The Senate, yesterday, relaxed its ban on screening and confirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees to political offices, by resolving to screen and confirm two Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) deputy governor nominees. Others to be screened and confirmed include nominees to constitute 12 membership of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) only.
The Senate had, in March 2017, resolved that it would not honour any request of Buhari to screen and confirm his nominees to executive positions in parastatals and agencies of government due to the President’s refusal to sack the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu. This is because the Sen- ate twice rejected the nomination of Magu, as a result of unfavourable report written against him by the Department of State Services (DSS). The DSS had forwarded a security report to the apex legislative chamber, saying that Magu was unfit to head the anti-graft agency, especially under a government that said that it was out to fight corruption. Buhari defied the position of the Senate on Magu by allowing him to remain in office in acting capacity, a treatment that offended the Chamber, compelling the lawmakers to take the stringent decision against the President.
But citing orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking and Other Financial Institutions, Rafiu Ibrahim (APCKwara North), appealed to the Senate to reconsider its resolution on the screening and confirmation of presidential appointees, with particular reference to the CBN and MPC nominees. His words: “I rise on the issue pertaining to a very significant aspect of the country’s economy, knowing that from inception, the 8th Senate is pro-economy, pro-foreign direct investment, and pro-foreign controlling investment.
“We are all aware that in January, because of the resolution of this Senate, that all confirmation according to all acts of the National Assembly pending with us should be suspended forthwith. “I rise to ask that the Senate do consider the possibility of us taking the very important aspect of the economy which is the Monetary Policy Committee. The MPC is made up of 12 members; about seven from the private sector and five inside the Central Bank.
“As of today, only three of them are valid. Almost all other members, their tenure expired by December last year and that culminated into the MPC meeting not being held on January 22nd and 23rd and the next meeting is March 19 and 20. “I want to appeal to our colleagues. We have three requests regarding the Board of the Central Bank; two deputy governors who are also members of MPC and MPC members who are majorly in the private sector.
“MPC is a creation of the CBN Act which is autonomous. It is not run by the Board of Central Bank, but each meeting of every two months bothers on the economy. As it is today, it’s already affecting the foreign direct investment into Nigeria. Some foreign portfolio investments are already leaving, some that are supposed to come, are not coming.
“I just want to appeal that we take only the aspect that affects the MPC, which is the independent members and the two deputy governors that are members of the MPC so the committee can continue to sit and direct the affairs of the financial sector which is the heart of the economy.”
Seconding the motion, the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’allah, noted that the Senate has a commitment to cooperate fully with the Federal Government on everything that relates to the economy and good governance of the country.
Also Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said that given the vital role played by the apex bank in the economy of the nation, the Red Chamber should relax its hard stance on screening nominees to the position of deputy governors of CBN and board members of MPC. In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, commended his colleagues for bending their decision on the screening and confirmation of the nominees to the apex bank.
Meanwhile, the Senate has said there was no date yet for the passage of the 2018 Budget. Senate’s spokesperson, Sabi, said this while addressing newsmen in Abuja. He said: “The budget process is on and I can’t tell you this is the specific date it is going to end.
“We are working very hard on it and we want to assure Nigerians that at the end of the day, we will have a budget that will serve the purpose of Nigerians.” On the upper chamber’s resolution to lift embargo on confirmation of presidential nominees, the lawmaker said: “There was an existing impasse between the Executive and the Legislature with respect to confirmation hearing of appointees of the Executive. “We had a resolution that since the executive is claiming we don’t have the powers to make those confirmations, we are not going to consider the nominees they are forwarding to us.
This happened since last year. “We will also consider the nomination of the two deputy governors of CBN who are also members of the MPC so that the Nigerian economy will receive the necessary technical input to ensure that we sustain the growth of our economy. “We are definitely going to do the confirmation to enable those confirmed to attend the next MPC meeting,” Abdullahi said. The MPC meeting is scheduled to hold on March 19 and 20.