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Nigeria: Three Bank Cheifs quit NESG Board over stance on CBN’s economic interventions

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of three prominent banks have resigned their membership of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) board.

They resigned on Wednesday in protest against the NESG’s position against some of the measures taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stabilise the financial system and fast-track economic recovery.

NESG General Meeting

The apex bank had also initiated a chain of policies to mitigate the negative impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on Nigerians.

Those who resigned from the NESG board are United Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc Group Managing Director Kennedy Uzoka; First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc Managing Director Adesola Adeduntan and Sterling Bank Plc Managing Director Abubakar Suleiman.

United Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka

Suleiman runs Sterling Bank, where Asue Ighodalo, who is the chair of the NESG board, also serves as Chairman.

Apart from Ighodalo, others on the NESG board are: Niyi Yusuf (Vice-Chairman);  Mrs. Onyeche Tifase (Vice-Chairman) and  Laoye Jaiyeola (CEO).

On Tuesday, the NESG criticised CBN’s intervention policies as not being in the interest of the economy.

The resignation of the NESG Board members is believed among financial experts to be the confirmation of the eroding credibility of the private sector-led think tank and policy advocacy group under the current leadership.

It was learnt that the NESG management’s criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government policies and the Godwin Emefiele-led CBN have created disagreements among its members.

CBN Roundtable

It was gathered that the group’s Tuesday statement entitled: “Matters of Urgent Attention”, which did not have the input of members of the Board, draw the ire of members and triggered the latest uproar.

In a report, the NESG said since the inception of this administration, agriculture and the need to ensure zero hunger for Nigerians have received considerable attention.

But the group added that despite the budgetary allocations and huge sums of money disbursed by the CBN through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), a huge gap remains in meeting the food requirements.

Noting the evolving developmental roles of central banks around the world, especially as it concerns resource allocations, the NESG said such allocative roles must be undertaken in an open, transparent and fair manner.

The NESG also expressed severe concerns about certain provisions of the ‘repealed and re-enacted’ Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020; recently passed by the National Assembly, and in the process of being transmitted to the President for assent.

The NESG pointed out distortions in the liquidity and interest rate management of the financial system it said portents grave disadvantage to domestic investors and pensioners.

However, the CBN fired back, saying its intervention policies were necessary to keep the economy going in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also said similar interventions were extended to other developed and developing economies by their central banks.

Nigeria In Focus:

Population - 206.6 million (Compared to South Africa's 59.6 million)

GDP: $504.57 billion (Compared to South Africa's $369.85 billion)

GDP Per Capita: $2,465 (Compared to South Africa's $6,193)