The House of Representatives on Tuesday insisted that the central bank of Nigeria must not continue its cash withdrawal policy.
Although CBN Gov. Godwin Emefiele failed to appear before the House of Representatives for the second time, lawmakers said their Dec. 8 directive to Apex Bank to put the policy on hold has not changed.
Amid protests and condemnations, lawmakers postponed the CBN governor’s appearance to Thursday (tomorrow).
However, reviews by The PUNCH showed that despite the lawmakers’ resolution, the apex bank had not issued a counter-directive to banks and other financial institutions stopping the policy.
The House of Representatives, at its Dec. 8 plenary session, asked Emefiele to appear before it last Thursday to explain the CBN’s latest policy, which includes restricting cash withdrawals from deposit money banks and other financial institutions.
Among other things, the CBN stated in a statement on December 6 that from January 9, 2023, the amounts that individuals and companies could withdraw per week would not exceed N100,000 and N500,000 respectively.
Lawmakers wanted to grill Emefiele on politics last Thursday, but he failed to appear in the green chamber.
Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, CBN Edward Adamu told lawmakers in a statement that Emefiele was part of the President’s entourage, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on an official trip to the United States.
Deputy Speaker of the House Ahmed Wase, who read the letter at the opening of the plenary session, said Gbajabiamila postponed Emefiele’s appearance until Tuesday (yesterday).
Opening Tuesday’s plenary session, House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila told members that Emefiele would not appear before them.
Gbajabiamila said: “First of all, I think it is important that I notify the House of Representatives because the House of Representatives decided a few weeks ago, and in accordance with the Central Bank Act and the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution; we invited the governor of the central bank to brief us on policy and operations last Thursday; to brief the House on both the naira redesign and, more importantly, the new cash policy.
“The Fed Governor was due to arrive last Thursday but wrote to the House that he was unavoidably absent as he was in the United States on an official visit to Mr. President. The House wrote back to give him a different date since he was officially traveling with Mr. President, and that different date was 10:00 am today, Tuesday.
“Just yesterday I received a letter from the Central Bank…in fact the clerk (to the House) received a letter which I have with me. It was not addressed to me but to the clerk as he was the one who wrote the letter of invitation in the first place.”
The announcer went on to read the latest letter from Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, CBN, Edward Adamu, entitled “Renewed Invitation to Briefing.”
It read in part: “We refer to your letter of 15 December 2022 inviting the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to appear before the House of Representatives on a new date, Tuesday 20 December 2022 to appear.
“Regrettably, the governor is not available at this time to brief the House of Representatives as he has other pre-scheduled official engagements that he is currently addressing overseas.
“Accordingly, he has requested that we respectfully inform him of his inability to accept the invitation to the rescheduled appointment. The governor regrets this and will be contacting the House of Representatives once he returns to the country from his official assignment.”
Gbajabiamila then sought members’ views on the next course of action.
A member of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Gagdi, said he would not comment on the policy “but on your powers and our powers and the need to respect the Nigerian people”.
He stated that the creators of the constitution made no mistake in creating the house to hold public office holders accountable for their activities on behalf of Nigerians.
Gagdi said: “I think at this point it is very important for us to let such public office holders know that it is not the Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila who is the CBN Governor or the Honorable Yusuf Gagdi or the Deputy Spokesman or anyone member calls ; It is the collective whims of the Nigerian people that invite the CBN Governor to come and explain some of the policies that the Nigerian people need an explanation of.
“I’m not against any politics, but I’m against disrespect towards you and the Nigerian people. The speaker is a symbol of this house and the Nigerian people. So if you don’t respect Mr Speaker, you don’t respect the Nigerian people; They don’t respect the house.”
The announcer interjected that he wanted to put the matter in the right context.
Gbajabiamila said: “The invitation did not come from the Speaker, the invitation came from the House; this is one. Second, to be fair, by the time the invite was sent out, he was already officially out of the country. So I don’t want to see it as disrespectful.
“He was already out of the country. I see what you’re saying… once, twice, and a third time, there can’t be. And I don’t think he can be out of the country that long. I just think that we can name another date on Thursday.”
Dissatisfied, Gagdi explained: “Mr. Sprecher, we have to protect names. As much as I agree with you 100 per cent and will be guided, I would also like to say that we should keep an eye on the impression that the House is making out there.
“I have to commend the House for inviting him in the first instance in the first place. But Mr. Sprecher, you are coming together for a policy that will begin in the next few weeks. I believe coming back to address some of these daunting challenges is more important than anything else they do.
“It is important for the CBN Governor to know that we will not tolerate any more excuses regarding not showing up at the House to explain some of these policies to the Nigerian people.”
In his submission, Femi Bamisile said he agrees with Gbajabiamila and urged other lawmakers to be patient with the CBN governor.
Also, Abdulganiyu asked Olododo-Cook if the House was certain Emefiele would appear on Thursday, the last plenary session of the year.
Gbajabiamila noted that the most important thing is that the House “receives proper, full briefing and it is the CBN Governor’s responsibility to brief this House in accordance with the law.”
He said Olododo-Cook raised a valid point about Emefiele staying out of the country beyond Thursday.
The spokesman said: “At this point we will ask to find out what this official task is that will keep the CBN governor away for almost two weeks. I would like to know this official order at this critical juncture in Nigeria that will keep him out for two weeks.”
“In my humble opinion, since this House will most likely also be closing on Thursday for the Christmas holidays, we should decide to invite the CBN Governor to brief this House on Thursday morning. And if for some reason it turns out that he is inevitably out of the country on Thursday and has an assistant governor or someone well equipped to brief this House fully, then we will not put that off until next year. So the CBN governor for Thursday or his deputy who is armed with all the facts,” he said.
However, minority leader Ndudi Elumelu reminded members that the resolution to suspend politics was still in force whether or not Emefiele showed up.
Elumelu argued, “Mr. Speaker, I think we’re missing something here. The house has now taken position. The only question of his coming was to fulfill all righteousness in accordance with the law. We have already passed a resolution asking him to suspend the implementation of this policy. And the Senate also approved our resolution.
“Whether he comes or not, we passed a resolution asking him to suspend him and the Senate has agreed. We should therefore check whether he will disregard the simultaneous decision of both chambers. I think we should work towards that and step up this until he appears in front of us to inform the House.”
Gbajabiamila agreed with the minority leader that both resolutions stand.
In his post, Majority Leader Alhassan Ado-Doguwa urged lawmakers to give Emefiele another chance on Thursday.
Asked if banks would continue their preparations for the start of the new cash withdrawal limits on January 9, 2023, President of the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks, the umbrella organization of banks’ spokespersons, Mr Rasheed Bolarinwa said: “Yes, Deposit Money banks have by this time prepared to implement the policy effective January 9, 2023 unless otherwise specified by the CBN.”
Efforts to get comments from CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, were unsuccessful as he did not respond to a text message sent to him regarding the House of Representatives policy and calls went through.
Meanwhile, northern youth under the Arewa Youth Assembly umbrella on Tuesday said criminal-leaning politicians opposed to cash withdrawal limits policies were directing the Ministry of Public Services’ alleged failed arrest of the CBN governor.
The youth said the World Bank, Internal Monetary Fund, African Development and other development partners “should step in to save Nigeria and pay special attention to what is happening inside CBN and its governor to ensure his tenure is not derailed on false accusations.” is shortened”.
AYA publicity secretary Alhaji Ali Muhammad, speaking at a press conference in Abuja, labeled those opposed to CBN’s new policy as enemies of the country.
He therefore called on the President to immediately dismiss the Director General of the DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
The Arewa youths claimed that politicians who had amassed funds to rig the 2023 election were behind the move to remove the CBN governor.