From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday initiated moves to remove the Governor of the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) as chairman of board of the apex bank.
The CBN Act No. 7 of 2007 makes any incumbent Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to also serve as chairman of its board.
The Senate, through a bill sponsored by Umar Sadiq Suleiman, which scaled second reading, is seeking for appointment of a person other than a sitting CBN Governor to be the chairman of the board.
The Senate in the bill, also seeks to divest the board of CBN, powers of determining and fixing salaries and allowances of its members and considering and approving the annual budget of the bank.
Umar in his lead debate on piece of legislation titled, “A bill for an Act to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act No. 7 of 2007 to enable the appointment of a person other than the Governor as the Chairmen of the board”, said apex banks across the globe have different persons as Chief Executive and chairman of board.
“This bill, as clearly stated, seeks to divest the Governor of CBN chairmanship of the Board as obtainable in other countries of the world.
“A different person with requisite qualification and required knowledge on monetary and financial policies , should be made Chairman of the Board.
“Separation of the two positions will enable any sitting CBN Governor to focus more on fiscal and monetary policies than politics of the Institution,” he said.
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Though a number of senators, including James Manager, Orji Uzor Kalu, Enyinnaya Abaribe, opposed the bill, counter submissions made by Jibrin Barau, Betty Apiafi, made the bill to scale second reading.
Apiafi in particular said the intended amendment was very necessary in view of the way the incumbent CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele , was branded as contestant for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in May, 2022.
“The CBN governor went out of his way to contest for presidency while in office in the 2022 presidential primary election.
“This would not happen anywhere in the world, given that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) materials were expected to be kept in the bank.
“Godwin Emefiele having attempted to contest presidency has made Nigerians to lose confidence in the bank storing the INEC materials,” she said .
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, however, cautioned senators to focus on the proposed amendment rather than dabbling into the alleged attempt by the CBN Governor to contest, as that wasn’t part of the general principles of the bill.
He, thereafter, put the bill to a voice vote for second reading, which secured the approval of majority of the senators. He thereafter mandated the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, to work on it and report back in four weeks.