•Set to screen CBN’s MPC appointees
Fred Itua, Abuja
Almost one year after it resolved that nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari not captured in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), will no longer be considered, following a statement credited to Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Senate made a U-turn, yesterday.
After a closed-door meeting, which lasted for more than 30 minutes, the Red Chamber said it will consider and confirm nominees to fill vacant positions in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Currently, there are over 40 pending nominations pending before the Senate.
Key among the president’s nominations that have been kept in view by the Senate, as a result of the impasse, include two nominees for the position of deputy governors of the CBN and four members of the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
Besides the CBN, other nominations, including those of heads and board members of the Pension Commission (PenCom), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), were also kept in abeyance.
The MPC is an engine room for the effective delivery of the functions of the CBN and it holds meetings twice a month and six times a year.
Currently, the apex bank has no quorum to hold the mandatory MPC meeting.
When it failed to hold the January 2018 meeting, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said an earlier scheduled MPC meeting slated for January 22-23 was cancelled due to the bank’s inability to form a quorum, as stipulated in the CBN Act, 2007.
Emefiele said a revised schedule of the MPC meeting would now hold next week; if Senate is able to confirm the nominees.
Relying on a point of order raised by Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, who heads Banking committee, after the closed-door session, Senate resolved to lift the ban to avoid another economic meltdown in the country.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who presided at plenary, said the chamber took the decision in the best interest of the country.
“The CBN is the engine room of the country. We cannot and will not allow Nigeria to walk into another recession. I am sure that by this decision, the CBN will be able to hold its meeting next week,” Saraki said.
In his earlier argument, Ibrahim made a strong case on why the embargo on confirmation of Buhari’s nominees should be lifted.
“We are all aware that in January 2017, because of the resolution of this Senate, all confirmations, according to all Acts of the National Assembly pending with us, were suspended forthwith.
“I rise to ask that Senate do consider the possibility of us taking the very important aspect of the economy, which is the Monetary Policy Committee.
“The MPC is made up of 12 members, about seven from the private sector and five from CBN.
“As at today (yesterday), only three are valid. For almost all other members, their tenure expired in December 2017 which culminated in the MPC meeting not being held in January (22nd and 23rd) and the next meeting is March 19 and 20.
“I want to appeal to our colleagues. We have three requests regarding the board of CBN; two deputy governors, who are also members of MPC and MPC members who are majorly in the private sector.”