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OPINION

That Apology from the President

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By Jideofor Adibe

What is the value of an apology offered by a country’s ruler to its citizens? More importantly, what does the leader expect to achieve by such an apology?

When President Muhammadu Buhari hosted a controlled number of guests at his ninth and final Sallah homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he used the opportunity to seek the forgiveness of Nigerians he felt he might have hurt during his eight year presidency.

“I honestly consider myself very lucky; I was made a governor, minister of petroleum, head of state in uniform, then after three attempts, God, through technology and PVC, I became president.
I think God has given me an incredible opportunity to serve as your president.
And I thank God for that”, Buhari said appreciatively. Continuing in the same line of divine attribution and injunction, he added: “So, please, whoever feels I have done wrong to them, we are all humans. There is no doubt I hurt some people, and I wish you will pardon me. And those that think that I have hurt them so much, please pardon me.”

Nigerians reacted differently to this apparent public show of contrition by the retired General. Many took the opportunity of the apology to evaluate his eight-year rule and scored him an embarrassing low. Veteran Nigerian singer, Charly Boy, who is also known as ‘Area Father’, appeared to capture the feelings of most of the critics of his apology, as he wrote: “Dear, General Buhari, apology not accepted! At least, by me. Abeg abeg, stop forming…Many will agree with the fact that Nigeria in the last eight years has been intentionally and deliberately mismanaged under your watch and the APC cabals with impunity and intensity.”

Buhari was not alone in profusely apologising to Nigerians. Governors Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Samuel Ortom of Benue State, all vacating their respective government houses on 29 May 2023 after eight year tenures, apologised to the citizens and residents of their respective states.

But Nigeria’s political leaders are not the only ones who have deemed it necessary to offer public apologies. On 18 January 1992, for instance, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa publicly apologised for Japan’s use of “comfort women” during World War II. In December 1992, Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating publicly acknowledged the wrongs done to the Aborigines of the country and sought forgiveness. Pope John Paul II apologised on 9 August 1993 for the Catholic Church’s involvement with the African slave trade. On 29 August 1993, South African President F.W. de Klerk apologised for apartheid. On 31 August 1993, Nelson Mandela apologised for atrocities allegedly committed by the African National Congress against its suspected enemies. Of course, there are also leaders who have stubbornly refused to apologise, even for obvious errors of judgments.

But what do we make of public apologies by leaders?

Barbara Kellerman, in an article in Harvard Business Review of April 2006 entitled, “When Should a Leader Apologise — and When Not?” argued that apologies are a tactic leaders now frequently use “in an attempt to put behind them, at a minimal cost, the errors of their ways.” She noted that public apologies by leaders are not without risks.

As she puts it: “For leaders to apologise publicly is therefore a high-stakes move: for themselves, for their followers, and for the organisations they represent. Refusal to apologise can be smart, or it can be suicidal. Conversely, readiness to apologise can be seen as a sign of strong character or as a sign of weakness. A successful apology can turn enmity into personal and organisational triumph while an apology that is too little, too late, or too transparently tactical can bring on individual and institutional ruin.”

Kellerman identified four possible reasons why a leader would endure the discomfort and assume the risk of offering a public apology: One, is that it could serve an individual purpose. Here the leader senses that he/she made a mistake or committed a wrongdoing and publicly apologises to encourage his/her followers to forgive and forget this. Two, is the institutional purpose, whereby one or more persons in a group to which the leader belongs made a mistake or committed a wrongdoing and the leader publicly apologises to restore the group’s internal cohesion and external reputation. Three, is an intergroup purpose where one or more persons in a group to which the leader belongs made a mistake or committed a wrongdoing that inflicted harm on one or more persons outside the group, and the leader publicly apologises to repair relations with the injured parties. Four, is a moral purpose whereby the leader experiences genuine remorse for a mistake made or a wrongdoing committed either individually or institutionally and both apologises for this and offers restitution.

Kellerman argues that the first three purposes are primarily strategic and rooted in self-interest, while the last one – the moral purpose – is primarily authentic.

The major problem with Kellerman’s typologies however is that we will never know the real motivation for a leader’s decision to offer public apology. For Buhari, we can argue that probably he apologised for all of the above grounds – though he offered no restitution to those injured. I will also argue that those who rejected his apologies miss the point because public apologies by leaders are like rhetorical questions: they do not require the acceptance or non-acceptance of the apologies by those addressed. They are essentially a therapeutic exercise by the leader offering the apology.

Buhari probably offered his apologies because he knew there was no way he could have met all the reasonable and unreasonable expectations of Nigerians during his tenure. Leadership often involves taking hard decisions and for every tough decision taken, there are people who will be hurt by it.

In our clime, it is easier for political leaders to apologise when they want to say good bye – like someone terminally ill who wants to make peace with everyone before meeting his maker. Buhari has repeatedly said he is tired and will want to be as far away as possible from Abuja. He wants to go and rest and probably needs the apology as a closure to his political career. 

How will history remember Buhari? It is not certain that Buhari cares much about how history will remember him. However, even by the law of unintended consequence, every leader must have left something good and something not so noble behind. For Buhari, despite his crass nepotism, mismanagement of the country’s diversity and saddling the country with huge debts, he has done reasonably well in the provision of infrastructure and in using personal diplomacy to secure high profile roles in leading international organisations for some Nigerians. His achievements or lack of them, however, will be amplified by the performance (or lack of performance) of the incoming government. If our history – in which the past is usually rosier than then present – is anything to go by, then it is only a matter of time before Buhari, despite the current generalised misgivings against his government, also joins the pantheon of our past leaders we often like to dress in borrowed garments.

Jideofor Adibe is a professor of Political Science and International Relations at Nasarawa State University, Keffi and Extraordinary Professor of Government Studies at North Western University, Mafikeng South Africa. He is also the founder of Adonis & Abbey Publishers and can be reached at 0705 807 8841(Text or WhatsApp only).

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OPINION

Rivers Politicians and National Politics

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By Blessing Wikina

National Politics, would always be a beckoning graveyard for Rivers Political Leaders who are following the allure of being in Abuja after their tenure.

They have never passed the qualifying exam, becos they think stacks of cash, personal ambition, and grotesque intrigues,  can bestow national presence to them at the expense of Rivers people’s need.

  National Politics has its allure, no doubt, and it’s momentary bragging rights, plus low hanging fruits temptation for the Politicians.

 

    At least, some nominees from their stable will be jerked up to Board members,  Ambassadorial postings, etc….

even displacing qualified persons. But do they remember that those perkings are mere cosmetic.

    Rivers State would be better, if their economy is improved, made sustainable, and stand on its footings rather than on droplets from  the dinner table, which is what you have access to now.

    They assume that local profiling, and their “tigritude” status in Port Harcourt ,can be photocopied to the center. No. No. No. 

    The rest of Nigeria knows the indices, and welcome our ego, pride, and money, as mere glittering fragments, and baits to hook our guys taste, and lead them to self destruct.

   We do not have a population figure that can tilt a national election to victory, nor the benefit of Political Elders at the top, to push our cases, when such mighty men and “owners of Nigeria” meet behind closed doors. 

    When the majority and power blocs in Nigeria are ready, they will always dash anyone, anybody, any lucky person, from here  power, without an effort, without a fight, without a “godfather”. Cases in the far past, and near past are signposts. 

    Ambition, aspiration, noise, had never given any politician from here his political need, because it does not amount to an assets base. 

    Over the years, inspite of their annual pilgrimage to Abuja, they hadn’t even deployed their huge earnings to any economic productive venture back home.

    To date, there are no farms, companies, outlets, or even chains of businesses linked to them at home. 

    They had not provided daily economic employment, or even pushed their vuvuzellas into influential positions nationally.

     Events had made me to declare to Rivers Politicians, a welcome to your graveyard, located in national Politics……if you fail to bring economic involving investments back home.

    Past question papers, alliances, permutations, scheming,  and intrigues, plus cash won’t give anyone from here a respectable dominant national profile, except a mere errand boy political position.

    If you are not dashed power, by them,  their undertakers will gladly show you an open grave…..

When you don’t bring things home to ignite economic activities for our people…..you will be like this power outlet……over loaded, over burdened, over used……and non effective.

*Blessing Wikina, a retired Director of Information with the Rivers State Government, writes from Port Harcourt.*

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Perspective

Democracy Day Speech By Benue Governor, Ali

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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY REV. FR. DR. HYACINTH IORMEM ALIA, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF BENUE STATE, DURING THE OCCASION OF DEMOCRACY DAY CELEBRATION, HELD AT THE IBB SQUARE, MAKURDI, ON WEDNESDAY JUNE 12, 2024

My great people of Benue,

2.​I am excited to join you today to mark 25 years of uninterrupted civil administration in our dear country – Nigeria.

3.

​This day affords us the privilege not just to merely mark the passage of time, but to celebrate all our past and present heroes of democracy; as well as reflect on our democratic journey in the state so far, particularly in the last one year prior to which your unanimous voices at the polls culminated into my emergence as your governor.

4.​Exactly two weeks ago, being May 29, 2024, made it exactly one year since I took the oath of office. However, I deliberately postponed my speech on that day so as to coincide with this year’s Democracy Day celebration. 

5.​I considered it more appropriate to use today’s celebrations to give you a brief but articulate account of my stewardship in the last one year; as well as point to the bright path that leads to a greater Benue which we all aspire for, as a government and as a people.

6.​Over a year ago, I stood here and made lofty but achievable promises to you. These promises, enshrined in our 7-point agenda, ranged from economic growth, to infrastructural development, security of lives and property, prompt payment of salaries and pensions/gratuities, amongst others.

7.​Upon assumption of office, we met Benue in an economic ditch. We immediately hit the ground running by engendering economic growth through agriculture. Accordingly, we procured100 trucks of fertilizer which was distributed to farmers at subsidized rates. The impact so far has been tremendous.

8.​Beyond provision of fertilizers, we also approved counterpart funding for International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD’s) Value Chain Development Programme in eight local government areas, with a view to enhancing rice and cassava production. 

9.​We further established collaborations with agricultural input suppliers to ensure the availability of improved seeds and seedlings. This was coupled with our reactivation of the swine/crop integrated project in Yandev, Gboko Local Government Area, through partnership with the French Development Agency to advance agricultural skills, as well as renovation of the infrastructure to boost enhance productivity. 

10.​Furthermore, we have struck a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deal with Star Fertilizer Company Limited, in order to revive the state-owned fertilizer blending plant. This is in addition to our kick-starting of phased development of the Ikyogen Cattle Ranch.

11.​Meanwhile, plans are in top gear towards dredging the River Benue, as a catalyst for boosting agricultural activities and easy movement of agricultural products.

12.​Furthermore, just last week, I handed over 33 new tractors and the sum of 380 Million Naira to community interest groups across the state, to undertake climate-smart agricultural activitiesunder the Community Revolving Fund (CRF) scheme of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL).

13.​I assure you that my administration is more than committed to improving the livelihoods of all and sundry in the state, especially through agriculture.

14.​With regards to Economy and Wealth Creation, our administration has created 1,450 ad-hoc jobs for the Nigeria Fire Extinguishers Control, with plans for permanent integration into the Federal Fire Service.

15.​We are currently setting up a multifunctional fashion hub in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, to benefit over 250 professionals in the industry.

16.​In a similar vein, with 34 out of Nigeria’s 46 solid mineral deposits in Benue, we are on the verge of becoming a mining powerhouse. In view, we have partnered with Sound Core to clean up and develop the mining sector, projecting 3.5 billion Naira in revenue through our annual surface rent scheme.

17.​While tackling illegal mining and educating communities on the legal benefits, our administration in collaboration with the Federal Government, has formed the Mineral Resource and Environmental Management Committee, to protect resources and manage community conflicts.

18.​Meanwhile, we have revitalized government assets, including the Benue Investment and Property Company (BIPC) Kaduna Plaza, as well as the Guest Houses in Kaduna and Makurdi towns respectively. While transitioning to digital operations for better service delivery, we have also commissioned a BIPC bakery and water factory, and launched the Emperor Fertilizer and Motorcycle Hire Scheme, all domiciled in the State.

19.​My esteemed people of Benue, as you recall, when we came on board, our industries were moribund, with many on the brink of being taken over by private hands. We however, said a firm ‘no’ to the glorified wisdom of the last administration that “Government has no business in doing business”.

20.​Today, I proudly inform you that we have initiated the re-establishment and resuscitation of these industries, including Benue Breweries, Taraku Oil Mills, amongst others. This aims at creating more job opportunities for our teeming youths, as well as improving our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

21.​In the area of infrastructure and environment, in the bid to enhance movement of people, goods and services, we commenced the construction of 16 strategic roads in Makurdi and other parts of the State, particularly linking our rural communities. 98% of these roads have been completed, while others are still under construction.

22.​In total, our administration has awarded 51 road projects within just one year, including three underpass projects in Makurdi, Gboko, and Otukpo Local Government Areas, respectively.

23.​In addition, the ‘Light Up Makurdi’ project, extending from Agan Toll Gate to the Air Force Base and other parts of Makurdi, is now a reality and will be expanded to other parts of the State as we step into another year of our tenure. 

24.​We have also renovated and furnished the State Secretariat. We have reconstructed the Benue State House of Assembly Complex, and remodeled the Assembly Clinic.

25.​In the transport sector, the rejuvenation of the state-owned Benue Links Transport Company is another milestone. We have handed 100 new buses to the Company, and subsidized the cost of transportation. We have also upgraded the Company’s headquarters to meet global best standards.

26.​In health and social development, our administration was the first in Nigeria to implement the Revised Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) 2023, at the revised rate. 

27.​We also re-introduced the Bond Scheme for medical students of Benue origin studying medicine, by approving the monthly payment of N103,000 per student. This is coupled with the approval of N100,000 monthly allowances for doctor-corps members serving in the State; as well as N15,000 as monthly allowances for other corps members posted here.

28.​Meanwhile, we have overhauled the Benue State University Teaching Hospital to meet international standards. We have also employed 500 new staff on merit, to augment the workforce.

29.​Our administration has also commenced full clinical services at the Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital, Makurdi, to reduce maternal mortality and offer free medical services to women and children under the age of five. Meanwhile, plans are underway to ensure an effective primary healthcare delivery system in the state.

30.​In the aspect of security of lives and property, one of our most prioritized missions has been to ensure that our people, who have been displaced by marauders, can return safely to their ancestral homes. We have therefore initiated the process by lobbying the Federal Government to begin the construction of resettlement homes for our people. 

31.​More so, our administration, in collaboration with security agencies and relevant stakeholders, has been working round the clock to ensure that Benue is a safe haven for all.

32.​Although this task has been challenging, the impact so far has been very encouraging. For instance, we have nipped in the bud almost all the inter-ethnic/community skirmishes that were prevalent before and after we came into office.

33.​Also, farmer/herder crisis and militia attacks have been contained through both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches. And we are determined to lose no sleep until we totally secure our dear State. 

34.​We have also signed into law, the establishment of a state security outfit known as the Benue State Civil Protection Guards: A formidable force combining our Livestock Guards and Volunteer Guards to effectively tackle insecurity in our dear state. 

35.​ My good people of Benue, make no mistakes about the misinformation making the rounds that the Anti-open Grazing Law has been repealed. As a matter of fact, the Law has been strengthened with more stringent stipulations.

36.​Let me use this opportunity to salute all security agencies and formations domiciled in the state, for their priceless sacrifices towards the protection of lives and property. To all volunteers of information, logistics and other efforts towards securing Benue, we are truly grateful.

37.​In the education sector, our administration has made great strides towards repositioning it, right from the primary to tertiary level.

38.​For instance, as part of palliatives for the removal of fuel subsidy, our administration decided to pay for the 2023/2024 examination fees of all students in government approved public secondary schools in the state sitting for the West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO), and National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) examinations, respectively.

39.​At the Benue State University, we have expanded academic programmes, established new faculties, restored scholarships for medical students, and paid outstanding salary arrears. We have upgraded the ICT facilities, preparing over 10,000 youths for the global market. The idea is to train over 60,000 youths. 

40.​As a proof of our zeal towards re-writing the narrative of the education sector in Benue, we allocated 15% of the 2024 budget to education, surpassing the 7% at the Federal level. We have also trained over 150 headteachers, and distributed over 100,000 instructional materials across public schools in the state to enhance teaching and learning.

41.​This is coupled with the establishment of the Benue State Education Quality Assurance Agency (BEQA), saddled with the responsibility of daily monitoring and evaluation of all schools across the State, with the aim of improving the standard and qualityof education, as well as reawakening teachers and staff to their responsibilities.

42. This has so far yielded huge results, notably being the recent clinching of an international debate trophy in Indonesia, by four Benue secondary school students who represented Nigeria.

43.​Benue under my watch, has also weeded out thousands of ghost workers, ghost schools, and ghost agencies out of our payroll. We have gone further to cut off all leakages and conduits of inefficient money consuming channels obtainable in the past.

44.​Let it be on record that our administration has borrowed no dime since we came on board. And we shall only do so only when it becomes extremely necessary. Prudence in governance must know us and call us by name.

45.​Meanwhile, it is no longer news that improved staff welfare, prompt payment of salaries and pensions/gratuities, as well as arrears, is now a mainstay under my watch. And so shall it continue to be.

46.​Fellow Benue citizens, I can go on and on for hours, giving you a factual account of our achievements, your achievements in the last one year. However, for want of time, I have only drawn up this summary of our journey so far.

47.​I reserve special thanks to all members of my team for their unsung sacrifices in the quest for a better Benue; and to all of you for your support and belief in us.

48.​As a government of popular consent, I am mindful of the honour and trust bestowed on me. For this, I have pushed sleep and comfort to the backseat to ensure that I live up to the expectations and terms of our social contract. 

49.​Throughout this period, I have earned nothing close to love from those whose selfish interests I step upon to bring you comfort, happiness, and succour. But too high I place your interest above theirs, hence I have no regrets for what I have lost in the cause of this journey. 

50.​As we mark Democracy Day celebrations, I hereby restate my commitment towards re-writing the socio-economic narrative of our dear state. 

51.​I am forever committed to building formidable systems and institutions premised on fairness, accountability, democratic ethos, equity and justice; systems that are bigger and stronger than individuals including my humble self.

52.​I am counting on your continued support to our administration, so that together, we can reposition Benue on the global map.

53.​My vow is to always stand with you, by you, and always for you.​

54.​Thank you, and God bless!

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Business Analysis

The Imperative of CBN’s Autonomy

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By Ibrahim Modibbo 

Under globalization and multi-cultural settings such as ours, Nigerians are under no illusion to the enormity of the myriad of challenges confronting the President Bola Tinubu Administration. In my opinion, anxiety and trepidation seems to trial the move by the National Assembly, to amend the provisions of the CBN Act of 2007.

Industry watchers and members of the banking community fear that the attempt to amend the Act will erode confidence in the apex bank, have a negative impact on the banking industry and ultimately, affect the nation’s economy.

In the dynamic landscape of global economics, the independence of central banks stands as a cornerstone for maintaining sound macroeconomic stability and fostering confidence in financial markets.

Across all major world economies, from the United States of America, United Kingdom, the developed Asian economies to the European Union, this principle is upheld as a vital aspect of prudent economic management. However, recent proposed amendments to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act by the Nigerian Senate threaten to erode this independence or autonomy, putting Nigeria at odds with global best practices and jeopardizing its economic stability going forward. In this piece, we shall examine the critical reasons why preserving the autonomy of the CBN is imperative for Nigeria’s economic future.

It is crucial that we fully understand and appreciate the significance of maintaining the Central Bank’s independence. An independent central bank is critical for ensuring that monetary policy is conducted without political interference. This autonomy allows central banks to implement policies that focus on long-term economic health, such as controlling inflation, stabilizing the currency, and promoting sustainable economic growth. In major economies, central bank independence has been instrumental in achieving these goals. The Federal Reserve in the United States, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England all operate independently of their respective governments, ensuring that monetary policy decisions are based on available economic data and analysis rather than political whims.

While commendably the idea of the proposed amendments to the CBN Act aim to enhance compliance and strengthen corporate governance, some of the key aspects pose significant threats to the bank’s autonomy. One of such proposal is the creation of a Coordinating Committee for Monetary and Fiscal Policies. This committee, dominated by fiscal authorities including the Ministry of Finance, would have a considerable influence on monetary policy decisions. Such an arrangement risks subordinating monetary policy to fiscal objectives, undermining the CBN’s ability to achieve its primary mandate of price stability in the economy. Apparently, this is a step in the wrong direction in the management of the Nigerian economy.

Fiscal policy, which is the cardinal responsibility or primary function of the Ministry of Finance, encompasses a range of activities related to government spending and taxation. This policy area involves the allocation of government resources, management of public funds, and implementation of tax regulations, all aimed at influencing the country’s economic conditions positively. While the effective coordination between fiscal and monetary policy is desirable, giving fiscal authorities dominance over the CBN compromises the bank’s ability to act independently. This fiscal dominance could lead to short-term policy decisions that prioritize immediate fiscal needs over long-term economic stability. For instance, the government might pressure the CBN to keep interest rates artificially low to reduce borrowing costs, even if such a policy could lead to higher inflation and other economic vulnerabilities.

Another alarming aspect of the current amendment process at the hallowed precincts of the Nigerian Senate pertains to the insistence on subjecting the Central Bank of Nigeria’s yearly budget to approval by the National Assembly. This proposed measure raises significant apprehensions regarding the potential politicization and interference in the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The approval process could result in undue delays of monetary policy decisions, hindering the CBN’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to economic challenges. In an environment where rapid decision-making is often essential, this could prove detrimental to Nigeria’s economic health.

Global best practices emphasize the need for central bank independence to ensure economic stability and investor confidence. Across the world today, major and emerging economies adopt this framework to ensure a situation of a more stable and predictable economic environments. For Nigeria to diverge from this path would not only isolate it from the global business community but also undermine investor confidence, leading to potential capital flight, increased borrowing costs from multilateral institutions, and a general loss of economic credibility as well as downward grading by global rating organizations.

The proposed amendments, particularly the inclusion of the Coordinating Committee for Monetary and Fiscal Policies, represent a concerning shift towards fiscal dominance. This committee’s role in determining interest rates on the CBN’s temporary advances to the federal government is especially problematic. With the committee chaired by the Minister of Finance as proposed in the current amendment and ostensibly dominated by fiscal authorities, there is a clear conflict of interest. Such a structure inherently favors fiscal objectives over monetary prudence, jeopardizing the delicate balance and the thin line required for sound macroeconomic management. The CBN should rather be encouraged to foster effective prudential guidelines in management of its advances to the federal government as enshrined in the current Act.

The potential for political interference in the CBN’s operations extends beyond the management of the monetary policy. It threatens the very fabric of Nigeria’s economic governance. An autonomous central bank acts as a check on government excesses, ensuring that fiscal policy does not compromise long-term economic stability. By undermining the institutional and operational autonomy, the proposed amendments risk eroding this safeguard and shield, potentially leading to economic policies driven by political rather than economic considerations.

While the Nigerian Senate’s intentions to amend the CBN Act may stem from a desire to enhance governance and performance by the apex, the proposed measures threaten to undermine the very foundation of effective economic management. Eroding the CBN’s autonomy not only contradicts global best practices but also risks plunging Nigeria into a cycle of political interference and economic quagmire.

It is therefore imperative that the Senate reconsider some key aspects of these amendments as enunciated here, preserving the CBN’s independence as a cornerstone of Nigeria’s economic policy framework. Only by doing so can Nigeria ensure a stable, predictable, and resilient economic future, in line with global standards and best practices. The nation’s economic health and international standing depend on it.

While admitting that some of the proposed amendments to the CBN Act are commendable as they are designed to entrench the culture of compliance, strengthen corporate governance, and reposition the apex bank for improved performance in attaining its mandate, most analysts however, say some of the major proposed amendments to the CBN Act appear to erode the bank’s autonomy and weaken the independence of monetary policy, at variance with international best practices. 

For example, the proposed coordinating committee for monetary and fiscal policies concerning monetary policy in their opinion will undermine the apex bank’s independence and capacity in achieving its price stability mandate, including fiscal and monetary policy coordination as well as undermining the CBN’s operational independence and weaken the apex bank’s flexibility in deploying appropriate policy frameworks in a dynamic economic environment to achieving its core mandate.

Similarly, the proposed amendment to the CBN Act by the lawmakers will promote undue political interference in purely economic matters, as the fiscal authority would dominate the proposed committee’s membership and chairmanship. Subjecting the CBN’s budget to National Assembly approval will also undermine its institutional autonomy and introduce the potential for political interference in monetary policy which could lead to significant delays in monetary policy implementation and hinder swift monetary policy responses with potential negative implications for macro-economic stability.

According to Dr. Williams Puye an economic and financial expert, some of the proposed amendments threaten the independence and operational autonomy of the CBN as the country’s monetary authority. He asserted that the inclusion of the coordinating committee for monetary and fiscal policies in determining the rates of interest on the apex bank’s temporary advances to the federal government will not only erode the bank’s operational autonomy, but also breed conflict of interest since the committee is chaired by the minister and dominated by fiscal actors.

The now controversial amendment bill to the CBN Act is sponsored by Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru and co-sponsored by all 41 senators of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions and proposes the establishment of a 7-member coordinating committee for monetary and fiscal policies to be chaired by the minister of finance, to among other things set internally consistent targets of monetary and fiscal policies that are conducive to controlling inflation and promoting financial conditions for sustainable economic growth.

It sets the tenure of the CBN Governor and Deputy Governors at a single non-renewable term of six years, appointment of a minimum of one career staff of the bank in the committee of governors, the appointment of at least one female among the External Directors as a Board member, that the five external directors should hold office for a non-renewable term of five years (one year less than the six-year tenure of the governor and deputy governors.

The amendment further proposes the establishment of the position of chief compliance officer in the rank of a Deputy governor, who reports directly to the Board and may occasionally be summoned to appear before the relevant committee of the National Assembly, limit temporary advances to the federal government, including modalities for the issuance of new legal tender to replace existing ones, providing that the withdrawal of the old legal tender should be carried out in phases and in a manner that does not cause any distortion to economic activities, while the apex bank should be in possession of sufficient new currency, not less than 70 percent of the old stock of currency to be withdrawn before embarking on such a programme.

In the area of Board governance, based on the fact that the CBN governor also serves as the Board chairman, the bill proposes that the board committees should be headed by non-executive directors instead of the deputy governors. The bill further proposes to amend the paid-up capital of CBN to N1trillion and that this figure may be increased from time to time by such amount as the government may approve either by way of transfers from the general reserve fund or by such other means as the government, in consultation with the board may approve. 

Another notable provision of the bill states that the CBN governor must appears on a semi-annual basis whilst the National Assembly in the exercise of its constitutional duties should reserve the power to invite the governor to make presentations from time to time as the need arises. It also proposes the publishing of a monetary policy report and an interim financial report every six months that should be submitted to the president and the National Assembly within one month of the reference period. 

It adds that where the governor fails to make a report to the president and the National Assembly as required by law, he shall be served with a warning letter by the National Assembly and if the failure persists, by a recommendation from the National Assembly for the governor’s suspension from office by the president. 

Most significantly, the bill proposes that the budget approved by the CBN board can only be implemented upon the consideration and approval of the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

It goes without saying that safeguarding the independence of the Central Bank of Nigeria is crucial for maintaining the country’s overall economic stability and fostering investor confidence with a good mix of monetary policy tools. The proposed amendments to the CBN Act, particularly those that threaten the bank’s autonomy, must be reconsidered to ensure Nigeria’s economic future remains secure and safe. The Nigerian Senate must be careful not to exacerbate the current economic woes in the country. Hence, by upholding the principle of central bank independence, Nigeria can align itself with global best practices and ensure a stable and prosperous economic environment for its citizens now and in the future.

Dr. Modibbo is an Abuja based Journalist & Commentator on National Issues

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Share The Agege Local Government in Lagos State has suspended food vendors in schools in the area as a way...

NEWS43 mins ago

Kaduna Records 307 New Cases of HIV/ AIDS — Official

ShareThe Kaduna State Aids Control Agency(KADSACA) on Friday said it has recorded 307 new HIV cases in the state. Acting...

NEWS51 mins ago

Enugu State Govt. Approves N44m Bursaries for 294 Law Students

Share Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu State, has approved N44.1 million as bursaries for 294 indigenes of the state currently...

Health55 mins ago

Burna Boy Did not Pay all UPTH patients’ Bills, Says Spokesperson

ShareThe University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) has faulted reports that musician, Burna Boy, covered all medical bills for...

NEWS59 mins ago

Nigeria Customs Generates N249b Within 5 Months in Rivers

Share The Nigeria Customs Service, Area 2 Command, Onne in Rivers, said it has generated more than N249 billion as...

NEWS1 hour ago

Troops Neutralise Several Bandits in Kaduna– Official

Share The Kaduna State Government (KDSG), said several bandits have been eliminated in another coordinated attack by the military in...

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