Kingsley Moghalu, a former presidential candidate has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to leave the central bank alone following his directive that the apex bank should stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food.
President Buhari said this on Tuesday in Daura, Katsina State, when he hosted the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Eid-el-Kabir lunch at his country home in Daura.
Buhari said that the foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.
“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,’’ he said.
In his reaction, Moghalu said the CBN is not a ministry to be directed by the president, adding that such impositions by political authority is the reason the country has remained poor.
In a statement on Tuesday, Moghalu wrote:
Is the central bank now a ministry to be “directed” by President Buhari ? Article 1(3) of the CBN Act 2007 states “In order to facilitate the achievement of its mandate under this Act…the Bank shall be an independent body in the discharge of its functions.”
The issue here isn’t whether or not CBN should allow access to forex for food imports. It is about whether such an economic policy of a central bank should be imposed by a political authority. A major reason for our poverty, instability and weak economy is weak institutions.
Our marketplace should be regulated and guided in a rational manner that creates a level playing field. Our economy will not be saved by Ad Hoc political decisions like this, handed down by the very institutions that should be shielded from the whim and caprice of politicians.
Nigeria’s entire economy appears to have been sub-contracted to our central bank, including industrial and trade policy. In the process the economy has fared poorly and the Bank has lost its independence. This is sad!
The President should leave central bank alone to discharge its mandate independently within the ambit of the CBN Act, and stop “directing” it. The central bank should on its part assertive its independence (assuming it actually believes it should be independent, but the Act says so, clearly!