• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Increase in minimum capital requirements for Nigerian banks – Part 1

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Besides, labour unions may insist on the dollar as the index for negotiating the minimum wage across our nation. In any case, university lecturers have consistently argued that their salaries have fallen well below the dollar remuneration of their colleagues in the global intellectual market.

There is indeed a compelling argument for a post-mortem (forensic analysis) of the last recapitalization of banks in 2005. This would vigorously address all the thorny issues raised by Lawson A. Omokhodion in his book.

As for the recently announced minimum capital requirements by the Governor of the Central Bank, we should take a cue from 95-year-old Dr. Michael Omolayole (ex-St. Gregory’s College, Lagos, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford University). For several years, he taught science at St. Gregory’s College. The lesson and theory he delivered with tremendous gusto were propounded by Sir Isaac Newton. Sir Isaac’s third law of motion states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

Read also: Debunking Economic Myths: New minimum wage doesn’t always translate to poverty reduction

Mr. Yemi Cardoso, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who was a student at St. Gregory’s College (from 1969 to 1973), will do well to take the lesson to heart. Beware; the banks may well choose to fight rather than simply comply and be rolled over. It would be interesting to see whether any bank would be bold enough to insist that the critical matter of minimum capital (recapitalization) should be driven by economic and financial realities, especially ROI (return on investment), rather than regulatory diktat.

What is beyond contention is that we are operating in a very toxic environment, and the temptation to “game the system” or “shaft regulatory controls” is a very powerful steroid.

The shenanigans that went on during the last capitalization in 2005 are truly mind-boggling.

The Governor of the Central Bank has been consistent all along by repeatedly drumming into the ears of those who care to listen that what he is seeking is fresh capital—preferably FDI (foreign direct investment)—and domestic saintly or wealthy first-timers whose funds are not contaminated by “dirty”money”—drugs, round-tripping, proceeds of kidnapping, money laundering, etc.

Regardless, he has to balance microeconomics with macroeconomics. Even beyond that, he has to be mindful that the “independence” of the Governor of the Central Bank is not in the realm of absolutism.

It is not uncommon in the global arena to ponder who should be the main driver of the economy: the Governor of the Central Bank (monetary policy) or the Minister of Finance (fiscal policy).

Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, stunned the National Assembly when she revealed that she had no prior knowledge of the change in the Nigerian currency (naira), which the then Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had launched with disastrous consequences.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is a miracle that the repercussions of the mismanagement of the currency were confined to relatively peaceful protest and despair nationwide without crossing the boundary into violent demand for regime change.

The reputation of the Central Bank was at rock bottom. It may sound like fiction, but “DSS” (Department of State Security) actually filed criminal charges against the Governor of the Central Bank for illegal possession of a gun and financing terrorists!!

Indeed, we were all aghast when the Governor of the Central Bank was alleged to have purchased an application form for 100 million naira to run as a presidential candidate in the 2023 election. Billboards with his photograph were all over the place. We were also treated to fleets of brand-name campaign vehicles.

Read also: Here are the Nigerian banks with highest investment securities holdings

“A Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) employee has disclosed how he collected $3 million in cash for Emefiele.

The witness, Mr. Monday Osazuwa, told an Ikeja Special Offences Court on Friday how the former apex bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, on different occasions, directed him to collect three million dollars in cash in tranches.

Osasuwa, while being led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), said he was a dispatch rider at Zenith Bank in 2001 before he joined the CBN in 2014.

Osasuwa said he joined Apex Bank as a senior supervisor in 2014.

He said Emefiele was the Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc while he was working as a dispatch rider in the bank.

The witness said he knew Emefiele, who was his boss, while at Zenith Bank and that he later joined him at the CBN.

The witness said he was later appointed as a senior supervisor (full time) in recording and filing of documents while working in the CBN governor’s office in Lagos.

“I was still working in the CBN governor’s office while I was appointed as a full staff member, and we usually communicated through Whatsapp and email.

I function as a senior supervisor, recording and filing with other official roles.