The Senate yesterday confirmed the appointment Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as the substantive President of Court of Appeal.
Also, the legislative chamber confirmed the appointment of Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
President Goodluck Jonathan had on February 20, forwarded a letter to the Senate President David Mark, requesting the Senate to confirm Emefiele as CBN governor to replace Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, whom he had suspended the same day.
Similarly, last week the President forwarded the name of Zainab Bulkachuwa to the Senate for confirmation as the substantive President of the Court of Appeal, after she had been there for months in acting capacity.
The decision to confirm the appointments of the duo was arrived at after a three-hour grilling by senators, who asked both nominees questions on how they intend to address the challenges facing the Nigerian banking sector as well as the Judiciary.
Responding to a question on why the National Assembly should not appropriate the budget of the apex bank and oversight the institution’s expenditures, the new CBN governor said he has no reservation against the amendment of the CBN Act.
He said the National Assembly has the powers to make and amend the laws, but warned that they should consider the international best practices, especially as obtains in developed economies.
He emphasised the need to study and consult critically to avoid taking any decision that would plunge the country into economic crisis, pointing out that Nigeria is a big economy in which other countries of the world are interested.
“I cannot question the wisdom of the National Assembly, but I hope they do what is in the best interest of the economy and what is in line with global best practices”, he said.
Speaking on the high unemployment rate in the country, the new governor of the apex bank said one of his major policy thrusts would be institutionalising development banks to provide soft loans to empower the manufacturing sector.
He disclosed that about N200 billion has been earmarked by the CBN for this policy, adding that it would help to transform Nigeria from a consuming economy to a producing one.
He said the funds, when disbursed, would not need collateral from the borrowers as they would only receive the loan through their co-operative societies.
Meanwhile, responding to questions on how the Judiciary could be transformed, Bulkachuwa said that arm of government works under great financial pressure.
She explained that the delay in the dispensation of electoral petitions was not the fault of the tribunals or appeal courts, but of counsels to petitioners who usually take long time to file their petitions.
She said the 180 days set by the 2010 Electoral Act for the conclusion of all matters relating to election start counting immediately after elections.
Protesting against this, the Appeal Court President said, the 180 days should start counting when the petition is filed.
She regretted that by the time some counsels file the petitions of their clients, only seven days would be left out of the 180 days, adding that judges can only do little to meet the deadline.
Meanwhile, in his remarks after the confirmation of the nominees, the Senator Mark urged the CBN governor to discharge his duty without fear or favour so as to strengthen Nigeria’s vision for a strong fiscal status.
He also challenged the Appeal Court President to put necessary policies in place to hasten justice delivery in the country.
Until their appointments, Emefiele was the Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, with 27 years experience in the banking sector, while Bulkachuwa was the Acting President of the Court of Appeal.