Two bills are currently pending in the two chambers of the National Assembly seeking to take away the statutory autonomy being enjoyed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The first bill is a proposal by the Senate aimed at compelling the bank to, henceforth, submit its annual budget for consideration by the parliamentarians in order to facilitate fiscal transparency and accountability.
The second one, which has already passed its second reading in the lower chamber, seeks to amend sections of the CBN Act of 2007 which confer operational independence on the bank. The intention here is to allow the lawmakers, rather than the president, exercise the responsibility of appointing the governor and board members of the apex bank.
Even as lame as the reason advanced for the Senate’s proposal sounds, the apparent absence of one from the lower legislature to justify its intention only smacks of reckless vendetta.
Not long ago, the CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, had, while on summons before a committee of the Assembly, revealed that over 25 per cent of the national budget is spent on the remunerations of the federal legislators and in servicing the National Assembly.
Naturally, the distinguished members would hear no such heresy. Certainly not one said direct to their faces and on their own very turf, too. What to do? They promptly fired back at Sanusi and his bank staff, accusing them of equally gulping so much from the nation’s annual returns.
And with this unsavoury setting began the lawmakers’ relentless plot to reach for the CBN governor’s jugular and perhaps, unwittingly, the nation’s already aching wind pipe.
In spite of what the excuses may be, most analysts believe that the moves by the National Assembly members to strip the CBN of its autonomy are motivated by sheer political considerations rather than economic expediency. They, therefore, fear that this has the tendency to reduce, if not reverse, whatever successes that may have been achieved through the ongoing banking sector reforms undertaken by the CBN.
Political control of the central bank will be most ill-advised for any country that is keen to attract international investments. It is even more so for Nigeria at this time when the CBN is making a success of macroeconomic stability, essentially through the adept management of its monetary policy instruments.
State control of the CBN will not be in consonance with global best practices as Sanusi reportedly pointed out at a recent public hearing on the Senate bill. According to him, a recent study conducted by his staff on the acts establishing the central banks of 40 countries, including the US, China and South Africa showed Zimbabwe as the only case where parliament approved a central bank’s budget. Of course, everybody knows where such has led the country’s economy.
In some situations, and as was the case in this Southern African nation, a central bank which is controlled by politicians runs the risk of being compelled to abuse its powers to print the local currency if only to help finance the country’s budget deficits, especially in an election year.
The central bank’s supervisory role over commercial banks and other financial institutions will be compromised if politicians or their proxies become board members of such a regulatory authority. This is because most of them are already on the boards of these other institutions and would readily want to intervene in matters that adversely affect such organisations.
But come to think of it, the same federal lawmakers who are clamouring to check the CBN’s fiscal excesses are the very ones whose rank is replete with men and women who are currently being investigated for one financial misdemeanor or the other. Haba!
CBN Releases N756bn To Over 3m Farmers To Boost Food Security
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it has released the sum of N756.51 billion to 3,734,938 small holder farmers, cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, to boost the Federal Government’s food security initiative.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, made this known while presenting a communiqué from the bank’s recently held, 280th meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
Emefiele said that N120.24 billion of the sum was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
“The sum of N121.57 billion was disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries.
“For the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), N318.17 billion was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs),’’ he said.
Emefiele revealed that the apex bank also expended huge sums in its youth investment scheme, to empower Nigerian youths, and to reduce unemployment by providing to the creative sector and Information Technology.
“Under the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), the Bank released N3.0 billion to 7,057 beneficiaries, of which 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs.
“Under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), N3.22 billion was disbursed to 356 5 beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, software development, fashion, and IT verticals,’’ he said.
The CBN Governor also revealed that the apex bank had invested close to N1trillion to boost the real sector of the economy, covering 251 real sector projects.
He said that the bank’s intervention also spanned health sector support initiatives and electricity distribution.
“Under the N1.0 trillion Real Sector Facility, the Bank released N923.41 billion to 251 real sector projects, of which 87 were in light manufacturing, 40 in agro-based industry, 32 in services and 11 in mining.
“On the N100 billion, Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF), N98.41 billion was disbursed for 103 health care projects, of which, 26 are pharmaceuticals and 77 are in the hospital services.
“Similarly, the sum of N232.54 million was disbursed to five beneficiaries under the CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention (Grant) Scheme (HSRDIS) for the development of testing kits and devices for COVID-19 and Lassa Fever.
“On the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), N36.04 billion was disbursed to 17 Meter Asset Providers to nine Distribution Companies (DisCos), for the procurement and installation of 657,562 electricity meters,’’ Emefiele said.
Siat Assures Host Communities Of Fair Deal … Offers 15 Varsity Students Scholarships
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility to its host communities, an agro-allied company located in Rivers State, Siat Nigeria Limited, has assured that it would continue to cater for the wellbeing and needs of the indigenes of the communities where it is doing business even as it has offered undergraduate scholarship awards to 15 students from the areas.
The company, which gave the assurance during the presentation of scholarship awards to the students at its corporate headquarters in Ubima Community in Ikwerre Local Government Area recently, said it would continue to promote a harmonious working relationship with its host communities and strive as much as possible to contribute to their growth and development.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Felix Nwabuko, who gave the indication in an address during the company’s this year’s undergraduate scholarship programme, said the scholarship initiative is just one of the corporate social responsibility lined up by the company for its host communities.
According to him, the university scholarship award is intended to assist and encourage students of the host communities in the areas of Agriculture, Agricultural Economics, Accounting and Engineering.
While congratulating the beneficiary students on their success during the scholarship examination, Nwabuko noted that they are by this award, ambassadors of not only their communities but Siat Nigeria Limited, and urged them to exhibit good behaviour throughout the duration of their university education.
“It is our fervent belief that the beneficiaries will avail themselves of this singular opportunity and study hard to become good citizens of not only the communities they came from but the society at large”, he said.
Nwabuko commended the government at both the state and local levels for providing the enabling environment for the company’s operations as well as the peace the firm has enjoyed from the host communities.
He noted with delight that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and its associated harsh economic effects, Siat Nigeria Limited did not lay off its workers like other companies including banks, stressing that it was because the company took into consideration the excellent relationship and goodwill it has with the host communities.
The beneficiaries of the scholarship were drawn from the company’s Ubima and Elele estates.
The first round of the scholarship programme took place in 2016 and the beneficiaries, according to the company, have all graduated.
By: Donatus Ebi
AKK Project Will Enhance Gas Utilisation For Industrialisation – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari says successful completion of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK Project in 2023 would enhance domestic gas utilisation as the mainstay for national industrialisation.
Buhari stated this at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Gas Sector Stakeholders (AKK) Forum organised by the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN) yesterday in Kano.
He was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
“Today’s event reinforces our commitments to realizing the inherent potentials of gas usage as a national catalyst for achieving economic diversification from crude oil and as transition period to the renewable energy,” he said.
He revealed that the project would also increase government revenue and create more jobs opportunities for the unemployed Nigerians.
The President said that many companies had been shut down due to power supply problem across the country.
He explained that it would take two to three years to reactivate those industries to their optimal performance.
Buhari also said that the Federal Government has reduced the price of gas from 2 dollars 50 cents to 2 dollars 18 Cents.
“Let me use this medium to announce that following successful negotiations between Federal Government of Nigeria and organized unions, the price of gas has been reduced from $2.50 Cents to $2.18 Cents, with immediate effects,” he said.
He said that all the relevant stakeholders had been communicated on the issue.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, said that the AKK project had been on the drawing board for the past 30 years.
Kyari said when completed, it would provide enough gas for both domestic and export purposes.
“Nigeria has huge gas resources, gas means prosperity and delivering gas is an opportunity creation,” he said.
He pointed out that the project would revive about 232 industries along AKK corridor.
In his remarks, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado-Bayero, commended the Federal Government for the project, which he said, would also assist to enhance socioeconomic activities in the state.
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