By Emma Ujah, Abuja bureau Chief
ABUJA — The Federal Government, yesterday, accused the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, of poor managerial ability, saying he was largely responsible for the N5.67 trillion contingent liabilities of distressed banks, bought up by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, to save the banking industry in 2008.
Reacting to Soludo’s comments on the economic downturn in the country, the Federal Government also said the former CBN governor was “an embittered” loser in the Nigerian political space and out to discredit the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in a lengthy response in Abuja, yesterday, said Soludo deliberately distorted facts to suit his mission when indeed, he should have hid his head in shame after plunging the Nigerian banking sector into an unprecedented crisis in 2008.
Okonjo-Iweala’s response was signed by her Special Adviser on the Media, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.
She said: “It shows how an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space can get so derailed that they commit intellectual harakiri by deliberately misquoting economic facts and maliciously turning statistics on their head to justify a hatchet job.
“We cannot go by someone’s subjective view, driven by bitterness. We need to look to the truth and to professionalism. This is where Professor Soludo totally fails.”
She said Soludo was in desperate search for relevance in the country, after being left in the cold after his futile attempts to become governor of Anambra State.
According to her, “he claims in his article that he has had his own share of public service, yet he has failed twice in his attempts to be governor of Anambra State and Vice Presidential candidate of various parties.
Desperate search for power and relevance
“There is definitely an issue of character with Prof. Charles Soludo and his desperate search for power and relevance in Nigeria. Nigerians should, therefore, beware of so-called intellectuals without character and wisdom because this combination is fatal.
“So much of what is written is outright nonsense and self-seeking aggrandizement that need not be dignified with a response. It is totally remarkable that Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the man who presided over the worst mismanagement of Nigeria’s banking sector as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria between May 2004 and May 2009, can write about the mismanagement of the economy.
“Nigerians must be reminded of his antecedents as CBN Governor, and even prior to that, as the Chief Economic Adviser to the President. The consolidation of the banking sector was a good policy idea of the Obasanjo administration but Soludo went on to thoroughly mismanage its implementation leading to the worst financial crisis in Nigeria’s history. So what did Soludo do?”
N5.67trn contingent liabilities of distressed banks
The government alleged that as CBN governor, Soludo compromised the banking supervision mandate of the apex bank, leaving a questionable corporate governance practice in many banks where managers of the banks gave themselves and cronies huge amounts of money in loans without collateral.
“So, let it be noted for the record books that Soludo’s single-handed mismanagement of the banking sector led to an incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion (being the total face value of AMCON-issued bonds) to clean up.
“Let it be noted also that this amount, which is more than the entire Federal Government 2015 budget, constitutes the bulk of Nigeria’s ‘contingent liabilities’ mentioned in Soludo’s article.”