The compass of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) recently released “Approved Persons Regime Circular” is broad.
Beyond the traditional restrictions stipulated by the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991 (as amended) on persons who may not be members of banks and other financial institutions’ boards of directors and management, this circular introduces a slew of new requirements.
We’d always known that persons who are “non compos mentis” may not be appointed unto banks’ boards. But a person who has “been the subject of any proceedings of a disciplinary or criminal nature, or has been notified of any impending proceedings or any investigation, which might lead to such proceedings”? This sounds unduly harsh. Just supposing the charge were frivolous, and this unfortunate was eventually acquitted? Or as in the case of FIFA, such charges are not sustained upon the resignation of the affected person?
Add to this the apex bank’s decision to include under its “approved persons” rubric, shareholders with more than 5% holdings in a bank and or financial institution, and you wonder if the remit of this initiative is not too wide as to burden the CBN’s ability to enforce compliance. Imagine the CBN on a two-yearly basis conducting “fitness and propriety tests” on the top management and critical operational office holders of the 24 banks in the country.
Laws and rules we have aplenty in the country. Enforcing them is the reason why we haven’t left base station 51 years after the light turned green.