Debating an Act which federal lawmakers described as a “bad law”, the House of Representatives yesterday moved to reduce the powers of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) specifically, in the areas of appropriation and constitution of the bank’s board.
This comes a week after a similar move by the Senate resolving to drastically reduce the powers of the Central Bank, its governor, and other key officials.
The CBN Act – which lawmakers seek to review – vests the responsibility of considering and approving of annual budget on the Board of the bank. The CBN by virtue of the Act establishing it is insulated from the powers of appropriation and control of public funds domiciled in the Legislature – leaving room for arbitrary expenditure, lawmakers insist.
At Wednesday’s plenary, a Bill for an Act to Amend the CBN Act, 2007 to appoint a person other than the Governor as the chairman of the board of the bank passed second reading. Also, the Bill if finally passed will exclude Deputy Governors and directors as members of the Board.
In debates, all in support, lawmakers described as an anomaly a case where the National Assembly is prevented from scrutinising the budget of the CBN as is the case with all agencies of government which are required to submit their budgetary estimates to the National Assembly for consideration.
Sanusi’s recent controversial cash donations to Kano State bomb victims, and the University of Benin received widespread disapproval. The Lower House passed a resolution condemning the donations, and called for investigations.
“I see clearly the usurpation of the powers of appropriation of parliament” The Lower House Deputy Majority Leader, Leo Ogor, said. According to Ogor, the review of the CBN Act was necessary to ensure that the apex bank was answerable to the people.