By Ikechukwu Okaforadi & Musa Adamu
Senate yesterday bowed to pressure over its earlier decision not to screen the two nominees of President Mohammadu Buhari to the office of Deputy Governors of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as it yesterday directed its committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial institution, to screen the two nominees and submit report at plenary.
It would be recalled that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the CBN has not been able to meet due to its failure to form quorum for a meeting to take key economic and monetary decisions.
This is essentially due to the refusal of the senate to screen the two nominees appointed by President Buhari as the Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who incidentally are members of the MPC.
The senate had based its decision not to screen the two CBN nominees on the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), even as the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had said the Senate has no powers to reject any Presidential nominee.
But raising a point of Order 42 and 52, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial institution, Rafiu Ibrahim, said because of the resolution of the Senate that all confirmation according to all Acts of the National Assembly pending with the senate should be suspended forthwith, the two MPC members have not been screened.
“ 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, 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 do consider the possibility of us taking 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.
“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 being held in January 22nd and 23rd and the next meeting is March 19 and 20).
“I want to appeal to our colleagues. We have three requests regarding the Board of the Central Bank; two deputy governors who are also members of MPC and MPC members who are majorly in the private sector.
“MPC is a creation of the CBN Act which is autonomous. It is not run by the Board of Central Bank but each meeting of every two months bothers on the economy. As it is today, It’s already affecting the Foreign Direct Investment into Nigeria. Some foreign portfolio investments 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 the committee can continue to sit and direct the affairs of the financial sector which is the heart of the economy.
Contributing, the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’allah, said “This Senate has a commitment to cooperate fully with the Federal Government on everything that relates to the economy and good governance of this country”.
Also, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in his remarks, said “It is important that we consider our stand in respect of our earlier resolution on confirmation. We should make this exception so that our economy does not collapse.
In this regards, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said “Let me acknowledge and thank my colleagues for the statesmanship role you continue to play. This has been a chamber that has always been for the issue of the economy.
“And for us to do all it takes to continue to ensure we see investments, ease of doing business and give confidence. Inasmuch as we continue to defend the institutions and the constitution, it is time we look at the priorities and understand what is important”, he said.