The National Assembly currently has the Central Bank Amendment under its lens and the restless vigor they put to this bill only reminds one of its anti-gay equivalent. Under the current arrangement, the Central Bank Governor doubles Chairman of the Board of Directors. The Deputy Governors and some other independent directors make up the rest. The budget, operations and functions are handled by the CBN Board but the bravado of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi especially the recent donations to bomb victims, the legislative hatchet dangles on the apex bank. To ensure a firm Board with checks and balances, the CBN Act mandates all the Board members to appear before it for screening but its seems in the public glare that Sanusi has overpowered the board making the rest, simple yes-men .
With the past accusation by Sanusi of the profligacy of the legislators that gave him a ride on populism, the National Assembly was in a tangle with the apex bank over its budget. The CBN Governor showed up with aggregate mid-term figures that conversed nothing. Sanusi was expected to be dressed down when his budget is scrutinized but he brought the rules to the bear. Under the law that sets up CBN, he proposes and approves the budget. However the National Assembly opines that its clause conflicts with the Appropriation Act and this amendment settles it all. Quietly, CBN runs a mini-territory pitching to the world the need for its independence.
Now it all seems like a proxy war between the National Assembly and unfortunately Sanusi’s serial verbose stance might derail the institution whose independence is critical to developing long term solutions critical for economic growth. Beyond the budget shrouded in secrecy unlike its American counterpart published here, the new proposed CBN board could have Accountant General, retired Bank CEO, permanent secretaries and their representatives on Board. In short, we are peering at a civil service dominated board whose strings could be tapped by the misinformed politicians.
One will need to thoroughly stalk Ben Bernanke or Mervyn King, the central bankers of United States and Britain to listen to their well thought opinions. Unlike our Central Bank Governor having rendered opinions without control, Sanusi has brought scrutiny to himself and directed the revered institution he represents to the legislative matchet. Spurious donations followed bombings, unnecessary speech about Boko Haram and linking marginalization with derivation fund has desecrated the ‘papal’ nature of the office.
To tame himself and his iterations from spending on impulse, the CBN’s budget needs to thoroughly go public. However while the legislators are exploring the need to tweak CBN governance structure (See here) and they should not trample on the statutory objective of the Central Bank which centers on price control. Putting civil servants who second-guess decisions for expedient political reasons might be dangerous for broader role of the Central Bank in the economy .While they might harbor anger at his needed outrage at them on their exploitative ovrheads, the legislators should understand Sanusi is a journeyman kept in charge of the national purse for a fixed limit. In the future, I wish him well in fulfilling his lifelong dream as the Emir of Kano or take up a social crusader job which aptly sizes him. The legislators need to tame their emotional outburst that rides over reason and possibly could take a sober institution to the dunghill.