Embattled ex-Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele attempted to contest the 2023 presidential election while in office.
The Senate has passed for a second reading, a bill seeking to ban the Governor and Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from participating in politics.
The passage followed the consideration of two bills to amend the Central Bank Act sponsored by Senator Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central) and Senator Sunday Karimi (APC, Kogi West) respectively.
In his debate, Karimi proposed an amendment to restrict the CNB Governor and Deputies from participating in politics while occupying the offices.
Recall that the immediate past Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, had indicated interest in contesting the last Presidential election by picking the APC presidential nomination form prior to the general elections.
Section 9(2) of the CBN Act states that: “Notwithstanding the Provisions of this Act or any written law in existence, the Governor and the Deputy Governor of the Bank shall not participate directly or indirectly in partisan politics, nor contest any election, during their tenure in office.”
Karimi also proposed that the Auditor-General of the Federation, Chairmen of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and Chartered Institute of Bankers in Nigeria (CIBN) be represented on the board of the CBN.
The bill also seeks to amend Section 20 of the Act to prohibit the use of foreign currency for domestic transactions in Nigeria, by inserting Section 20(A) immediately after the existing section 20, before the current section 21.
The proposed amendment reads as follows: “20(A) Prohibition of the use of foreign currency in democratic transactions: (1) No person or corporate body shall use any foreign currency as a means of exchange for goods, services and other transactions in markets supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, airports and other places of business in Nigeria except by a Bank, licensed Bureau De Change and other financial institutions duly authorized by the Central Bank of Nigeria to trade, deal and use such currency and no individual or business entity in Nigeria shall advertise, denominate or price its goods or services in any currency other than the Nigerian Naira and Kobo.
On his part, Nwokocha said the amendment seeks to make provision for the appointment of a Chairman of the Board and address all anomalies that have hindered the advancement of the apex bank to handle the issues in the economy.
“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, the thrust of this amendment is to create a people-centered central bank by delivering price and financial system stability and promoting sustainable economic development.
“As the nation grapples with economic issues, we need to reposition the CBN to grow the economy, regulate the exchange rate and unauthorized financial transactions, and dollarizing the economy.
“This bill seeks to provide for among other things, separate the head of management from the head of the governing board in line with national and international good corporate governance practices,” he said.
He also said the amendment would ensure effective accountability and transparency in the conduct of central banking in Nigeria thereby giving CBN the opportunity to achieve its core mandates.
“Specific ways of achieving the above objectives contained in the Amendments being sought is to establish the position of the Chairman of the Board of the CBN with cognate qualifications and experience suitable for achieving the renewed objectives of the Bank.
It also seeks to establish an effective and efficient board for the CBN with enhanced independence and neutrality for comprehensive policy and operational Board oversight.”
Nkwocha further explained that the bill would guarantee internal and parliamentary oversight besides credible accountability to the Nigerian people.
“This bill will ensure that the banking system is repositioned to play its primary role of financial intermediation for the benefit of investments and economic growth in Nigeria,” he added.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Barau Jibrin, in his contribution, emphasised the importance of the amendment in order for the CBN to carry out its functions effectively
“It is important that we reposition our laws and the CBN Act to make sure that the apex bank is put in the best position to perform its function.
“An integral part of the arrangement of every country is making sure that every country has a central bank that will be in control of its monetary policies because one is not able to get right there, then that will be something that will be described as catastrophic.“
The bills were thereafter referred to the Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Matters for further legislative input.