Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has said that the incessant summons on him to appear before different committees of the National Assembly were becoming too much to bear.
Speaking when he appeared before the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Finance, Legislative Budget and Research, National Planning and Aids, Loans and Debt Management over the 2013-2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) yesterday in Abuja, Sanusi said that no previous CBN governor had been so frequently invited like him. He told his hosts that his itineraries were being obstructed.
“I don’t think there has been any CBN governor that has been brought here (the National Assembly) as much as me. I have even offered to be moved, or open my annex office here. Nobody asks me how my itineraries are before inviting me.”
The CBN governor was responding to observations made by a member of the panel, and chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, Rep. Opeyemi Bamidele (ACN, Ekiti) who wanted to know why it was always difficult for the CBN governor to honour their invitation without making an issue out of it, or refusing to come at the appropriate date and time.
Sanusi was to appear before the joint committee on Tuesday but some high ranking officers of the CBN went instead, only to be turned back by the legislators who insisted that the CBN governor makes a personal appearance. He told the committee yesterday that he was not aware of the invitation.
Lead chairman of the joint committees Rep Abdulmumin Jibrin (PDP, Kano), said the panel had to insist that Sanusi appears in person because the Central Bank plays a very important role in the overall economic decisions of government.
“You must come and explain things to help our understanding of the fundamentals of our economic decisions,” Rep Jibrin said.
“You don’t devalue the institution of the National Assembly because it will outlive all of us.”
Sanusi then stroke a joke, saying he envied Rep. Abdulmumin’s position as the chairman of the committee because it wields a lot of powers, and that when he retires as CBN governor, he may consider contesting election for the House of Representatives.
Just yesterday the Senate also summoned the CBN Governor alongside the minister of finance Dr Igozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Accountant General of the Federation for allegedly withholding funds meant for the Petroluem Technology Development Fund.
The apex bank’s boss also denied having any rift with the National Assembly as being insinuated in some quotas saying, “I don’t have problem with you.”
It would be recalled that in 2010 Sanusi raised the alarm when he delivered a lecture at the University of Benin in which he said National Assembly members get 25 percent of Federal Government’s overhead vote.
The submission appeared to have marked the beginning of a very frosty relationship between him and the national legislators who are currently working on a bill to whittle down powers of the CBN governor.
Last year, the House also summoned Sanusi over the controversial cashless policy and the introduction of the non-interest banking system. However, Sanusi insisted and went ahead with the policies.
Also, in February this year, the CBN boss refused to submit the apex bank’s annual budget estimate to the National Assembly for legislative scrutiny as provided for by law.
He rather wrote a letter to the House committee on Banking and Currency on 10th February 2012, informing it that the National Assembly had donated its appropriation powers to the CBN board in the CBN Act of 2007 and as such he does not require the approval of the legislature to pass his budget.
Infuriated by Sanusi’s comments, the legislators increased their momentum to curtail the powers of the CBN by initiating amendments to the CBN Act 2007 to insert clauses that will compel the apex bank to forward its annual budget to the parliament. The amendment bills have since passed second reading in both Senate and House of Representatives.
As if that was not enough, during the investigative hearing on the “near collapse” of the Nigerian capital market by an ad-hoc committee led by Rep. Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi (PDP, Taraba), Sanusi again, refused to submit some documents requested by the panel arguing that the law does not compel him to do so.
Consequently, the committee recommended that he be charged to court for contempt of parliament. The report was adopted by the House in plenary on July 19th 2012. However, implementation lies squarely on the table of the President, who Sanusi work for.
Last month, the two chambers also banged their legislative hammer on the botched N5000 note and currency restructuring proposed by the CBN when they passed resolutions on September 18th asking President Jonathan to stop him from printing and issuing the new note. The president fainally acceded to the demand and suspended the plan.