Erstwhile Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, received further bashing yesterday as President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, accused him of deceiving the Senate on the fragile state of Nigerian banks. Declaring open the Senate public hearing on a bill to establish the Assets Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, Senator Mark equally lauded Soludo’s successor, Malam Lamido Sanusi, for his sense of purpose in salvaging the sector.
It will be recalled that earlier this month the banking consolidation exercise carried out by the then governor of the central bank Prof. Charles Soludo came under fire from the current CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who said the exercise was a sham and that many of the banks never raised the capital which they claimed they did.
The current CBN governor said, “A lot of the capital supposedly raised by these so-called ‘mega-banks’ was fake capital financed from depositors’ funds. 30 per cent of the share capital of Intercontinental Bank was purchased with customer deposits. Afribank used depositors’ funds to purchase 80 per cent of its IPO. ”
Mark, at the public hearing which was attended by the cream of the nation’s financial sector including managing directors of banks, charged the Central Bank to recover the N620 billion bailout loan extended to the 10 banks recently rescued by the apex bank.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Nkechi Nwaogu, while welcoming dignitaries to the hearing, noted that an estimated N1 trillion would be required to recapitalize the 10 distressed banks rescued by the CBN.
Mrs. Nwaogu added that, AMCON, when established, would be expected to “acquire toxic assets of deposit money banks, financial development institutions to strengthen their balance sheets and bring about improved liquidity and capital adequacy,” besides reducing the debt overhang of the banks.
Those present at the hearing included Sanusi; Ms. Aruma Oteh, Director- General, Securities and Exchange Commission; Prof. Ndi Okereke-Onyuike, Director-General, Nigerian Stock Exchange; Mrs. Funke Osibodu, Group Managing Director, Union Bank Plc; Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Managing Director-Designate, Zenith Bank and other bank executives.
At the event, Mark said:“We have found ourselves where we are today as a result of one thing; the Central Bank’s inability to supervise the banks properly. I recall that in Soludo’s time, we called the governor of CBN no less than three times to come and brief us when the economic melt-down started, and, on each occasion, we were assured and re-assured that the situation in Nigeria was excellent and that there was no problem at all. Now, we know better.”
Why AMCON is necessary
“So, I think that is the point that we must note straight away. AMCON has become necessary because of the toxic debts that have been incurred by various banks.
“And, I believe very sincerely that if the supervision was all right, we would not have found ourselves running debts up to trillions of naira. I think that point is very important and we must note it.”