The Senate on Tuesday passed for second reading a bill seeking to whittle down the powers of the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The bill, sponsored by Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar (APC, Kwara), specifically sought amendment to the CBN Act No. 7 to enable the appointment of a person other than the apex bank’s governor as the chairman of its Board of Directors.
In the current CBN Act, the incumbent governor is empowered to also serve as chairman of its Board.
Other Board members are four deputy governors, permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance, five directors and Accountant General of the Federation.
The Board is responsible for the policy and general administration of the affairs and business of the bank, including formulation and implementation of exchange rate policy as well as consideration and approval of the bank’s annual budget.
The Senate, in the bill, also seeks to divest the Board of CBN powers of determining and fixing salaries and allowances of its members and considering and approving the annual budget of the bank.
Senator Umar, in his lead debate, said central banks globally have different persons as Chief Executive and Chairman of Board.
“This bill seeks to divest the Governor of CBN chairmanship of the Board as obtainable in other countries of the world.
“A different person with requisite qualification and required knowledge on monetary and financial policies should be made chairman of the Board.
“Separation of the two positions will enable any sitting CBN governor to focus more on fiscal and monetary policies than politics of the institution,” he said.
Supporting the bill, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP Rivers), said the amendment of the CBN has become imperative in view of the way the incumbent governor, Godwin Emefiele, was branded as presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in May this year.
“The CBN governor went out of his way to contest for presidency while in office in the 2022 presidential primary election.
“This would not happen anywhere in the world, given that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) materials were expected to be kept in the bank.
“Godwin Emefiele having attempted to contest the presidency has made Nigerians to lose confidence in the bank storing the INEC materials,” she said.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, however, cautioned senators to focus on the proposed amendment rather than dabbling into the alleged attempt by the CBN governor to contest as that wasn’t part of the general principles of the bill.
The bill, after scaling second reading, was referred to the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for further legislative works.