By Emeka Anaeto, in Washington
Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said he and Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, were absent at the Nigerian -US Investment Summit in Washington last week due to clash of schedule.
Emefiele was reacting to insinuations that they disregarded the invitation by Nigerian Embassy in Washington to the summit where they were expected to play key roles, thereby causing loss of potential investment opportunity as the investors in attendance expressed their disappointment with the absence of the two key government officials.
In fact, the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, expressed angst that top Nigerian government officials, including ministers, were absent at the meeting.
At a joint press briefing he addressed with Adeosun at the end of the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group, yesterday, in Washington DC, United States of America, Emefiele said: “The Minister of Finance has taken time to say why we are here. We are here to attend the World Bank and IMF meetings. The Minister of Finance and for me being the governor of the CBN what takes pre-eminence is the meetings in the IMF as well as the meeting at the World Bank.
“I think it is important for me to say this. When I arrived in Washington, officials of the embassy spoke with me that there was going to be a US-Nigeria summit and I said I will check my schedule because I was not consulted when this summit was being organised.
“What one would have expected is that they would have checked my schedule and that of the finance minister if they thought that our presence at the summit was very necessary. They could have checked our schedules to see that there was no conflict.
“I sit here to say the US- Nigeria summit was meant to hold between 2 pm and 3 pm whereas the World Bank development committee plenary session, which is an assembly of ministers and governors of central banks was to hold between 2.45 and 5 pm.
“There was no way how the Minister of Finance and I could have been at those meetings. But I think it is important to say it is unfair for people to begin to cast aspersions without understanding our schedules.
“The main reason we are here is because of the statutory meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
…Apologise to investors
“I felt I should explain this. We are not irresponsible people and please we apologise to those investors who had gathered at the Nigerian Embassy for the summit. My apologies but I know we also held some side meetings with some investors and there will always be lots of opportunities to meet with them. But I want to say this is not the fault of the Minister of Finance and me the CBN governor.”
Also reacting, Adeosun stated: “I attended the IMFC, which is the highest decision making body of the IMF and I represent 23 African countries in that role. So one of the things I have to do is to issue a statement on behalf of those 23, which include most of the Anglophone countries, including South Africa and Mozambique.
“So my primary role here as well as having the Nigerian hat on is to represent the 23 African countries. There has been some controversies over the scheduling. I wasn’t due at any event. I was here as a member of IMFC to represent the 23 African countries and that schedule is what I must adhere to. I think maybe there were some scheduling challenges there.”