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Support grows for relocation of CBN departments to Lagos

 

Finance and economy analysts have shared perspectives on the relocation of some units and departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria to Lagos.

The stakeholders spoke to PUNCH Online on Wednesday following the recent apex bank’s announcement directing the movement of some of its units and departments to Lagos for enhanced operational efficiency.

The CBN’s decision to relocate certain departments from its Abuja headquarters to Lagos has given rise to intense debates and controversies in recent weeks.

While some are viewing it as a wise choice due to Lagos’ superior infrastructure capacity, others, primarily from the Northern political class, expressed concerns about potential disparities between the North and South.

In an interview with our correspondent, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Limited, Garba Kurfi, described the apex bank’s decision as the best for the national economy development and blessing to Lagos given the CBN’s existing but decaying infrastructure in the city.

Kurfi, an economy and investment expert, emphasised the potential positive impact if the CBN operates efficiently, stating, “If the CBN works efficiently, it is better for the economy because they are the monetary policy of the economy. Whatever they think will be better for their system and the economy, at the end of the day, should be encouraged to be.”

He pointed out that Lagos State would benefit from increased tax revenues due to the relocation of CBN units and departments, as more people are paid salaries within the state.

Regarding concerns about the CBN’s decision to move units from Abuja to Lagos, Kurfi highlighted the overall benefits, stating, “Since the overall benefits outweigh the costs, let it be. It is not the immediate cost that you look at, but the overall benefits.”

He justified the move, citing the CBN’s need for more operational space and the concentration of banks’ head offices in Lagos.

On the legal aspects of the CBN’s actions, Kurfi emphasised an employer’s right to deploy staff for greater productivity.

He suggested that if an employee disagrees with such decisions, resignation is an option, emphasizing the availability of job opportunities for others.

Speaking in the same vein, Principal Partner at Intel Solicitors, Ademola Salami, said, “The Central Bank of Nigeria functions effectively as a bankers’ bank and holds the flexibility to operate optimally from any region in the country. The deployment of CBN staff to various parts of Nigeria aligns with operational needs and is conducted without external interference.

“While the administrative headquarters of major commercial banks are located in Lagos, it prompts consideration whether it is administratively rational for the CBN to execute transactions or perform functions from its Abuja head office, rather than leveraging existing structures in Lagos.”

Salami added, “The recent agitation from some quarters against the CBN’s actions seems unjustified, lacking support, and devoid of legal merit, particularly given that no staff were retrenched due to the decision. It is essential to recognise that the CBN and its workforce operate as a cohesive unit.

Ultimately, unity should prevail, emphasizing that we are one, indivisible, and a united Nigeria.”

A Lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye Ogun State, Waliu Abimbola, noted that the economic implications of such a strategic move do not require a degree in Economics to ascertain that certain departments and units of the CBN should not even be located in Abuja.

He explained, therefore, that the move is both timely and important for strategic purposes.

He stated, “Besides Lagos being the hub of commerce and industry, this relocation would enable the CBN to effectively monitor the activities of banks, many of which are based in Lagos. One can’t effortlessly oversee the actions of banks and exchange bureaus from Abuja.

“Though I am not a lawyer, it is worth noting that laws are created by the government. If any obstacles obstruct such moves, the Presidency possesses the knowledge and ability to eliminate them.”

A lawyer, Bimpe Adelowo, said there may be additional reasons for the CBN to relocate some of its units and departments to Lagos such as effective monitoring and supervision of commercial banks under its control.

“We must not shy away from the fact that Lagos has most of the bank’s headquarters and it suffices to agree that the presence of the regulator as CBN is very important in Lagos for adequate monitoring, cost-effectiveness and to relieve many burdens on the CBN headquarters,” he said.

Speaking on the workings of the CBN, its functions and its power to establish any units under its mandate, Adelowo added, “The bank is charged with the responsibility of administering the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA), 2020, with the sole aim of ensuring high standards of banking practice and financial stability through its surveillance activities, as well as the promotion of an efficient payment system.

“In addition to its core functions, CBN has over the years performed some major developmental functions, focussed on all the key sectors of the Nigerian economy (financial, agricultural and industrial sectors). Overall, these mandates are carried out by the Bank through its various departments.
With these and other mandates, CBN is constitutionally empowered to determine its operations, where and how it will perform a particular function.”

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