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As the bill to amend the Central Bank Act runs into hot water…(3)

By Awa Kalu, SAN
Are the net consequences of a law perfectly knowable from either perspective or does the possibility of unforeseeable consequences exist? Can the unforeseeable risks be minimized either by construction of the laws to allow for contingencies or by regulating other rules or contributing factors?

Do solutions from either perspective negatively impact human and/or civil rights? Do these negative impacts outweigh the positive effects to those greater human and/or civil rights of all?” (See www.jonathanturley.org)

Surely, not all the indices above apply to the Central Bank Amendment Bill. Nevertheless, the Central Bank Governor and all the discerning participants of the hearing showed perfect understanding of the issues at stake.

A gentleman seated next to me throughout the occasion kept needling me in a humorous manner with parables and anecdotes. His concern was whether a well-dressed lady should be undressed without just cause or without justification.

Put in other words, the CBN Act has worked perfectly since the CBN was established several decades ago. As was explained by Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, since inception all the Governors of the bank have been known for their knowledge and versatility in matters of banking and finance.

They have always been men of integrity who, in discharge of the onerous responsibility of Central Banking, have been assisted by equally cerebral persons. The enabling Act upon which the powers to manage the fiscal and monetary policies of this country are derived, provides for a Board of Directors of which the Governor is the Chairman.

All the Deputy-Governors are members of the Board together with five other men of integrity whose nomination by the President requires confirmation by the Senate. To cut a long story short, the Act provides for a board constituted by twelve persons of esteemed disposition.

If you trust these persons to manage the nation’s economy, why can you not trust them to propose and approve the budget with which to fulfill the Bank’s mandate? On a hilarious note, the Minister of State for Finance whose presentation was well-informed, asked why a Gynaecologist should be given instructions on how to perform a Caesarian section! Further explanation was provided indicating that the accounts

of the apex bank are subjected to internal audit and scrutinized by external auditors appointed by the President. The Auditor-General of the Federation equally has oversight over the bank’s expenditure profile in addition to regular queries from the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.

The Honourable Minister of State (Finance) in my view, rightly drew a distinction between other parastatals and the Central Bank which he characterized as “a special animal” which must be treated differently. The proposed amendment excludes all the deputy-governors from the Board and proposes an outsider as Chairman. No one in the audience had any support for this idea.

Having provided the checks and balances which have worked well for years, the inevitable task for the supporters of the amendment bill was to overcome the overwhelming opposition to the bill. Senator Eta Enang, the bill’s sponsor arrived when the proceedings were well in progress and rather ominously, NEPA/PHCN (or whatever alias they have assumed these days) took their light.

Was this a message from the gods indicating that when something is working you do not need to fix it? Our Senators and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives are alive to their responsibilities and assuredly will let a dog that is enjoying its sleep, lie.


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