CBN’s N.5bn donation:•Again, should the apex bank continue giving away money like this?



Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to spend N500million on renovation and infrastructural development of Lisabi Grammar School, Abeokuta, Ogun State, has opened its flank for another round of criticism, Doing good is not inherently bad; but it raises eyebrows when a public institution like the CBN is concerned. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as they call it, is done by many business concerns as a way of giving back to the society part of what they have taken from it.

But what they spend on CSR is usually taken from their profits. This is one reason many Nigerians believe it should not be the duty of the CBN to embark on such projects because it has no tangible product that it sells.
As a matter of fact, that was one of the reasons many Nigerians asked questions when in February last year the apex bank donated N100million to the Kano State Government, for delivery to victims of the Boko Haram-induced violence in the state. The bank explained then that under its statute, it is empowered to make such donations, provided they are approved by its board.

Consequently, there should be no issues on the Kano donation since it was approved by its board; in other words, the bank had fulfilled all righteousness. Not many Nigerians were impressed with this answer, and many people began calling for a tinkering with the autonomy of the bank in a way that would clip its wings for such expenditures.

A raging debate thus ensued, with some former governors of the bank, former finance ministers and other financial experts wading in, in defence of the CBN, to protect it from the undue influence of politicians. Somehow, a middle course was reached with some people suggesting that we should demarcate between the bank’s operational autonomy and its budgeting autonomy.

This seems sensible in that it both protects the apex bank’s autonomy to play its regulatory role in the economy as well as ensure that it submits its budgets to the National Assembly like other government agencies.

However, no further action was taken on the matter ever since. But, the donation to Lisabi Grammar School, as part of the apex bank’s development policy of intervention in schools, has once again brought to the fore the question of how far the apex bank can go in spending money without appropriation, beyond the approval by its board?

No doubt the projects for which the money was donated, which included a 200-seater capacity hall, an ultra modern library, laboratory for Physics, Chemistry and Biology; staff quarters, two boreholes as well as two buses are laudable, but should it be the business of the CBN? Being the alma mater of the bank’s deputy governor (operations), Mr. Tunde Lemo, won’t it raise question of abuse of office? In other words, would such generosity have been the school’s lot if Mr Lemo is not its product?

The fact is, N500million is a lot of money; it will go a long way in putting smiles on the faces of students and staff in some five colleges, at the rate of N100million per school. Yes, when a school clocks 70, like Lisabi Grammar School, it calls for celebration and retrospection. Without doubt, if the donation had come from the old students, no one would have questioned it; irrespective of the amount involved.

Something must be wrong with whatever process that allows the CBN such latitude without appropriation by the National Assembly. Even the government that appoints the CBN governor has oversight done on its budget by the National Assembly. The apex bank is a mere custodian of public wealth; it should not give the impression that it is its owner.




The nation
Share on Google Plus
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment

0 comments:

Post a Comment