By Emeka Mamah
KADUNAâ€” Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, yesterday, gave reasons why the apex bank revealed the names of big bank debtors, saying that this was because some people were blackmailing the CBN authorities, claiming that the exercise had an ethnic colouration.
Sanusi also debunked the claim by business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim, that his indebtedness to the Oceanic Bank was N12 billion instead of N14 billion as stated by the CBN.
The CBN Governor who spoke on the BBC Hausa Service interview, monitored in Kaduna, further said that he will not speak evil against his predecessor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo for whatever that might have gone wrong in the banking industry during his time, pointing out that it was his business to fix such problems.
Sanusi saidÂ those accusing the CBN of having an ethnic agenda on the issue are those who borrowed billions of naira and refused to pay back.
On the crisis in the banking industry
â€œThose working in the banking sector know the problems in the banking industry more than those people outside who do not know the major problems that are facing some banks.
The global economic meltdown has affected Nigerian banks in two ways: The first is like we know that the price of oil has fallen, some banks had given out loans and when the price of oil fell, some of the debtors deliberately refused to pay and the banks lost.
There were also many banks that used peopleâ€™s money to trade in the Stocks Exchange Market, and they also lost money in that process when the stocks market crashed.
So, instead of these banks to come out like their foreign counterparts and tell the world the losses they incurred, and if they needed more investments for them to source for the money, they chose to hide their problem and the CBN had continued to help them with money since October.
So we decided to investigate and we found out that 40% of the loan given out by these banks may not be repaid. That meant the banks were on the way to collapse. But in order to salvage peopleâ€™s money, we pumped in N400 billion into these banks.
On Suludoâ€™sÂ assurance onÂ Nigerian banks
I have one principle, if you observed when I stood before the Senate; I never liked to criticize my predecessor, now that I am in the office and entrusted by people, whatever needs to be amended is incumbent upon me to do that, what he (Sulodo) had done has passed.
If some people had something to say, I would not like to comment on that.
Investigation is on, on 11 more banks and would be completed at the end of this month; three other banks, City bank, Standard Chartered and Stanbic, we will complete the investigation in September. So people would know everything but what we understand from our end, is that those five banks had serious problems in Nigeria and had given out more loans than any other. Even if other banks have problems, such problems are not insurmountable.
On sacked MDs
Leadership is always a difficult thing, when you investigated and found the truth, it would be improper to just keep the report on your tabled. When these banks crumble, poor people with money in such banks will suffer.
Many people had become victims of these failed banks, this step we have taken and the step we think is right is that step that would protect peopleâ€™s wealth. But action should be taken on these banksâ€™ executives and those who borrowed the money and refused to pay
Why we have to make public names of the loan defaulters was because some people have started saying it was a Northern agenda, that we want to crumble some of their banks, so we decided to let the world know whatwas really going on.
Any bank that gives out loan of N300 billion and the money is not recovered, should such bank be allowed to be or not? Secondly such people that collected the loans are those who go behind to criticize, saying what is happening to the banks is wrong.
So we feel is proper for the public to know that it is such people that are benefiting from the system, they borrow without paying back. They borrow money belonging to the people and build houses, buy aero planes and travel around the world.
People should know that it was their money these people are using; perhaps this may prevent such misuse and sanitize the country.
What we have seen the EFCC do after sitting down with them, they sat with the Managing Directors of these affected banks and they gave them the names of those involved. There are those who sought for extension of time to repay the loans and were given, there are those who achieved what they wanted with the loans but had refused to pay back.
There are those loans again that were full of deceit, it was actually the bank MDs that gave themselves the loans and established companies with the money in their names, or that of their cronies. The authorities are really behind such bank officials to get peopleâ€™s money
On Jimoh Ibrahim saying there is no N14 billion loan but N8 billion…
Itâ€™s not true and I would not like to be exchanging words with anyone, when we investigated we found that he got N14 billion loan from the bank. What happened was that Oceanic Bank told him that if he could pay N12 billion, they would forfeit the N2 billion.
After our examination, he went and paid N4 billion, thinking he had paid out of N12 billion, remaining N8 billion. In the first place, he has not paid the N12 billion for them to give him a waiver of N2 billion. Secondly when we went to investigate the account, as of 31 of May, Jimoh Ibrahim took loan of N14 billion.â€
He said he was not afraid of anybody as he believed that he was doing the right thing, and those super Nigerians who feel they are untouchable would soon receive the greatest surprise of their life.