I am compelled to make this public statement to address the various allegations levied against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and cited as the reasons for my suspension from office as the Governor of the CBN on the 19th of February 2014.
i. Briefing Note of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) dated 7th June 2013, Ref: PRES/188/T&I/89 to His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan [the Briefing Note];
ii. The Letter of Suspension dated 19th February 2014, which I received from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; and
iii. The petition dated 9th February 2014 by Mr Erastus Akingbola.
However, before I go into the above issues, let me reiterate for the records, the achievements of the CBN during my tenure as the Governor:
Firstly, let me state that I have been extremely fortunate to have had a solid and supportive team led by the Deputy Governors and supported by the Departmental Directors, as well as thousands of hardworking and dedicated staff who must be given the credit for all that the CBN has achieved. I would also like to acknowledge for the record, the foundation laid by my predecessor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, in a number of areas. The CBN Act, 2007, which he championed, established the CBN as a truly autonomous entity of the Federation, and made it possible for us to take the difficult decisions necessary for restoring and maintaining macroeconomic stability. The FSS 2020 and PSV 2020 documents provided the principal strategic roadmaps that led to many of the innovations in payment systems, non-interest banking, financial inclusion, the Asset Management Corporation, IFRS, Risk-based Supervision, and the like.
Indeed, it will be impossible for me to review almost five years of revolutionary change made possible by the work of thousands of employees in the CBN in collaboration with other Regulators, Banks and Other Financial Institutions and Government Ministries in this press statement. However, I will mention a few of the key highlights.
On monetary policy, the Bank has improved the institutional framework for policy-making. A properly constituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) with a clear mandate for maintaining stability has been established. The MPC has been supported by improvements in research, data and forecasting capacity, and we have also paid attention to clear communication of our objectives to the market. As a result, headline inflation has remained below 10 per cent since January 2013, from a peak of 15.1 percent and 13.9 percent in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Core inflation declined from 11.2 per cent in December 2009 to 7.9 percent in December 2013, while food inflation maintained a downward trend from 15.5 percent in December 2009 to 9.3 percent in December 2013. In addition to the conventional liquidity management products, the Bank approved financial products to manage liquidity in non-interest financial institutions. The CBN also promoted the formation of the financial Markets Dealers Quotations Over–the-Counter (FQDM OTC) Plc as a self-regulatory OTC operator.
In the area of safeguarding the value of the local currency and maintaining stability in the foreign exchange market for the overall sustenance of macroeconomic stability and growth, the CBN over the period has successfully maintained a stable exchange rate regime and a robust external reserve position conducive to sustainable growth and development.
On the Banking System, I was appointed Governor in the middle of a global financial crisis when the Nigerian banking system was on the verge of collapse. The Bank moved swiftly to remove the managing directors and executive directors of the banks where major corporate governance failures were discovered, provided liquidity support, pioneered the setting up of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to purchase non-performing loans, recapitalize the banks and pilot a process that led to mergers and acquisitions, as well as recapitalization of all the weak and failing banks. As a result, all financial soundness indicators – Capital Adequacy, Asset Quality, Liquidity and Profitability ratios – were normalized. As a result of the work by the Bank, not a single depositor or creditor lost money in any Nigerian bank during or after the financial crisis.
In addition to the quantitative measures, we broke up universal banks and encouraged the setting up of specialized banks (including the first Non – interest Bank in the Country’s history), pushed for the adoption of IFRS and Basel 3, enhanced risk-based supervision, issued Competency Guidelines for the staff in the banking industry, established a Consumer Protection Department and developed a Financial Inclusion Strategy and Roadmap, among others for the CBN.
The Bank implemented policies aimed at reducing the excessive use of cash in the system to ensure safety, improve efficiency and curb money laundering. The transformation of NIBSS, the insistence on interoperability of channels, encouragement of electronic banking, the licensing of Mobile Money Operators, the Agent Banking and tiered-KYC frameworks have all led to rapid growth in volume and value of non-cash transaction and enhanced financial inclusion.
The Bank has played its leadership role in ensuring industry compliance with environmental sustainability and governance standards, including a strong focus on women and the handicapped.
The CBN in the last five years has taken a leading role in providing long-term low-cost funding to priority sectors of the Nigerian economy in a bid to help in bringing to reality the Transformation Agenda of the government of your Excellency. We have provided these funds at single-digit interest rates to micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as to companies operating in the power, aviation, and agricultural sectors of the economy, and also to large industrial enterprises with potential for structural transformation.
The Bank has invested in human capital, improved staff welfare and attracted and retained specialized skills in the areas of Banking Supervision, Information Technology, Shared Services and Risk Management.
On Financial Performance, the Bank has in the last five years kept a lid on overheads and cost of currency management. As a result, the Bank has continued to produce sterling results and contributed substantially to the Federal Budget. In the five years, 2009 – 2013, the Bank contributed N376 billion to the Federal Budget as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).Based on 2012 financials alone, we paid N80 billion to the Ministry of Finance. On the basis of the 2013 results and at the request of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy (CME), we paid N159 billion to the Ministry of Finance in February this year; the same month the audited accounts of the CBN were approved by the Committee of Governors (COG). Indeed, due to the precarious position of Government finances, the CBN in February 2014, upon the request of the CME, gave the Ministry a further ‘Advance IGR’ of N70 billion in anticipation of 2014 profits.
May I add that, in 2008, the year before my appointment, the CBN contributed N8 billion to the Federation Account. Although the Bank is not a profit-centre, in the first four years of my term, the Bank alone contributed 75 percent of the total IGR paid by MDAs leading to commendation by the House Committee on Finance at several Public Hearings.
As a result of these achievements of my colleagues and staff, we received numerous recognitions consistently throughout my tenure from highly-regarded publications. These awards are based on a competitive process where analysts and economists rank Central Bank Governors across regions and the globe.
In 2010, The Banker Magazine, a publication of Financial Times in London, named me Best Central Bank Governor in the World and Best in Africa. At the Annual World Bank/IMF Meetings, Emerging Markets, a publication of Euromoney Institutional Investor named me Best Central Bank Governor in Sub-Saharan Africa for 2009, 2010 and 2012. The African Banker Magazine named me Best Central Bank Governor in Africa, 2012. This is in addition to being named Forbes Africa Person of the year 2011 and listed by TIME as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, 2011.
I have always regarded these honours not as personal accolades, but as a tribute to our nation and the committed and resourceful women and men of CBN.
Response to the allegations in relation to my suspension
On Wednesday 10th March 2014, I submitted a Memorandumto His Excellency, Mr President, with supporting documentation,effectively addressing all the allegations contained in the FRCN Briefing Note, the Letter of Suspension and the Akingbola Petition.
Having submitted my response to the President, I am further compelled, following the recent press briefing and comments by the Senior Special Adviserto the President on Media, as well as numerous other references to the allegations in both local, international and online media, to put to the public my responses, in the interest of transparency, accountability and my responsibility to the Nigerian people.Let me also state that I saw the FRCN “Briefing Note” for the first time when it was attached to the suspension letter. At no time was this report sent to the CBN either by the President or the FRCN for comments or explanations. As for the Akingbola petition, it is a rehash of baseless allegations he has been making since 2010 which apparently he must have been asked to reproduce on February 9, ten days before the suspension. It is indeed strange that the CBN Governor can be suspended based on allegations written by a man who ran his bank into the ground and against whom judgement has been obtained in a London court, and who furthermore is facing criminal prosecution at home for offences including criminal Theft.
A careful examination of the allegations contained in the FRCN Briefing Note to Mr President, will show that each of the allegations could easily have been resolved by a simple request for clarification or more careful review. There is no doubt that if the CBN had received the Briefing Note, which was prepared in June 2013, all the misconceptions, misrepresentations and erroneous inferences contained therein would have been cleared.
I am publishing these responses to enable the general public see that each and every allegation levelled against the CBN under my leadership is false and unfounded, and that many of the allegations were malicious and fabricated, having been designed to mislead the President into believing that the Management of the Central Bank was guilty of misconduct and recklessness.
Having provided detailed explanations, backed by verifiable documents, it is my sincere wish that His Excellency, Mr President, in line with his adherence to fairness and justice, will apply the same rationale and rigour to other agencies of the Federal Government that have had serious allegations and queries levied against them, and prevail upon them to provide responses and explanations with the same level of clarity and transparency.
In closing, I would like to place on record the dogged professionalism and patriotism of the staff of the CBN. They have, over the years, conducted themselves very creditably, and discharged their duties with the highest integrity.