Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reps back out of Islamic Banking

The House of Representatives yesterday made a volte face denying supporting the introduction of Islamic banking in the country as proposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Governor of CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was last week summoned to the floor of the House to educate and clear the controversies generated by the plan to introduce Islamic banking in the county.

After about one hour lecture, members clapped for Sanusi, while efforts of some members to ask pertinent questions were rebuffed by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over the plenary.

But at resumption of plenary yesterday, the House who gave Sanusi a thunderous ovation made a U-turn over its purported endorsement of the controversial Islamic banking and cash withdrawal limit policies.
The decision to reverse itself was, however, taken at an executive session that lasted about one hour and presided over by Ihedioha.

It was gathered that members who were shut out of asking questions last week took advantage of the closed door meeting to vent their anger.
A member confirmed that the meeting was stormy as members reportedly spoke extensively against the handling of last Thursday’s meeting with the CBN governor, during which members who had raised their hands to ask questions from the apex bank boss were not allowed to do so.

Briefing the press after the plenary on the issue, the House Chairman on Ad hoc Committee on Media and Publicity along with other members of the committee, Opeyemi Bamidele declared that the House had not endorsed both policies being proposed by the apex bank as alleged.
“We have not taken a position on it. The matter is alive, it’s ongoing, we will further debate on it and take a final decision based on the interest of the people who elected us.

“The House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has not by any means endorsed the Islamic bank. The CBN governor was invited based on a motion on the two issues, Islamic banking and cash withdrawal limit to come and offer more explanations on the issues before we take a final decision. There is no standard rule that questions must be asked whenever anybody or organisation is invited. We either ask questions or ask the person to take a bow and go.”

Mr. Bamidele, a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) from Ekiti State added that the House in its wisdom resolved not to ask questions after the presentation by the CBN boss in the overall interest of the nation as such questions might degenerate to crisis.

“We have acted in the overall interest of Nigeria because Nigeria today does not need further overheating. Asking questions after the presentations that day may lead to another thing. Only God knows what would have happened by now if members had been allowed to ask questions, at least we had more than 100 hands up for questions.

“We were all in the floor of the House today when an honourable member read a letter from the Anambra State governor and the state commissioner of finance clarifying that Anambra State government had not borrowed any money from the Islamic bank.”

“We don’t want to play to the gallery or into the hands of anybody. The matter is alive, we will not allow ourselves to be distracted. As a responsible House we will take appropriate decision on the two issues at the appropriate time.  That is why we have various committees in the House to handle such issues.” 
He, however, agreed that there were some members who were not happy about what happened when the CBN governor came to address the House and allowed to go without subjecting him to questions as it was done during the invitation of the Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Deizani Alison-Madueke who was subjected to several hours questioning.
along with the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Austin Oniwon and the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR by the House, adding that the two issues were different.


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