It appears the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may stay on hold for longer than anticipated as the Senate insisted today (Thursday) that it will not confirm CBN nominees until President Buhari removes Ibrahim Magu as Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Reacting to a judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja Division, which ruled that the Senate has powers to confirm or reject nominees, Senate Spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, told journalists in Abuja that the upper legislative chamber has been vindicated.
Recall that the MPC meeting billed for January 22 and 23 this year could not hold as a result of the apex bank’s inability to form a quorum as stipulated in the CBN Act 2007.
The MPC meeting where critical decisions on the economy are taken, meets once in every two months, bringing to six the number of times the Committee convenes in a year. The last meeting was held in November 2017.
The MPC comprises a chairman, who is the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), four Deputy Governors of the CBN, and seven other members- five of the members retired last year.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in October 2017 presented Aishah Ahmad to the Senate for confirmation as CBN Deputy Governor, replacing Sarah Alade who retired last year as the apex bank’s DG, Economic Policy.
Also yesterday, the Presidency formally announced the nomination of Edward Adamu, for appointment as Deputy Governor of CBN to replace Suleiman Barau who also retires in December as DG, Corporate Services.
According to a statement on Thursday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, a letter has since been sent to the Senate seeking Adamu’s confirmation.
The President also sought the Senate’s confirmation of appointment of Adeola Adenikinju; Aliyu Sanusi; Robert Asogwa and Asheikh Maidugu to replace four members of the MPC whose tenures equally expired last year.
But the lingering face-off between the Presidency and National Assembly has led to the Senate insisting that it will no longer confirm most nominations from the Presidency and is now posing a serious challenge on the Monetary Policy Committee which cannot form a quorum without those key appointments.
There are also concerns that even if the MPC holds, the outcomes may not be far-reaching and widely trusted and acceptable by relevant stakeholders to make decisions.
But the Senate Spokesperson asked the President to “do the needful” by relieving Magu of his appointment and retracting a commenting that the upper legislative chamber lacked confirmation powers.
This, he stressed, is the only way the MPC nominees and other executive nominees would be confirmed.
He said: “By this (court) judgment, for those who have been worried that the Monetary Policy Committee never met, I think this is a window for the MPC to see the light in meeting.
“If the Executive does the needful, provide another Nigerian of credible character of which we have millions of them – 180 million of them – even by arithmetic error, we should be able to get good people.
“So, it is our hope and prayer that our amiable President will find this judgment in order and will be submitting very soon another nominee to carry on with the good work of anti-corruption, especially now that we are very proud of him as the African Union Anti-Corruption Ambassador”.
BusinessDay gathered that aside the President’s request on confirmation of MPC nominees of the CBN, over 40 nominees are pending at the Senate.
They include heads and board members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Pension Commission (PenCom), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) among others.
In July 2017, the Senate suspended confirmation of executive nominees not expressly stated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) until the Presidency relieves Ibrahim Magu of his duties as Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This, it said, was in line with his rejection by the lawmakers which screened and found him unsuitable for the office on two occasions – December 2016 and March 2017.
Also, senators insisted that the Presidency must withdraw its earlier remarks that the Senate lacked the powers to confirm executive nominees.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja