The Senate has approved that those nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as deputy governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria, members of the board of the apex bank and members of the Monetary Policy Committee be screened for confirmation.
Buhari had written to the Senate in December 2017, seeking legislative confirmation of the appointment of Mrs. Aishah Ahmad as a deputy governor of the CBN.
The President had also asked that Prof. Adeola Festus Adenikinju, Dr. Aliyu Rafindadi Sanusi, Dr. Robert Chikwendu Asogwa and Dr. Asheikh A. Maidugu be confirmed as the MPC members to replace four MPC members whose tenure expired at the end of last year.
Buhari later in February 2018 nominated Edward Adamu from Gombe State as a deputy governor of the CBN to replace Mr. Sulaiman Barau from Zaria, Kaduna State, who retired in December 2017.
The confirmation requests, however, got to the Senate after the lawmakers had resolved to suspend further consideration of appointments made by Buhari to protest against the retention of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The Senate was also irked by the position taken by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, then as Acting President, that executive appointments did not require legislative approval.
At the plenary on Tuesday, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, moved a motion to urge the lawmakers to lift the embargo on the confirmation of appointments by the President.
Ibrahim said the non-confirmation of the deputy governors of the CBN and members of the MPC was negatively affecting the economy, especially foreign direct investments.
He stated, “I rise on the issue pertaining to a very significant aspect of the country’s economy, knowing from inception of the 8th Senate that the 8th Senate is pro-economy, pro-foreign direct investment and pro-foreign controlling investment. We are all aware that in January, because of the resolution of this Senate, that all confirmation according to all Acts of the National Assembly pending with us should be suspended forthwith.
“I rise to ask that the Senate should consider the possibility of us taking (out) the very important aspect of the economy, which is the Monetary Policy Committee. The MPC is made up of 12 members; about seven from the private sector and five inside the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“As of today, only three of them are valid. Almost all other members, their tenure expired by December last year and that culminated into the MPC meeting not held on January 22 and 23; and the next meeting is March 19 and 20.”
The lawmaker added, “I want to appeal to my colleagues. We have three requests regarding the board of the central bank; two deputy governors, who are also members of the MPC; and the MPC members who are mostly in the private sector.
“The MPC is a creation of the CBN Act, which is autonomous. It is not run by the board of the central bank but each meeting of every two months bothers on the economy. As it is today, it is already affecting the foreign direct investment into Nigeria. Some foreign portfolio investors are already leaving, some that are supposed to come are not coming.
“I just want to appeal that we take only the aspect that affects the Monetary Policy Committee, which is the independent members and the two deputy governors that are members of the MPC, so that the committee can continue to sit and direct the affairs of the financial sector, which is the heart of the economy.”
Seconding the motion, the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, said he was happy that the Senate had the commitment to cooperate fully with the Federal Government on everything relating to the economy and good governance of the country.
“For the three years that I have been here and having the privilege of being the Deputy Senate Leader, there was never a time that this Senate has failed or neglected to act in pursuance of that commitment. In view of this, I think it is a very straightforward motion. I urge that we take it,” he said.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, also backed the call for lifting of the suspension on the CBN appointments.
He said, “A wise man is a man who changes his mind if he has to. I think it is important that we reconsider our stand in respect of our earlier resolution on confirmation and be able to make an exception in respect of the issue of the MPC.
“I believe that it is important that we make this exception so that our economy will not collapse and the international community will continue to have confidence in our economy.”
The lawmakers unanimously granted the prayer.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, referred the nominations to Ibrahim’s committee for further legislative processes.
He said, “Let me particularly, again, acknowledge and thank you, my colleagues, for the statesmanship role you have continued to play. This has been a chamber that has always been for the economy and for us to do all it takes to ensure that we see investments, ease of doing business and give confidence; and that is what we are doing here.
“Inasmuch as we continue to defend the institutions and democracy and the Constitution that we have all sworn by, it is time to also look at the priorities and understand what is important.”
Buhari had in March 2017 sought the Senate’s approval for the appointment of Prof. Ummu Ahmed Jalingo (North-East), Prof. Justitia Odinakachukwu Nnabuko (South-East), Prof. Mike Obadan (South-South), Dr. Abdu Abubakar (North-West) and Adeola Adetunji (South-West) into the Board of the CBN.