The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has described as absurd the allegation that the Central Bank of Nigeria ((CBN), was not following due process in the printing of money to support government programmes.
This was even as he has accused the Civil Society Organisations of not doing enough to support in the Federal Government’s anti-corruption drive.
He made this known on the occasion of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Dialogue, held in Abuja where he was a special guest. The CBN claims on the Federal Government between December 2013 and April 2017 for instance, was quoted to have gone from N678 billion to N6.5 trillion ($1.8 billion to $17.3 billion), about 10-fold rise.
These “claims” are made up of overdrafts, treasury bills, converted bonds and other such lending.
The CBN in its recently published report, published the personal statements of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) members from the July meeting. The personal statement of Dr. Doyin Salami, a well-regarded member of the MPC noted for his straight talking, said the CBN was providing a “piggy-bank” service to the Federal Government.
But Osinbajo while responding to questions from about 70 CSOs present at the event said, “That is certainly false. I think it is very sad that that is being circulated. I think the whole idea that that the CBN is printing money to support government, is completely absurd. And the contest on which it was accredited to the person I think it was completely misunderstood.
“If you look at our M1, M2, the amount of money being circulated is within appropriate limits. And inflation has continued to go down month by month. Honestly if there is money out there way beyond limit then we should expect that inflation will begin to go up. But that is not the case. Of course, there has been a firm up on government borrowing and that is significant and we have been very upfront about what we are doing.
“The DMO is required to publish the debt profile of government regularly and only three weeks ago the last debt profile was published. The government has largely funded its activities through the treasury bills.
“There is no law that said the CBN should not intervene in agriculture, I personally believe that intervention are important especially in areas that government has funds. But how much has CBN expended? So far on the Anchors borrowers Programme it has expended N52 billion and that is not a significant amount of money, the budget is about N7 trillion.
“So the issue of printing money, I personally I think is absurd because if that was the case, let’s say there is plenty of naira, it will put pressure on foreign exchange.
“With respect to due process being followed or not being followed, I think we just need to have all the facts. What happens with contracts generally speaking is that contracts will go through a process and is approved by the President or the Federal Executive Council.
“But I do agree that there is a need for greater transparency with respects to governments contracts such that they have a website there these are published. For now what is required is that government contract goes through the BPE and must be published into two national dailies.”
Speaking on the CSOs not doing enough, he described as mazing that civil society is completely silence on the issues of corruption, adding that they are not demanding the prosecution of persons.
“There is not enough outrage from civil society on the anti-corruption war, they are not speaking up… this is an existential problem for Nigeria.”
According to him, the fight against corruption is not the responsibility of the government alone, but other stakeholders including the civil society groups and the citizens.
He said amid the calls for the restructuring of the country, nothing would be achieved if corruption was not tackled to the barest minimum.
“Over N15 billion unaccounted for and the campaign from CSOs remain silent. Even if we get the best of restructuring in place and not much been done in fighting corruption then, we wouldn’t have achieved anything,” he said.
Osinbajo further assured the CSOs that efforts are on by the government to reveal the amount of looted funds recovered so far.
“Very soon, we will make known how much has been recovered in terms of real estate as well as cash and owing to popular demand, we are considering naming infrastructure after the recovered funds so it would become clear how the monies are being spent.
“There is a CBN account designated for the purpose of stashing recovered funds and soon, the total amounts deposited will be made known,” Osinbajo said.
He hinted that the government was also making spirited efforts to return the remaining 113 schoolgirls abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram terrorists from Chibok community in Borno State.
Other issues discussed at the dialogue session with the vice president include rights violations, government promises on developmental issues, and the economy among others.
The convener, Clement Nwankwo, said since the annulment of June 12, 1993, Nigeria general elections has the country been this divided.
“Across the country, discontent levels very high, with cries of marginalization raging high. This has resulted in calls for “restructuring” and “referendum” on the nature of government that Nigeria should have.
He said the Situation Room is not in support of any action that will threaten the unity of Nigeria and condemns actions on the part of citizens and groups that undermines our nation’s unity.
“We however note that the issues of equity, equality and fairness are at the core of these recent agitations. This administration will need to address complains from aggrieved sections of the country who feel or perceive that they are not being equitably treated by to.”