The Central Bank of Nigeria, through its Corporate Communications Director; Isaac Okorafor, has faulted and dismissed as false and malicious, a report of an audio phone conversation allegedly involving the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, his Special Adviser; Emmanuel Ukeje and other top management of the apex bank. According to the report which has been published on many popular blogs, the conversation was an attempt to conceal a shady deal of N500 billion, that led to the reappointment of Godwin Emefiele, for a second term as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.
The phone conversation on the audio published, involving the CBN Governor, the CBN Deputy Governor; Edward Adamu, Director of Finance; Dayo Arowesegbe, and Emefiele’s SA; Ukeje, can be heard clearly with the voice and conversation. The statement made available by Isaac Okorafor, dismissed the alleged audio conversation as a piece of doctored conversation involving the officials of CBN on how to resolve the issue they had with balancing their account and has nothing to do with a certain fictitious N500 billion, allegedly missing. The statement however, did not refute teh conversation, it only noted that it was manipulated to serve certain purposes.
The statement by Isaac Okorafor reads, “Contrary to the headline-grabbing narrative that the discussion was about a fraudulent transaction, this conversation – the beginnings of which was omitted to create a different impression – was simply to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the Bank’s balance sheet”. Going forward, he continued, As publicly known, the CBN was approached in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by the Vice President, to assist State Governments with Conditional Budget Support, in the aftermath of the significant nose-dive in global oil prices and associated FAAC allocations.
“In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerian workers got their salaries, pensions and gratuities, and that the economy continued to recover from recession, the Bank provided about N650 billion in loans at 9% with a two-year grace period to 35 States of the Federation. These monies were distributed to the States monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.
“In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft Account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund. The selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolving it. Obviously, it soon became clear that a State Government loan cannot be classified as “bad” or “irrecoverable” when the State still exists and getting FAAC allocations.
“The Bank then reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance and they jointly gave comfort to the auditors who accepted in writing that these monies would be repaid. On this basis, the auditors reversed the negative entry and certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the State of Affairs. Reconciliation of Balance Sheet items are regular conversations amongst Senior Management of many agencies and should not be misconstrued as anything but that. Had the online media which released the selective recordings sought the comments of CBN as required of journalism practice, we would have provided it.
The CBN has also in the statement revealed its readiness to seek redress through the legal framework available, as to ensure that justice is done and that its image is redeemed.
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