By Marcus Ikechukwu
Moves by the National Assembly to whittle down the powers of the Central Bank Governor, especially to make him an administrative head without executive power to appoint directors or determine salaries and allowances of members of the Apex governing board as the bill to reduce the governor’s power scaled second reading in the Senate.
The Upper Chamber, through a Bill sponsored by Senator Sadiq Umar (Kwara North), also proposed a CBN Board responsible for annual budgets, noting that the practice is the global standard.
The bill seeks to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Act No. 7, the legislation also proposes that besides setting annual budgets, the new Board Chairman of the CBN will equally determine the salaries and allowances of members.
The motion reads in part, “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, divest the Board of the powers of determining and fixing salaries and allowances of its members.
“And considering and approving the annual budget of the Bank; and for other related matters, 2022.”
While contributing to the bill, Senator Betty Apiafi from Rivers said there was a need for a holistic amendment of the CBN Act, insisting that the CBN governor went out of his way to contest for the presidency while in office in the 2022 presidential primary election.
In her estimation, this would not happen anywhere else in the world, given that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) materials were expected to be kept in the bank.
She submitted that the CBN Governor has made more Nigerians sceptical and lost confidence in the capacity of the Apex bank to store sensitive INEC materials, hence the need to reduce the powers of holders of the office.
Her submission was supported by the earlier speaker, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe from Abia State.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, later cautioned Senators to focus on the proposed amendment rather than dabbling into the alleged attempt by the CBN governor to contest it as that wasn’t part of the general principles of the bill.