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Nigeria’s image and banking reforms

By Ovuakporie Efe

CORRUPTION is a worldwide phenomenon that cuts across every race and tribe; it is not an indigenous property of Nigeria.

What is, however, a cause for concern is the extent of its existence in the different sectors which has greatly impeded Nigeria’s image amongst other nations of the world.

Corruption has rapidly ravaged like a wild fire through successive administrations in Nigeria to the extent that it has become common place in every facet of our human endeavours.

There is no doubt, that corruption has been a major bane to our national economic development.

At the inception of the Yar’Adua’s administration in May 2007, the glaring reality of the ravages of the malaise could no longer be wished away. It became apparent that some drastic measures had to be put in place to combat the stronghold and save the nation from the shackles of the impending doom.

President Yar’Adua came up with several reforms to checkmate the malaise. One of such measures included the banking sector reforms geared towards strengthening Nigeria’s financial and banking sectors with a view to cushioning the current global meltdown as well as serve as an instrument of addressing the integrity problem that has for long been slipping through the pores of our skins and ravaging it beyond repairs.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the health of the nation is intertwined to the financial sector; that is, if the financial sector is healthy, chances are that the economy will likely follow suit.

The sanitation of the banks is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. Though I must confess that my opinions are not formed on expertise but rather on pedestal grounds; I am merely speaking as a concerned Nigerian whose desire it is to see Nigeria transform from its present level to a great height.

I desire to see the eagle which represents strength in our national Coat of Arms truly strong and reliable; I desire to see Nigeria, the Giant of Africa, truly occupy its once enviable position as the Giant of Africa. The only way to ensure this is to create a level playing field, which brings me to the need for us to ensure maximum discipline in the banking sector if we actually desire to save our economy and restore back confidence in our own dear native country.

The banking reforms embarked upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the able leadership of the Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is fast gaining impetus as it has done a great deal to not only boost our transparency but also succeeded in restoring confidence in Nigeria’s financial institutions.

Depositors are no longer scared of the safety of their deposits; as a matter of fact, the well informed ones can now go to sleep with the hope that the banks would manage their risks.

The concerted efforts by the CBN to stabilise the banks, seek full recapitalisation through loan recovery and attract the much desired investments, strengthen the corporate governance and credit practices are yielding positive results to Nigerians and to the overall image of the country.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently endorsed the ongoing banking reforms. The Fund’s Country Chief and Representative in Nigeria, David Nellor, who gave this endorsement, described the CBN’s intervention in some banks as very essential in building a viable financial sector that can promote the goals being set for the Vision 2020.

Also, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Nigerian Embassy in Tunisia, Abdel Kader Musa, has commended the efforts of the Federal Government to consolidate its financial sectors.

Mr. Kader made the revelation while addressing the recent Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors on the Global Financial Crisis in Tunis, Tunisia, where he represented his country’s Ministry of Finance and Central Bank.

The Chargé d’Affaires said the government had injected nearly N1. 7 trillion (NGR 183.325 = 1US$) into the system and had taken relevant regulatory and supervisory actions whose scope extends to non-bank financing institutions.

He noted that while the international community were still struggling to come to grips with the analytical tools to understand the full dimension of the financial crisis, the Nigerian government had already intensified its efforts towards economic diversification and efficient utilization of domestic resources, under its Seven-Point Agenda.

The Nigerian government’s quick response to the crisis becomes more significant in the light of the country’s position in the ECOWAS sub-region, he said, concluding that “Nigeria will do everything possible to enhance its efforts to foster strong regional integration as a means of mitigating the financial crisis”.

In the same vein, the Deputy Secretary, Neal S. Wolin, in his remarks to the Corporate Council on Africa’s US Africa Business Summit held a few days ago has also commended the Nigerian Government for her bold steps to improve her investment climate and strengthen her financial sector.

“In Nigeria, the bold actions of the new Nigerian Central Nigeria’s  image and banking  reforms example of transformative African Leadership in a country whose history has been deeply marred by corruption and internal conflict.”

I feel good that our efforts at strengthening the economy is being recognised and commended by other nationalists and even by the IMF, but my fear however is: Will our bad behaviours and attitudes allow this sanitation exercise to be sustained.

I must confess that I am saddened that some Nigerians who would never appreciate the good efforts of government to see the light of day have already started running down the system.

Several attempts initiated by successive government to fight corruption in Nigeria have often encountered these turgid reform resistance soldiers. There is a persisting and recurrent attitude of distrust among Nigerians.

And every leadership initiatives have suffered and borne the brunt of this negative attitude. My question now is why do some of us always seem to find excuses for the corrupt instead of solid support for those who fight corruption?

The testimonies of these notable financial gurus are a sure indication that the Rebranding Campaign Project championed by Prof Dora Akunyili is beginning to yield its desired results. World-wide people are now beginning to refer to Nigeria as a focal point in financial matters.

This is a big plus to Nigeria’s image perception. Nigeria again has started to stand tall and in good time would take its rightful position in the comity of nations.

Madam Rebranding, if this is one of the benefits of your rebranding campaign project, then I urge you to carry go! Preach the message make them hear! Hither to, one only heard the negative sides of Nigeria as if Nigeria is all about crime.

I cannot deny that there are indeed bad elements amongst Nigerians but this in my own view is quite infinitesimal to label all Nigerian as potential fraudsters and criminals. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the ambassador of financial stability is proudly a Nigerian.

Mr. Efe, a public affairs commentator, writes from Abuja.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.