Managing Directors of three commercial banks who resigned from the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) ‘provided’ further comments explaining the reason for their actions.
The bank managing directors who resigned include Kennedy Uzoka, the MD/CEO of UBA Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, the CEO of Sterling Bank, and First Bank CEO, Mr. Adesola Adeduntan all resigned from the board of the NESG Board on Wednesday.
According to media reports, one of the CEOs explained why they resigned from the Board of the NESG.
“Given that we have such full access, how can we turn around and issue a statement criticising policies that we are part of the consultative process? If we have concerns we have full access and platforms to share them with policy makers. How would the NESG issue such a statement without the input of Board members?”
Another also cited the comments made by Prof. Konyin Ajayi (SAN), who had explained to board members of the NESG that the alleged immunity clause provisions were “misplaced” as it was included in the laws like that of the NDIC Act, CBN Act, and AMCON Act.
“Despite that, they went ahead to issue the statement, which means that they have other motives, beyond their concern for public policy…And publishers who are members of the board of the NESG must not be allowed to abuse their position in getting board issues at the NESG published, without disclosing that they are participants and the co-authors of the NESG statement. In issuing that statement without consultations with the board, the NESG left my continuing participation untenable resulting in my resignation.”
Battle of the optics
As the war of words ensues between the CBN and NESG, it appears both parties of moved towards courting public opinion to justify their actions and reactions. Businessday Published an article on Thursday claiming support from people who have called to show support to their publication amidst a barrage of “attacks” from the CBN.
The resignation of the Bank CEOs is also seen by some critics as a sign of pressure from their regulator to take sides in the ongoing melee. Curiously, none of the Bank CEOs quoted above explaining the reason for their resignation agreed to be mentioned by name. A Businessday article published on Thursday also alleged that the bank CEOs were forced to resign in an article published on Thursday only to take the article down hours later.
While staunch critics of the CBN will more likely continue to support the NESG and Businessday, the CBN is likely to push on with the narratives that the NESG erred in alleging that the immunity clause was promoted to protect the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Bottom line: Stating that the CBN Governor pushed for an immunity clause in the proposed BOFIA Bill appears to be out of sync with reality as evidence suggests this is a clause that already exists in the current CBN Act and other similar regulator organizations. Why this is even a contentious matter between NESG and the CBN is worrying considering the need for larger cooperation as the economy faces its largest downturn ever.