The House of Representatives on Tuesday summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, over the apex bank’s decision to bar deposit banks from accepting cash dollar deposits.
The House resolution simply directed Emefiele to appear before the House to “explain the confusing policy.”
It was a day the House passed a separate motion seeking to investigate and “ascertain the state of Nigeria’s economy.”
A member from Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Emmanuel Ekon, who drew the attention of the House to the foreign exchange policy under matters of urgent public importance, said different actors in the finance sector were giving interpretations to the policy as it suited them.
Ekon cited a situation in which he claimed that banks were rejecting deposits for transfers for medical purposes.
“It is a very serious issue; you cannot even transfer money for medical services abroad,” he added.
Another lawmaker from Anambra State, Mr. Chris Azubogu, complained that his brothers in Nnewi, who engaged in import business, had been bombarding him with telephone calls since the policy was announced by the CBN.
According to him, the banks too did not seem to understand what the directive implies as they “resort to measures that are entirely unnecessary.”
Azubogu also alleged that some firms could be forced to lay off workers if delays in moving funds meant that they could not finalise their import transactions.
On his part, the Deputy Whip of the House, Mr. Pally Iriase, told the House that he did not see how the policy would shore up the value of the naira.
“The policy is so confusing to virtually everybody.
“How does it impact on the foreign exchange rate?” Iriase asked.
A move by some members to stop the motion on the grounds that it was not important was halted by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.
The Speaker, like some of his colleagues, also admitted that he was confused about the policy.
“Myself, I must say that honestly I am confused too. Let the CBN governor come and explain what this is about,” he ruled on an order seeking to stop the motion.
But Abubakar Blata argued that anybody describing the policy as confusing was not telling the truth.
Blata recalled that the CBN merely invoked the powers conferred on it pursuant to its Act by introducing a policy that could possibly shore up the value of the naira against the US dollar.
“There is no confusion in this policy.
“The CBN is looking for ways to rescue the naira from total collapse,” he said.
The House Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, advised members to support the motion and allow Emefiele to come and give explanations.
“There is no problem in allowing him to come and make the explanations.
“The explanations may lay the confusion to rest. Recall that when the CBN came up with the cashless policy, similar reservations were expressed.
“But after the former CBN governor (Lamido Sanusi) came here to speak on it, a lot of nerves became calmed,” Ado-Doguwa added.
The sponsor of the motion on the state of the economy, Mr. Bede Eke, stated that the investigation had become necessary on the heels of conflicting statements by government officials on the true state of the economy.
He cited a case in which President Muhammadu Buhari told the nation that he inherited a near-empty treasury, but went ahead to approve N804.7bn as bailout fund for states and local governments.
The Federal Ministry of Finance, the CBN and the National Planning Commission and other agencies of the Federal Government are to appear before the House in the course of the investigations.