Reps frown at absence of Commercial Bank Executives at fact-finding interface on circulation of redesigned naira notes. Adhoc Committee Chair insists lawmakers will not watch ‘unpopular policies of government threatening survival of the economy to continue
“There is no policy whatsoever that cannot be reversed, good or bad as long as that policy or the reversal of that policy is going to be in the overall interest of Nigerians.” – Alhassan Ado-Doguwa (House Majority Leader)
Management of various commercial banks in the country have shunned the House of Representatives despite an invitation to brief the lawmakers on the situation so far, ahead of the January 31 deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation.
The Adhoc Committee constituted to interface with the Bank Operators, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) failed to appear at the meeting scheduled for 3:00 pm on Wednesday, 25th January at Meeting Room 301, House of Representatives Wing of the National Assembly Complex.
Visibly unhappy, the Chairman of the Committee and House Majority Leader, Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, did not show up at the meeting venue until 4 pm. Upon his arrival, Rep. Unyime Idem (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said the opening prayers at 4:05 pm. Doguwa thereafter informed his colleagues and journalists present that the invitees received the letters late. He also warned against boycotting the meeting, emphasising that the summons of the House must be taken very seriously.
He added that no unpopular policy hampering the economy of the country and affecting the people negatively would be allowed to sail through.
“This is the House Adhoc Committee to interface with the CBN and the bank operators with regards to resolving the issue of the phasing out strategy of the old naira notes and to bring into circulation the new naira notes, among other reasons.
We also have other factors that we discussed on the floor of the House yesterday, and ultimately the House mandated this Adhoc Committee to come up with a strategy to engage the officials of the CBN and CEOs of the commercial banks. It is therefore, my pleasure to inform members of the committee. First of all, that we scheduled today’s meeting based on the letter we have signed out only with officials of the CBN, and we have scheduled bank operators to come up tomorrow.
For the purposes of clarification, I want to say without any fear of contradiction that the parliament is always an institution that represents the Nigerian people. When there is any need, it calls for an invitation to any government employee, like it is the case here with the CBN, the Governor of the CBN, his Directors, Deputy Directors, all Departmental Heads. I believe our own employees of the Nigerian people, and when there is a kind of summon from the institution of the parliament like this, we expect every up-and-doing employee to only respect that invitation.
And on this note, I want to say on behalf of the House of Representatives that we have taken this from the point of perhaps giving them the leverage or benefit of the doubt that, yes, the letter got to them late yesterday and on no account, I repeat, we would have a repeat of this failure tomorrow. None of us here is acting in his personal capacity.
None of us here is acting for any personal reasons, especially on a matter like this, where the Nigerian people and economy is threatened by a lot of dangers by the policy of a government department. Those of us here who are working for the Nigerian people. We cannot sit down here and watch policies of the government that are not unpopular, threatening the survival of our economy to continue.
I hear some of them saying it is a matter they have decided. It is a matter that no one goes back about it. This is the supreme institution of Nigeria’s democracy and I want to say without any fear of contradiction that for whatever policy the government is undertaking, especially at a critical period like this, Nigerians must know and whoever is involved must know that definitely the interest of the Nigerian people holds sway. So, there is no policy whatsoever that cannot be reversed, good or bad as long as that policy or the reversal of that policy is going to be in the overall interest of Nigerians.
The House Majority Leader explained that the Committee had scheduled to meet with the Commercial Bank Executives on Wednesday and subsequently interface with the CBN officials on Thursday. He also explained that communication received from the CBN Liaison Officer in the National Assembly stated that due to the late arrival of the letter, the bureaucracy could not work on it.
“So, it is like we invited them separately based on the nature of the engagement. It is a fact-finding thing, and like I always say, this is not something to witch hunt anyone. It is a simple fact-finding mission by the parliament which obviously holds the proxy of the Nigerian people. So, we decided to take them separately.
We have scheduled today (Wednesday) for the officials of the CBN and tomorrow (Thursday) for the bank operators and CEOs of commercial banks and on that note, I would like to communicate with members of the public that based on the communication I just received from CBN, it is that our letter of invitation got to the bank very late yesterday.
You can all agree with me that the resolution was taken at the end of our sitting yesterday, 24th January 2023 and before we could finish the necessary procedures, the letters were sent to the CBN late. So, the Liaison Officer of the Bank spoke to us this evening, that they were not able to really act on the letter to allow for their engagement today,” Doguwa said.
Doguwa thereafter announced that the meeting with the apex bank had been rescheduled for Thursday by 1 pm, before a subsequent meeting with the Bank executives.
“On this note, I would like to convey to this Committee, members of the public and the press here with us that we have conceded to allow the CBN officials to come tomorrow by 1pm so that we would engage them and immediately after the engagement with them, we would engage the bank operators.
We would not endanger our economy. We would also not allow anybody to endanger our economy. CBN must appear before this committee of the House of Representatives tomorrow by 1pm to discuss this very critical matter. It borders on the survival of our economy and our people. The businesses are shut down all over. Agriculture is suffering. Petty businesses in the villages are also suffering. I understand that in some places, even dowry, bride price is not accepted. So, this is a serious issue.