Professor Chukwumah Soludo, former Governor of the Central Bank, CBN, was in his elements a few weeks ago, when he declared that the current CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, turned the bank into an ATM machine for the Jonathan administration. The imports of that statement are numerous; but, two would have struck most readers who are no knowledgeable about the role of the central bank in any nation.
*Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo
Given the current frenzy associated with the anti-corruption drive, Soludo must have guessed correctly that the present CBN Governor would be judged as an accomplice, before or after the fact, of whatever is later proved to have been corrupt practices by the previous administrations(s). In addition, the CBN should be held guilty of reckless release of funds in order to please the Jonathan administration from 2010 till May 31, 2015. On both counts, Soludo was deliberately playing to the attentive gallery because he is dead wrong.
And, he knows it. But, unfortunately, Soludo had become a politician since he left office in 2009. He twice ran, unsuccessfully, for governor of his state spending unexplained millions of naira. There will be more on that later. For now the focus of attention is whether the CBN became an ATM machine under Jonathan/Emefiele or has always been.. The facts don’t support Soludo; indeed they expose his deliberate distortion of facts and hypocrisy. Charles Soludo as an 100-Level undergraduate at UNN must have known that the CBN, like all central banks worldwide, is the government’s own ATM machine.
That is a fact irrespective of whether the President is Obama, Putin, Jonathan or Buhari. The central bank is the government’s banker of first and last resort. The bulk of government money is lodged there and to it the government goes 24/7 to request for its money – just like an ATM machine. And, when the government makes a request for its money, following laid down procedures, like any other account holder, the CBN must pay promptly.
Mr Godwin Emefiele answering questions during his screening by the Senate for Central Bank Governorship in Abuja on Wednesday
The CBN like any bank cannot ask a depositor or account holder to explain what is to be done with the withdrawal; it has no veto power over the end uses to which the funds are directed. To pretend otherwise and to try and convince Nigerians that any CBN governor can fail to pay is to tell a bloody lie.
Furthermore, the bank can do little even if the CBN knows that the funds are being embezzled after they have left its vaults. The power of oversight passes immediately to three other institutions – the legislature, the Fourth Estate of the Realm and the judiciary.
The central bank seldom investigates the disbursement of funds – other than when it is related to special programmes for which it is required to provide the funds for other banks to manage e.g agricultural loans granted at less than prevailing interest rates. In all the disclosures so far made about public funds being misappropriated – whether for arms, or from NIMASA or pension etc – there has been no single case made of the CBN releasing funds which had nor received approval by the Okonjo-Iweala and Jonathan. Contrary to the rumour generously provided by the Directorate of State Service, DSS, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, even Sambo Dasuki did not collect a kobo from the CBN which was not authorized by the Minister and the President.
Let us now examine what happened in 2007, when Soludo was Governor of the CBN. A Senate Ad Hoc Committee was established to probe the mismanagement of Petroleum Development Trust Funds, PDTF, by Obasanjo’s administration. (See pages 179 to 198 of my book PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED for details. By the time the Ad Hoc Senate Committee wound up its sitting, the following had been established.
First, instead of paying funds belonging to the PDTF directly, as required by the PDTF Decree 25 of 1973, signed into law