Contrary to the view in some quarters that they were forced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to resign from the board of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Chief Executive Officers of three Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country actually quit on their own volition, New Telegraph can confirm.
Three NESG Directors –the Group Managing Director of UBA Plc., Kennedy Uzoka; the Chief Executive Officer, First Bank Nigeria Ltd., Dr. Adesola Adeduntan and Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc., Abubakar Suleiman, abruptly tendered their resignations on Wednesday, a move that was widely believed to have been triggered by the criticisms levelled against the NESG by the apex bank over the Group’s press release titled, “Matters of urgent attention,” which clearly provoked the banking watchdog.
At least two of the bank CEOs last night confirmed to New Telegraph that they resigned from the NESG board because they were not privy to the NESG press release that riled the CBN. Stressing that they were not compelled by the CBN to quit the NESG board, they explained that as CEOs of lenders that are of systemic importance to the financial system, coupled with their membership of the Bankers’ Committee, it is inappropriate of them to be associated with statements critical of the apex bank.
They noted that the Bankers’ Committee provides a forum where issues, such as those raised in the NESG press release, are usually thrashed out. “A Nigerian lender cannot be seen to be criticizing its regulator just as Barclays does not criticize the Bank of England or JP Morgan does not criticize the Federal Reserve,” one of the CEOs said.
Besides, the two CEOs also raised concerns over what they described as corporate governance issues at the NESG. Specifically, they accused a member of the NESG, who is also a newspaper publisher, of leaking sensitive NESG documents to his publication, without the knowledge and approval of the NESG board.
In addition, they cited the comments that the business newspaper claimed that leading Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Konyin Ajayi, made on the NESG allegation that revisions to the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) are intended to confer immunity on the Governor of the CBN. According to the bank MDs, although the legal luminary told the news paper that he was certain that there was no attempt to confer immunity on the Governor of the CBN in the proposed BOFIA, the business publication still went ahead to publish the allegation.
The bank CEOs said that corporate governance at NESG must be reviewed to enable the organisation actualize its vision. It will be recalled that in its response to the NESG’s press release, the CBN in a statement, signed by its Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, expressed concern that despite what it described as the, “cordial and open relations between both organizations,” the NESG chose not to raise the issues directly with it, but instead released a press statement, the contents of which the economic summit group had earlier leaked to one of the business newspapers in the country. It described the NESG’s allegations as, “reflective of sinister motives and malicious intent.”