•Adeosun’s request on Central Bank should be rejected
Rep. Leo Okuweh Ogor is the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, and represents Isoko Federal Constituency, in Delta State. In this chat he spoke extensively on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN face-off with the Ministry of Finance, SGF, CG Customs unending war with the Senate, El-Rufai’s outbursts and the faith of PDP in the 2019 elections,excerpts.
By Emman Ovuakporie and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Minister of Finance recently called for the whittling down of the apex bank’s powers, do you think this will augur well for Nigeria?
In the first place, such moves should be jettisoned as they are tantamount to eroding the independence of the Central Bank.
Rather than whittling the powers of the central bank which is not in conformity with best international practices as present day realities has demonstrated world wide, our Finance minister should initiate relevant fiscal policies aimed at stimulating the economy from recession.
If the Minister succeeds with her plan, the reaction time of the CBN to monetary policies will be greatly impaired by bureaucracy as it is expected to act through a supervisory agency and such move will result in undue political interference in monetary policies, which will not augur well for the economy.
The minister should have asked for power strengthening the CBN rather than ask for supervisory powers for a ministry that is not established or based on any Act.
The Central Bank should remain independent and not be brought under the Ministry of Finance. The CBN should not be seen as an appendage of the finance ministry.
Reinforcing the CBN’s autonomy as a global practice should be encouraged while the relationship between the ministry and CBN should be the coordination of monetary and fiscal policies.
To say that the Governor and the Central Bank should be under the control of the Executive would mean that any decision that is made by the CBN will be subjected to political influence. So, the place of the Central Bank is sacrosanct. In fact, such an idea should be thrown out immediately as it is not in consonance with global best practices.
What is your perspective on the memo from Governor El-Rufai to President Buhari?
For us as a people we are trying to look at the reality nobody knows when 2019 will come but there are challenges on ground which El Rufai has pointed out but rather than to look at these issues there are some individuals who believe that they are not the truth.
What we are saying is that if somebody in the position of El Rufai can tell Nigerians that APC government has actually deviated from the whole challenges and the promises they made, it shows very clearly that some of them are actually frustrated and realised that this change they promised the Nigerian people are negative changes.
Somebody in the position of their governor was speaking so it will be very dangerous for us as a people to disregard what El Rufai has said. What El Rufai has said is more like a warning to the Nigerian people – that we have made a major mistake and I think as a government and as a people it is also important that we see how we can address these challenges.
The PDP is still engulfed in crisis despite the recent peace moves being made, do you think there is hope that the crisis would be resolved?
You are all aware of the challenges in the party. There is nothing wrong when somebody tries to make room for peace. I strongly believe that any move that will bring peace must be encouraged no matter the scenario.
What is your reaction to the face-off between the Senate and the presidency over the failure of some government agencies to appear before the National Assembly?
It bothers me as a lawmaker and this also borders on separation of power. If you watch it closely this is the first time in the history of the country that the National Assembly, the custodian and foundation of democracy is being so disobeyed by different arms of government. I read in the papers where the SGF said he was not going to come to the Senate because the matter is in the court and I also read where the Comptroller General of Customs said that he was not coming to NASS because the matter is also in court.
The question I need to put before the public, is which came first, was it the Senate invitation or the or fillings that took place in the court because by the provisions of sections 88 and 89 of the constitution the National Assembly can invite any body and if it invites you it does not criminalise anybody, it is an open invitation and constitutional powers given to the NASS and all of a sudden you run to the court. If you run to court it automatically means there is something you are hiding.
If they have respect for the Senate as an institution and therefore, the National Assembly by extension, they should not refuse Senate invitation. They should show respect by attending and listening to the Senate and thereafter give whatever explanation is required of them.
It’s morally, unethically and constitutionally wrong for the SGF and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service to shun the invitation by the Senate or its committee and deliberately refuse to attend under the guise that doing so is sub-judice.
At any rate this trend of public officials refusing to answer legislative summons is becoming a threat to Nigeria’s democracy and must be nipped in the bud.
What is sad and debilitating about the whole thing is that Mr President is hearing and seeing this happen but has decided to keep mum. What happens tomorrow if the presidency invites any member of the National Assembly and he refuses to obey such an invitation.