Why we resigned from NESG board – Bank CEOs

Kayode Ogundele
Kayode Ogundele

The chief executive officers of First Bank, Sterling Bank and United Bank for Africa (UBA) have denied claims that they were threatened to resign from the board of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).

THISDAY reports that two CEOs, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they resigned from the board over a failure of corporate governance as the think tank issued a major statement without consulting its entire board.

The CEOs, Kennedy Uzoka of the United Bank for Africa (UBA); Abubakar Suleiman of Sterling Bank and Adesola Adeduntan of First Bank Plc, resigned on Thursday in protest of the NESG’s criticisms of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s interventions.

The newspaper quotes the CEOs as saying they consult with the CBN weekly on policies that concern the banking sector and the economy in general in addition to their institutions being participating financial institution (PFIs) in most of the central bank development finance interventions.

“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 policymakers. How would the NESG issue such a statement without the input of board members?” the bank CEO asked.

The NESG was reportedly told that the concerns expressed about some provisions in the amendment of the banks and other financial institutions act (BOFIA) were misplaced as such provisions existed in other laws like the NDIC 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,” said one of the CEOs.

“In issuing that statement without consultations with the board, the NESG left my continuing participation untenable resulting in my resignation.”

In a statement on Monday, the NESG had expressed concerns about how the CBN “carried on the business of foreign exchange transactions, loan disbursements (intervention funds) and price fixings without appropriate policy clarity”.

The NESG had also urged the federal government to overhaul the management and support being given to the agricultural sector saying a huge gap exists between food production and requirement of Nigerians despite the huge sums disbursed by the CBN under its intervention programmes.

In response, the CBN had said its agricultural intervention programmes averted a major food crisis during the thick of the lockdown.

The apex bank also refuted claims that its lending process did not have a proper framework explaining that participating financial institutions carry out due diligence of applicants following which an additional assessment process is embarked upon by the CBN before disbursements are provided.

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