Proposed Amendments Aim to Ensure Greater Accountability and Transparency
In a significant move, the Nigerian Senate has passed a bill for a second reading, aiming to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act to restrict serving governors from engaging in partisan politics. The bill, titled “Central Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) (Amendment) Bill 2023,” was sponsored by Senator Steve Karimi (APC – Kogi West), and a second bill titled “A Bill to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, and for matters connected therewith, 2023” was presented by Senator Darlington Nwokocha (LP – Abia Central).
The impetus for this legislative action stems from the recent controversy involving the immediate past CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who attempted to run for the 2023 presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while still in office. This move received widespread condemnation, prompting Senators Karimi and Nwokocha to propose amendments to the CBN Act.
Senator Karimi, in the explanatory memorandum of his bill, clarified that the amendment seeks to enhance accountability and transparency in the operations of the CBN. Additionally, it aims to prohibit the use of foreign currency in local transactions within Nigeria. The proposed amendment to section 9(2) of the CBN Act explicitly states that the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Bank should refrain from participating directly or indirectly in partisan politics during their tenure.
Furthermore, Senator Karimi’s bill suggests an amendment to Section 20 of the CBN Act, introducing Section 20(A), which includes provisions for penalties. It proposes a fine of N250,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or both for individual offenders. Corporate entities would face a fine of N1,000,000, with a conviction period of three months for their officers or directors who authorized or undertook transactions violating the proposed restrictions.
In his lead debate, Senator Nwokocha emphasized that the amendments aim to rectify anomalies hindering the advancement of the apex bank in handling the nation’s economy. He articulated, “The thrust of this amendment is to create a people-centered Central Bank by delivering price and financial system stability and promoting sustainable economic development.”
This legislative move reflects the Senate’s commitment to fostering accountability, transparency, and non-partisan conduct within the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
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