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Tinubu’s Bitter Pills, Nigeria and the Ides of May 29

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By Eddy Ochigbo 

The maxim that in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies – only permanent interests – was re-enforced on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Port Harcourt the Rivers state capital, at the inauguration of Rumuokwuta/Rumuola Flyover Bridge, when a smiling president-elect, Bola Amed Tinubu sat side by side with out-going governor of the state, Nyesome Wike.

Wike, a top notcher of the People’s Democratic Party and at some point widely acclaimed to be the sole financier of the PDP – the leading opposition party – is now hobnobbing and dancing with the leader of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The question on the lips of bewildered Nigerians is: has Wike, who once described the APC as cancerous, cross-carpeted to the APC?  Whether or not Wike’s political game plan would fetch him his heart desire in the murky waters of the current political dispensation remains to be seen. But Wike’s present romance with APC is a matter for another day. 

The bone of contention in this piece is the social contract between president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is expected to take to the turf as President Buhari’s successor come May 29, 2023. And given the enormous and gargantuan tasks before the incoming administration to restore the confidence of Nigerians by retrieving the country from the woods, following the damage done by the outgoing administration, Tinubu’s  victory is extremely unenviable. 

With a rising debt stock which has increasingly become a huge burden on Nigeria in the face of dwindling revenue and the unsustainable subsidy payments,  the incoming administration must adopt measures to increase the country’s revenue, tackle corruption and perhaps borrow from cheaper sources to cushion Nigeria’s debt portfolio.

 Recent statistics reveal poor performance and mounting government costs, making it evident that Nigeria is going through unprecedented debt crisis. Therefore, apart from other daunting challenges bedeviling the country, the huge debt remains the biggest task before the incoming government. The Buhari administration which came with the mantra of fighting corruption, reviving the economy and fighting insecurity, unfortunately, did the opposite, taking the country down the drain into bankruptcy.

The results of this negative trend is that the country is now home to about 133 million multidimensionally poor people, 37.7per cent of the citizens are unemployed as at 2022. This is estimated to rise further to 40.6 per cent in 2023, with nearly 25 million Nigerians said to be at risk of hunger between June and August of 2023. This is compounded by the rising public debt of N46.25 trillion and according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) by the time the incoming administration is sworn-in, a whooping N77 trillion debt will be awaiting it.

Worse still, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that debt servicing may gulp 100 per cent of the federal government’s revenue by 2026 if the government fails to implement adequate measures to improve revenue generation and provide critical infrastructure and amenities like healthcare services, education, power, roads and security, otherwise revenue will keep shrinking.

Another regrettable trend, is Nigeria’s fraudulent leadership recruitment process, the anti-climax of which was the 2023 general elections especially the Adamawa gubernatorial supplementary election. There is no better word to describe the treasonable action of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari, accompanied by senior security officers, and the unfortunate and dramatic acceptance speech by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress APC, Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani, other than a failed civilian coup d’etat. Outside the nagging varied manifestation of insecurity across the country, this can be ranked among the top threats to our wobbling democracy since the beginning of the fourth republic. 

This is a coup d’etat for the single reason that a group of non-state and state actors conspired to go against section 1, sub-section 2, of the 1999 Constitution and the provision of the 2022 Election Act to capture power with the cover of high ranking security officers. To give this in proper context, it is a coup d’etat – “a seizure and removal of a government and its powers”. Typically, it is an illegal seizure of power by a political faction. 

This reminds us of the dark days of our political history, which was littered with both successful and failed military coup d’etat, not without the active connivance of civilian politicians and foreign backers. The first coup d’etat in Nigeria was in January, 1966, followed by a counter coup in July 1966, others were in 1975, 1983, 1985 and 1993. In between there were two failed coups in 1976 and 1990 and a number of high profile serving and former military officers at different times were arrested and imprisoned for alleged coup plotting. To this end, Nigeria is yet to recover from the post traumatic impact of the coup d’etas and the resultant authoritarian rule that followed.

The difference this time around is that the failed coup d’etat in the supplementary gubernatorial elections in Adamawa was led by civil politicians with the backing of uniform men. This goes to show that our politicians have learnt a lot in the art and science of coup d’etat from their military friends. Except for the unpretentious way the machiavellian drama in Adamawa played out, it is safe to say that since the return of democracy, the politicians have been carrying out coup de tats  through rigging. They have always employed extra-legal means to usurp the electorate’s right of choice and mandate by conniving with electoral and security officials and using violence, vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing among others.

The inordinate ambition of many of politicians has turned elections into a do or die affair. They have instituted a system which has made elections a zerosome game, with the winner taking all, while the loser is left to scavenge till the next election. Greedy politicians have reduced governance to personal interest rather than public service. And as long as governance remains a private enterprise for primitive accumulation of wealth and dividends only reaped by families, friends, aides and associates to the detriment of the mandate givers, so long will the country continue to grope in the dark.This has unfortunately provided the motivation for heightened desperation to capture power at all cost, including killing innocent persons. 

In recognition that the process that brought many of them to office lack legitimacy, they feel no obligation to consult or be accountable to the electorate in the governance process. No wonder, we have a lot of wealthy men without any productive enterprise contributing to the economy, except that they serve as fronts to elected and appointed public officials in siphoning public funds mostly through inflated contracts, backdoor deals and money laundering. 

The embattled REC who plotted a failed coup in Adamawa, could not have attempted to go against the constitution arrogantly without the backing from above as senior security officers accompanied him to the scene, thereby making mockery of the legacy of those who sacrificed their lives for the enthronement of democracy in the country. Even now, it is not enough to arrest the REC, but to demonstrate to Nigerians that the failed coup d’etat was not an elite conspiracy by actors in government.  Backers of such show of shame must be immediately fished out and prosecuted. 

It is commendable that the incumbent governor and Governor-elect, of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, has publicly stated that he will push for the prosecution of the REC, since the foiled coup happened under his jurisdiction. However, this must go  beyond political rhetorics. This heinous crime against the Nigerian people and assault on the constitution should not be swept under the carpet, like many others before it. 

Nigerians must realize that there is a correlation between how a leader emerges and the quality or otherwise of governance he or she will deliver. A leader that usurps the people’s mandate will see himself as an emperor that the people should serve. Introduction of more technology, reforms or amendment of the Electoral Act will not be enough to sanitize our electoral process. Therefore, declaring election rigging a treasonable felony will be a major deterrent to desperate politicians.

Equally important is the need to drastically reduce the cost of governance, improve fiscal transparency and accountability as well as public monitoring of the procurement process. This will remove the incentive that feeds the desperation for the political elite to capture power. 

Given Nigeria’s current woes and with barely a month to the inauguration of a new administration, a good number of Nigerians and keen watchers have expressed apprehension about what lies ahead. These fears owe much to the troubling economic crisis facing the country, exacerbated by high rate of unemployment and rising cost of living.

Yet, the planned removal of fuel subsidy looms large. However, supporters and sympathizers of the president-elect argue that there is nothing to fear because according to them, the President-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu possesses the magic wand to turn things around, given his antecedents in Lagos as a two-term governor. Posterity would indeed hold this man of the moment, Tinubu, in high esteem if he reverses the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria and give the suffering masses a renewed hope and a meaning.

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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OPINION

Nemesis as Shord Distance Runner

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By Tunde Olusunle

When he flung Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, (SLS) out of the window of the Emir’s palace in Kano four years ago, Abdullahi Ganduje would have least imagined what is playing out today.
Ganduje was the “Lord of the Manor” in Kano State, the all-powerful chief executive.

Recall video clips of Ganduje allegedly stuffing wads and packs of crisp, mint-fresh dollar bills into the bottomless pocket of his *babanriga* ahead of the 2019 general elections.

They were reportedly gifted to him by some contractor ally of the erstwhile Kano governor who was repaying a good turn. Graphic and unassailable as that short motion picture was, former President Muhammadu Buhari who rode into office on the camelback of now suspect integrity in 2015, volunteered a baffling defence for Ganduje.

He swore Ganduje was most probably participating in a *Kannywood* movie, the way the film industry up North is described. Buhari who has never been known to operate a tablet, nay a notepad, suggested that advanced technology could actually simulate what we all saw in that short clip! 

Ganduje was the prototype  *alagbara ma m’ero* as we say in Yoruba. This interpretes as the “maximally muscular, minimally reasonable.” He fought a few other prominent Kano leaders during his heydays in Government House. Recall he carried his unabated squabbles with one of his predecessors, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to the State House, Aso Villa, during the early weeks of the Bola Tinubu government. Told on one occasion that Kwankwaso was in a particular section of Aso Rock same time as he was in the complex, a vexed Ganduje said Kwankwaso should consider himself fortunate.

He said he, Ganduje would have slapped Kwankwaso if he sighted him in the Villa! That would have caused a scene in Nigeria’s seat of power. I’m now just imagining how Tinubu would be trying to restrain Ganduje, in the forecourt of the office of the President, while Vice President Kashim Shettima will be pulling at Kwankwaso’s *agbada* in a bid to manage the situation.

Ganduje reportedly considered Sanusi too independent-minded and outspoken for a natural ruler. Sanusi was governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), before being appointed Emir in 2014. He had always had a radical streak about him which culminated in his suspension as CBN head in 2014 for blowing the whistle on the theft of $20 Billion in accruals from crude oil sales. As Emir he considered aspects of the religious and cultural practices of his emirate repugnant.

He opposed the “ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam” in some parts of northern Nigeria, which discouraged girl-child education, family planning, even inoculation against potential healthcare afflictions. He had reservations about the style of Ganduje as governor and didn’t put a veil over his dislike for the return of Ganduje to Government House in 2019. 

He believed Ganduje shouldn’t have made it back if the poll was fairly and transparently conducted. March 9, 2020, Ganduje upended Sanusi. He was accused of negatively impacting the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige of the Kano emirate, and disrespecting the governor’s office. He was also alleged to have disposed of property belonging to the state and the misappropriated of the proceeds.

It was a case of digging several manholes for a prey in a bid to ensure he falls into one of the several traps. He was summarily banished to Nasarawa State for effect. Sanusi sought reprieve in the courts which ruled it was an overkill to fling him to a remote community faraway from his family and more accustomed home in Lagos. Within a few days, Nasir El Rufai, Sanusi’s longstanding friend who was governor of Kaduna State, personally enforced the evacuation of Sanusi from Awe local government area in Nasarawa State. 

For whatever his contributions were to the emergence of Tinubu as president after the 2023 polls, Ganduje believed he would be compensated with a ministerial slot in the former’s regime. Like Nyesom Wike, David Umahi, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, Atiku Bagudu, Simon Lalong, former governors of Rivers, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kebbi and Plateau states, Ganduje dusted his curriculum vitae to pitch for a slot on Tinubu’s federal executive council. His five colleagues in the “2015 – 2019- 2023 class of governors” made the cut, not Ganduje. Tinubu spontaneously made him chairman of the All Progressives Congress, (APC], the vehicle which delivered him as president. Abdullahi Adamu his predecessor and former governor of Nasarawa State was, as has become standard practice in Nigeria’s notorious political rule book, schemed out and compelled to resign from office. 

If Ganduje ever thought his chairmanship of the APC was going to be a walk in the park, he was thoroughly mistaken. Indeed, he’s grossed sufficient experience in his present office to know that there are sharp differences between wholesale insulation in Government House, and the inevitable overexposure of party leadership. Last April, a faction of the APC in Ganduje’s primary “Ganduje ward” in *Dawakin Tofa* local government area of his home state, Kano, suspended him from the party. Haladu Gwanjo, legal adviser of Ganduje’s ward led some party leaders to pronounce the suspension.

They advocated the return of the national chairmanship of the APC to the north central zone, where Ganduje’s predecessor, Adamu, hails from. The young Turks canvassed due process in party administration, consistent with the “renewed hope” mantra of the APC. Ganduje made a hurried recourse to the law courts for momentary reprieve. 
Thursday May 23, 2024, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was reinstated as Emir of Kano by Ganduje’s successor in Kano State, Abba Yusuf. His cousin and successor, Aminu Ado-Bayero, was unceremoniously removed from office.

The splinter emirates created by Ganduje in his bid to whittle down Sanusi’s authority as prime monarch in Kano, were similarly dissolved. The edifice which Ganduje built four years ago was apparently built of straw and spittle. Governor Abba Yusuf is a product of the *Kwankwasiya* political tendency in Kano politics, a creation of Rabiu Kwankwaso. Those who know a little about Nigerian politics will recall that Kwankwaso’s emergence in our politics, predates the fourth republic.

He was an ardent student of the *talakawa* political orientation, pioneered by the venerable Kano-born leader, Aminu Kano. Kwankwaso was Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives of the Ibrahim Babangida political experimentation of 1992 to 1993. 

Whereas the *Kwankwasiya* movement had long been entrenched, it was not until the run-up to the 2023 elections that Kwankwaso adopted a new platform, the Nigeria National People’s Party, (NNPP), on which he is espousing the populist philosophy of the *Kwankwasiya* brigade. Abba Yusuf rode to office on the back of this invention. It was the same way Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu the famous *Biafran* war lord, established the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) in Anambra State.

The party has remained a force in the politics of the state and indeed the south east. It has produced three Anambra governors in succession, notably Peter Obi, Willie Obiano and the incumbent Chukwuma Soludo. 

Abba Yusuf has made no pretences about his disdain for Ganduje and everything he represents. Much as some of Yusuf’s early actions in office were generally perceived as wasteful, he nonetheless brought down as many edifices in Kano as bore the imprimatur of Ganduje.

The “Kano golden jubilee roundabout” built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of Kano State and structures built inside the *filin sukuwa,* (Kano race course), were hewn on Yusuf’s orders. The *hajj camp* which was reportedly bastardised by Ganduje who allegedly parcelled parts of it to his friends and associates was equally felled. There were suggestions that the value of the demolitions carried out by Yusuf could be in excess of N200Billion. Such is the anti-Ganduje sentiment in contemporary Kano State. 

The way and manner the legacies of Abdullahi Ganduje are unravelling in Kano State should serve as a lesson to the shortsighted, incapable of seeing beyond the bridges of their nose. History is replete with the deconstruction of many leaders after their rulership and indeed keeps repeating itself in our sociopolitical experience. Those who are not circumspect, however, are too distracted by the allure and bliss of their immediate office, to think.

They continue to drift, blunder and flounder, unmindful that time is their ultimate nemesis. Ganduje is just one year out of office, yet many of the decisions he made while in power for eight years are being unmade and thrown at his face like rotten tomatoes. 

Until I joined him on the table he was seated at a wedding reception we both attended in Lagos a few weeks back, Rotimi Amaechi, governor of the oil-affluent Rivers State for eight years and Transportation Minister for another eight years was a lonely man.

It turned out we flew back to Abuja on the same flight same evening after the event and sat not too far from each other. He opened the overhead locker atop his seat to bring out his luggage himself. Is anyone following the Yahaya Bello saga? He mindlessly trampled upon the hapless heads of his constituents in Kogi State for eight unbroken years? He left office last January and life has not been the same again. He has been declared wanted by at least one anti-graft agency. He will be arraigned in the rectangular, wood-panelled cubicle of the courtroom in a fortnight. A lesson for all. 

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)
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