to the Minister, under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the then CBN Governor ordered the sacking and trial of bank chiefs and introduced monetary policies to regulate certain activities in the financial sector.

Reacting to the issue raised by the Minister, an industry analyst, the Director-General of West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, such an idea should be thrown out immediately, as it was outdated and out of sync with modern global trends.

“I have no details, but if this is actually what she said, it is not acceptable. The Central Bank should remain independent and not be brought under the Ministry of Finance. Nigeria is too large and not equipped for that arrangement. The CBN should not be seen as a subset of the ministry,” he said.

Also, erstwhile banker and financial expert, Mr Fola Adeola, reinforcing the CBN’s autonomy as a global practice, said the relationship between the ministry and CBN should be the coordination of monetary and fiscal policies.

“While I do not know exactly what she said and meant, but if the move is to reduce CBN’s powers, it may be tantamount to an infringement on its autonomy. On the other, if the matters in question are anything other than monetary policy issues, she may have a case to make,” he said.

Deputy Managing Director of financial services advisory firm, Afrinvest Limited, Mr Victor Ndukauba, is more concerned about how the adverse impact it would have on the larger economy by subjecting the CBN to the ministry’s supervision.

“Ideally, the Central Bank should have only one function and that is monetary, controlling inflation. To say that the Governor and the Central Bank should be under the control of the Executive would mean that any decision that is made by the CBN will be subjected to political influence.

“So, the place of the Central Bank is sacrosanct. In fact, if we are to take any step in removing or rolling back that independence, it would not augur well for us,” he said.

In view of the challenges the principal parties may face in achieving set goals under the current economic crisis, Mr Udukauba called for a synergy between the two, in order to realise common goals of stemming galloping inflation, cutting high unemployment rate and buoying economic activities.

Meanwhile, none of the CBN Governors – including the incumbent, Mr Godwin Emefiele, and former ones, Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and Mr Charles Soludo, picked their calls or responded to text messages from The Guardian to them.

Mr Soludo, whom Mrs Adeosun identified as the chief protagonist of the current impasse, in a text message response, merely said: “Sorry, I am abroad and can only be reached via text please.”

Additional information from The Guardian.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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