There was a mild drama at the Vanguard Economic Discourse in Lagos on Friday when a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, and the immediate past Governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, made allegations and counter-allegations.
The development, which generated grumblings among the audience, occurred during a discussion session moderated by the founding Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr. Fola Adeola.
Soludo, who delivered the keynote speech on the topic, ‘The hard facts to rescue the Nigerian economy,' had earlier highlighted some of the failures of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, particularly regarding fiscal and monetary policies.
But in his remarks during the panel session, where the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, defended the government, Oshiomhole accused Soludo of wrongly allocating millions of dollars to two new generation banks shortly before the Naira was devalued.
He said, “I got some intelligence from my comrades who worked in the system, and we found out that the CBN under Soludo had just allocated a couple of millions of dollars to two, as they were then known, new generation banks.
“And I asked Prof (Soludo) if you were going to devalue by Friday, why did you auction dollar at a lower rate on Thursday? I accused Soludo; I said you have enriched these two young men to the tune of N8bn, courtesy of your internal abuse.
“When the regulator behaved in this manner, then the Nigerian condition is much more serious than we can appreciate it. We need to deal with issues of attitude.”
However, this did not go down well with Soludo, as he said some people tend to change the subject when they did not have an answer to his earlier comment, a response that caused boisterous laughter and clapping by the audience.
At this point, the moderator told him he was running out of his time, but this was greeted with shouts of “No” from the audience.
“This debate has only begun. Adams made the point about the exchange rate and exchange allocation to two banks. I want to say for the record that Adams Oshiomhole has lied. I didn’t say he misquoted anything; he has lied.” Soludo stated.
He said at the time, banks were bidding for forex two to three times weekly, and only the successful banks at each of the bids were allocated forex, adding that he was not even part of the bid as there was a committee for the purpose.
“Every bid produced a different exchange rate, and there were different winners at every bid. We didn’t do devaluation as the case may be; we had the currency depreciating as the market determined day to day. With all due respect, I think if you (Oshiomole) don’t know what to say, sir, just don’t get into this kind of personal allegation,” he added.
Soludo had earlier said nothing much would be achieved with the 2017-2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which was released by the Federal Government last week.
Other panellists were a former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr. Obadiah Malaffia; Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf; former Group Managing Director, Diamond Bank Plc, Dr. Alex Otti; Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company, Mr. Bismarck Rewane; and a member of the National Executive Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Issa Aremu.
Dignitaries at discourse the included the Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Chief Sam Amuka; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole; former Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; and former Chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola.