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Why we resigned from NESG, by bank CEOs

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By Collins Nweze

Banks Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) who resigned from the board of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) have given reasons why they quit the think-thank.

Group Managing Director of UBA Plc Kennedy Uzoka; Managing Director of First Bank Adesola Adeduntan and  Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman, on Wednesday left the NESG board following the group’s criticism of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policies.

Two of the bank chiefs who spoke in confidence, said they were not consulted by the NESG leadership before taking the position. They also cited  serious corporate governance breaches in the NESG management that needed to be addressed.

“We were not consulted on the statement, and as directors of the NESG, and also managing directors of banks, we needed to consult with our board and get the nod,” the bank chiefs said.

A bank CEO said should they have concerns about CBN’s policies and handling of the economy, the Bankers’ Committee provides a forum for them  to discuss such issues with the regulator.

He added that criticising regulators is not a global best practice in the financial sector. “Have you seen the Bank of America criticize the Feds, or  Barclays Bank criticizing the Bank of England? Apart from that, there is also the issue of corporate governance in NESG. One of the directors’ in NESG and publisher of a newspaper, leaked an official statement and internal memo from NESG Chairman by publishing it in his newspaper,” he said.

The bank chiefs also called on the NESG to review its corporate governance in line with global best practices.

Speaking on another report alleging that the CBN was seeking immunity for its officials in the new Bank and Other Financial Institutions Bill 2020, the bank chiefs said newspaper published the story, even when they were told that the apex bank and its official had no such plans. They accused the NESG leadership of misleading the public by making unfounded allegations.

The NESG had expressed concerns about certain provisions of the ‘repealed and re-enacted’ Bank and Other Financial Institutions Bill 2020; recently passed by the National Assembly.

CBN defended its policies and punctured all the allegations against it by the NESG.  The apex bank said the false alarm by the NESG raised serious credibility questions on the actions of the group, as its comments, which have been circulated across the globe, significantly harmed the credibility of the Governor and the CBN as an institution.

“The CBN also feels compelled to let Nigerians know that in spite of the cordial and open relations between both organizations, the NESG could have raised its allegations directly with us but never did. On the CBN’s development finance activities, we are comforted by the NESG’s reluctant admission that many Central Banks around the world are also engaging in similar actions. The CBN engaged in development finance in order to address the credit needs of the sectors critical to improving livelihoods, reducing poverty, and promoting inclusive growth,” the apex bank said.

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