Written By Akeem Adebayo (Published in the Nigerian Guardian 26th August 2009)
SIR: There was no crisis in the Nigerian banking industry before Friday, August 14, 2009, as none of the banks had failed to meet its obligations to its depositors. This crisis was imposed on it.
What we are witnessing is a campaign of propaganda by the Central Bank with the intention to forcefully change the ownership structure of Nigerian banks.
Please note the following points:
Why hurry to wield the axe, when the audit has not been conducted in all Nigerian banks to enable Sanusi gain a comprehensive picture of the situation in the industry? The weakest bank in Nigeria, Unity Bank, has not even been audited. Soludo’s CBN granted N70 billion to Unity last year without sacking its CEO or management.
The debtors’ list has proved to be sheer propaganda as the loans are mostly actually performing.
Why did Sanusi not publish debts owed by government ministries, agencies and parastatals? They are actually the biggest and most notorious debtors – either directly or through contractors who handle public project. For example, Transcorp is owing Union Bank N41 billion, but the government is yet to refund the purchase price of NITEL to the company after the Federal Government reversed the privatisation of the telecom company this year. Another important group of bank debtors are the importers of petroleum products. They say the government is owing them nearly N100 billion in subsidy reimbursement. So, this means that if the government that wants to rescue the banks fulfills its responsibility to those it is owing, the problems of the banks will be much lighter.
Why did Sanusi not invite the boards of the audited banks to show them the results of the so-called audit and them how they think they could solve the identified problems; for example, giving them a deadline to recapitalise? The practice all over the world is to fist demand that the existing shareholders meet the capital adequacy requirement. It is only where they are not able to raise the required capital that forced intervention by the regulators takes place.
Imagine that Sanusi is already saying he would like to sell the banks! After only one week of taking them over? That would be a world record in Central Bank intervention.
I advise Nigerians to learn a thing or two about Mr. Lamido Sanusi by reading the articles he wrote in the recent past. Please check. Then you will know where this man is coming from.
The CBN’s powers of intervention are to enable the government protect depositors and creditors of banks. The laws are not meant to enable the government do what it is presently doing: confiscating the legitimate properties of citizens. The schemers at play want to confiscate these banks from their rightful owners and award them to members of their ethnic group, the Fulani. Curiously, the EFCC is now going after the banks’ chiefs. This is a strategy to intimidate them into submission. What has the EFCC got to do with bank loans? Loan default is not a criminal offence in any legal system. This is all propaganda.