By Daniel Idonor
ABUJA â€” GOVERNOR ofÂ the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Lamido Sanusi, yesterday, raised alarm that some of the sacked bank chief executive officers, CEOs, have budgetedÂ Â N300 million to fight him through the media, alleging that already N120 million has been deployed for sustained media war against him.
Speaking after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, the CBN boss said N120 million of the budget has already been spent on newspaper publications meant to tarnish his image and efforts, which have seen the sack and prosecution of some bank chief executives.
He said: â€œI donâ€™t think that anybody can do things that we did without expecting any reaction. I knew people will react. They will fight in the newspapers, in the courts of law; they will fight in any way they can. All we have to do is to remain focused and do what needs to be done. We are not in any way worried about what the people are doing and we should not let them divert attention.â€
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents on criticisms and challenges facing his reforms, the CBN boss said: â€œwe actually know the person that writes the publications; we actually know the person that has paid for the publications, we actually know how much has been spent. There was a budget of N300m, N120m has been spent. We know exactly who they are and where they are. We know what their relationships are with the CEOs that were removed, but it is not important in any way because it has no impact on what we are doing and what we will continue to do and that is it.â€
Sanusi had briefed the FEC on the banking reforms and the performance of the nationâ€™s economy during which he announced that the 6.9 per cent growth of GDP in 2009 was expected to rise above seven per cent for 2010, and that the exchange rate of the naira against foreign currencies was also expected to remain stable. He said: â€œThe increasing growth rate was sequel to improved performance of the agriculture and oil sector, particularly with the peace reigning in the Niger Delta now.
I was at the FEC today (yesterday) as part of the quarterly briefing as institutionalized by the President that at end of every quarter. The briefing covers development in the macro-economy, GDP numbers, development in the banking system and outlook on the near to the long term. We briefed the council on the latest growth figure on the GDP which shows that our GDP potential growth by six points, precisely nine per cent in the year 2009 despite the difficult environment.
â€œWe did note that all of that growth came from agriculture and the positive development in the oil and gas sector after the peace in the Niger Delta and also the retail trade. However, manufacturing remains flat and there is, therefore, a need to focus on manufacturing in order to create jobs.
We also briefed council on the outcome of Enugu retreat of the banks and the decision of the banks to propose to the government policy measures that are required in the areas of power, agriculture and transport infrastructure to encourage inflow of private investment and bank lending to those areas. We also briefed council on the quarter result of the banks and reasons why banks were compelled to reduce workers. The council urges banks to minimize the pains of restructuring on their own workers.
However, we recognize the fact that if the banks are not making money they will be unable to continue to retain these workers. The council, however, continues to urge the banks to ensure that in whatever they do, they comply with the terms of their collective agreement as well as the contract they have with the staff,
Bright economic outlook
â€œFinally, we did brief council that the outlook of the economy remains bright and that forecast growthÂ for 2010 of over seven per cent, oil prices are high, output is improving, we expect foreign reserves to be stable, we expect foreign exchange rate to remain stable. In general, so long as we make progress on the power reforms, and infrastructure, we expect growth would remain strong and inflation risk will be mitigated.â€
The FEC had noted that there was need to pay more attention to the manufacturing sector which did not perform well last year while banks were urged to minimize the pains of their staff who have been sacked due to the reforms. Other decisions of the FEC included the approval of N488 million contract for the purchase of10 total body scanners for four international airports in the country, viz, Lagos (3); Abuja (2); Kano (2); Port Harcourt (2), while one will be kept on â€œstandby redundancyâ€.