Supreme Court Adjourns Hearing On Naira Crisis
The Supreme Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday adjourned a hearing in the suit banning the use of the old naira to Wednesday, 22nd February 2023.
The three states filed the suit against the Federal Government seeking a restraining order to stop the full implementation of the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
In a new development, nine states have filed to join the suit initially filed by Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states.
The states are Katsina, Lagos, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Sokoto states bringing the new total of plaintiffs to ten.
On the other hand, Edo and Bayelsa have filed to be joined as respondents.
The seven-man panel led by Justice John Okoro ordered them to amend their processes to be heard as one.
Meanwhile, pending hearing, the old order to suspend the ban of the now older 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes subsist.
Reports state that a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court last Wednesday in a unanimous ruling granted an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing the CBN’s February 10 deadline for the swapping of the old naira notes with the new ones.
The judgement followed a motion ex-parte on behalf of three northern states Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, who on February 3rd filed a suit seeking to halt the implementation of the CBN’s policy.
On February 8, 2022, it was reported that Federal High Court in Abuja stopped the President, Major General Muhammadu Buahri (retd.), alongside the CBN and commercial banks from interfering, suspending or extending the terminal date of February 10 for the expiration of the old naira notes.
Before Wednesday’s hearing, the Presidency said that neither the government nor the CBN had taken a stand on the continued use of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes as legal tenders seeing that the case was still pending before the Supreme Court.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the FG would make its position on the new naira policy known after the determination of the suit on Wednesday.
In a response to our correspondent on Tuesday, he said “Following series of enquiries, we wish to state that it is not true that the FG or the CBN has taken a pre-emptive action on the legality of currency as a legal tender in view of the pendency of the case before the Supreme Court.
“We wish to state that it is not true that the Federal Government or the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN have taken a preemptive action on the legality of currency as a legal tender in view of the pendency of the case before the Supreme Court.
The position of the government and the CBN will be made known upon the determination of the suit coming up tomorrow.”
Federal Government Removes National Inland Waterways Authority From IPPIS
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has become autonomous as the federal government removed the agency from the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
LEADERSHIP reports that the IPPIS is responsible for payment of salaries and wages directly to government employees’ bank accounts with appropriate deductions and remittances.
Disclosing this to newsmen, the Chairman, Board of Director, NIWA, Senator Binta Garba, said that NIWA exiting IPPIS would allow them raise revenue and remit to the federation account
Sen. Garba, however, urged NIWA Lagos to increase its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), from N1billion to N2billion yearly.
She said, “The joy that I have is that NIWA is now autonomous. They can now raise revenue to take care of themselves and also give a fraction into the federal government coffers. I want to thank the NIWA MD for putting some structure down and enhancing the status of NIWA and making the staff happier than they used to be, that will make them do more for the agency.”
“Whatever they need, they should prioritise their needs and the MD will look into them. From N600million revenue, they have exceeded the N1billion mark in Lagos, we are now trying to see whether we can go into the N2billion range, definitely, they should be encouraged.”
She also stated that the agency’s Lagos Area Office is becoming too small for its operations, assuring that efforts would be geared towards improving facilities at the disposal of the Area Office in Lagos.
“Of course, there is need for change in the NIWA Lagos Office and as the area manager told us about the IGR they have been able to generate over the years into the Federal Government coffers, then there is need for comfort for the workers at the Lagos Office of NIWA. If an area brings in more funds, the onus lies on the agency to ensure that such area needs are taken care of.
“In our meeting with the workers, they told us many challenges that they will like us to help them fix. Even the office that we sat in is becoming too small for them. If we want to continue to get the best from these workers, we need to attend to their needs. They raised issues like more operational vehicles, patrol boats, provision of Slip-Way for vessel repair, generator amongst other things.”
Also speaking, the managing director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, explained that the agency will grow stronger after its exit from the Federal Government IPPIS.
He said, “Our leaving the IPPIS is a basis to work harder and make more money. This is because we are now going to pay ourselves.
If we want to starve, then we will starve. If we want to get our salaries, then we’ll work harder to get our salaries. I think we have taken a strong position and before we took the position, we have agreed amongst ourselves, management and staff that this is the time to move forward.
“We in NIWA believes very strongly that the marine has many potentials that we need to key into to be able to expand those aspects of our economy. We are doing everything we can to be able to achieve that. We realised that the resources available to do that will not be able to meet up. We have opened contacts with agencies and companies that are interested in working with us.”
In her welcome address, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr Sarat Braimah, said that despite being located in the centre of business in Lagos, the Area Office is due for a remodel.
“The Lagos Office of NIWA is due for a remodel. Also, our generator is over 20years old and due for a change. We also need more security to man our jetties.
“We also need more operational vehicles because naturally, people don’t want to pay tax. You have to chase them around to ensure they pay. So, we need more operational vehicles to do this.”
“We also need a Slip-Way. We currently don’t have any in Lagos, and that’s why most of our marine boats are not getting adequate repairs. The Slipway we are currently using is owned by a client, but we need our own Slip-Way.
“We also need to establish our presence in Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry and Agbara. We currently don’t have jetties in these places. We only have in Marina, Tin-Can, Apapa and Maroko. That is all that we have. We need more jetties in areas where we currently lack presence,” Engr Braimah lamented.
CBN: IMF Calls For Review Of 2007 Act
The International Monetary Fund has called for a review of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 to strengthen the bank’s autonomy and governance.
IMF made the call in the latest report titled ‘Nigeria: 2022 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Nigeria’.
The call for a modern review of the CBN Act 2007 comes as the bank’s autonomy is being disputed over its naira redesign policy.
As the Supreme Court recently made an order to suspend the ban on the old N1000, N500 and N200 notes, many have questioned the right of the court and the independence of the CBN.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, also recently said that regardless of any supposed autonomy of the CBN, the apex bank was still bound by law.
He said, “Many have argued on the independence of CBN – the autonomy of CBN. That does not make CBN above the law. The constitution gives the House the power to issue an arrest warrant against anyone; we can summon anybody and that was exactly what the House was going to do until the CBN governor came. So, we are watching, and we are monitoring very closely.”
However, the IMF stressed the need to maintain the autonomy of the central bank to make price stability the main objective of the bank.
It also urged the CBN to resume the publication of its annual financial statements, as well as abide by international standards.
The report read partly, “To strengthen the central bank’s autonomy and governance and to establish price stability as its primary objective, the 2007 CBN Act needs to be modernised.
“The CBN’s financial reporting practices should be bolstered through full adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards and resumption of publication of annual financial statements. More broadly, the CBN should take steps to implement the recommendations from the assessment (the 2021 Safeguards assessment) as progress has been limited thus far.”
The IMF further stressed the need to strengthen the central bank’s autonomy by reducing the presence of government officials on the apex board and committees, alongside safeguarding the independence and tenure of central bank officials.
“A safeguards assessment of the CBN was completed in April 2021 but progress on implementation of recommendations has been limited. The CBN’s internal and external audit mechanisms broadly adhere to international standards.
“However, the CBN Act needs to be modernised to enshrine price stability as the primary objective, strengthen the central bank’s autonomy including by reducing the presence of government officials at the board and the CBN’s committees, and by safeguarding the independence and tenure of central bank officials. Legal amendments should also provide for independent oversight over the CBN, including establishing a majority non-executive board and an audit committee that is independent of executive management.
“Financial autonomy should be safeguarded through clear statutory limits on credit to government and prohibition of quasi-fiscal operations and developmental lending activities, which need to be phased out. Financial reporting practices need to be bolstered through the full adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards and resumed publication of annual financial statements. Thus far, limited traction has been seen on implementation of the recommendation and staff continues to engage with the authorities on these issues,” the report noted.
The IMF also urged the CBN to phase out some quasi-fiscal activities, which have expanded rapidly since the pandemic.
It noted that while some of these activities fill a missing market, for example, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme that extends credit to farmers, there were efficiency concerns.
It also warned that an excessive expansion of quasi-fiscal activities would worsen financial repression, weaken the credibility of the CBN’s price stability mandate, and intensify the tendency for fiscal deficit monetisation.
Reps Summon 63 Agencies For Spending Money Illegally
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has summoned 63 institutions of the Federal Government for implementing budgets not presented by the President and passed by the National Assembly, leading to illegal spending totalling over N2 trillion.
Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, also had written a letter to the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, to demand evidence of appropriation by the National Assembly.
The President is expected to transmit budgetary proposals of MDAs to the National Assembly, while the clerk transmits passed budgets to the Presidency for implementation.
However, Buhari, while laying the 2023 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly on October 7, 2022, slammed committees of the parliament who were bypassing him and approving budgets for Government-Owned Enterprises without his approval.
The President had said, “Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members, you may recall that we earlier integrated the budget of Government-Owned Enterprises into the FGN’s 2019 budget submission. This has helped to enhance the comprehensiveness and transparency of the FGN budget. It has, however, come to my attention that Government-Owned Enterprises liaise directly with relevant NASS committees to have their budget passed and issued to them directly.
“I would like to implore the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure that the budget I lay here today, which includes those of the GOEs, be returned to the Presidency when passed. The current practice where some committees of the National Assembly purport to pass budgets for GOEs, which are at variance with the budgets sanctioned by me, and communicate such directly to the MDAs, is against the rules and needs to stop.”
The committee, in the letter dated November 8, 2022, with Reference Number: HR/PAC/SCO5/9NASS/QUE.60/97, which was received at the Budget Office of the Federation on November 10, 2022, noted that the query was based on the alarm raised by the President.
The letter was titled, ‘Re-Request for Information/Documents with Respect to Allegations of Illegal Approvals of Budgets and Extra-Constitutional Expenditure by Some Government Owned Enterprises and Non-Treasury Funded Agencies.’
It partly read, “In pursuance of the power conferred on the National Assembly (Assembly) by Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as altered) (Constitution), Standing Rules of the House of Representatives, and based on Section 2 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017, the Public Accounts Committee is conducting investigation into the allegation made by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR (Mr. President), during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly.
“Mr. President alleged that some Government Owned Enterprises have been submitting their budget and getting it passed through some committees of the National Assembly outside of the process prescribed in Section 81(1) of the Constitution.
“In view of the above and in line with Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution, I hereby request that the Budget Office of the Federation furnish the committee with the approved Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) budget of the following parastatals for the period 2015-2022.
“Please kindly submit a soft copy and 15 hard copies of the above documents/information to Suite 4.23 House of Representatives Building, National Assembly, on or before the close of work on Friday 16th November, 2022.”
Giving more details on the matter, Oke said, “Over N2tn was spent illegally. Mr President has never presented or assented to these budgets. They are to tell Nigerians why they are operating illegal budgets; budgets that have not gone through the due process of law-making. Mr President never presented them to the parliament. Neither the Speaker nor the Senate president sighted or read them on the floor. All the agencies fingered have all been invited.”