23 September 2012

Nigeria: NDIC's Bridge Banking - Here We Go Again!


Abuja — Nigerians may quickly recall the global panic created by Wikkileaks website's revelations of monumental fraud by exposing bureaucracy of government official secrets and the hunting of its founder, Julian Assange as the biggest whistleblower of our time.

When it comes to defending facts against fiction and refusing to be taken in by premeditated official "secrets", you may be tempted to say that Nigerians are beginners to rubble roasters.

Remember the so-called renaissance group of professionals two years ago who sponsored series of media campaigns of calumny against the banking reforms agenda of the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi-led Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Despite their media blitz, however, we saw how some prominent Nigerians stepped forward in defence of rational thinking, equity and fairness to counter the so called "professional" opportunists' sophistry.

Just recently, newspaper columnists and public affairs commentators have been on the jaws of the House of Representative's Ad-hoc Committee's report on the Near Collapse of the Capital Market, restating the need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Writing a two-part series: Barking Up the Wrong Tree (1 & 2) on July 23 and 30, 2012 in her column: Behind the Figures, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Editor of Thisday daily newspaper examined the El-Sudi's conclusion as to what actually caused the near collapse of the Nigeria's capital market, particularly the area where the Committee blamed the regulatory institutions for what it called: "injection of unearned cash into the economy by the CBN"; AMCON's bonds based on "dubious valuations of NPLs" and the roles of NDIC, CBN, AMCON, CAC".

Nwogwugwu tried to educate Nigerians on the real causes of the near collapse of the Capital Market by tracing its genesis to 2008 when the Nigerian financial market was reeling in crisis. Regulatory rupture, resulting in lax regulation; the unprecedented creation of risk assets on banks' balance sheets; manipulation of stock prices by stockbrokers and subsidiaries of banks, which at the time accounted for 65 percent of market capitalisation; mismanagement of some of the banks and insider lending, all combined to create an asset bubble in stock market.

These, and to a lesser extent, the global financial meltdown, was what led to the stock market's collapse."

Following up closely is an article titled: Power is nothing without control in his weekly column: View Point of Tuesday July 31, 2012, a renowned Vanguard newspaper columnist, Mr Pini Jason faulted the El-Sudi Committee's report on many grounds.

He stated that the way it was hastily packaged was apparent from its "inelegant language, grammar and syntax". Mr. Jason also queried the sincerity of the report, citing examples such as how the report described the nationalisation of the defunct Afribank, Bank PHB and Spring bank as "contrived in misrepresentations of monumental proportions" and "built on forgeries, with appearances of fraud and corruption"

Such bitterness, according to Jason, is however uncalled for coming from honourable lawmakers for it is capable of putting a question mark on the sincerity of the committee members in the discharge of their national assignment.

Writing in Daily Trust on August 8, 2012 under the headline: Understanding bridge banking as innovation in failure resolution, Maryam Dasuki described a bridge bank as a temporary bank established to acquire the assets and assume the liabilities of a failed bank until a final resolution is accomplished, pointing out that the concept originated from the United States of America (USA) through the establishment of the first bridge bank in 1987 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

It subsequently became popular amongst deposit insurance systems, according to her, because of the numerous advantages associated with its implementation in resolving failure of distressed banks.

She drew instances from countries such as Japan, Korea and Colombia, among others which had at one time or the other adopted the bridge bank mechanism in resolving the failure of banks and their experiences had been very rewarding.

Dasuki brought to the fore five advantages of bridge banking, which possibly guided NDIC's choice of this option:

i) It affords timely intervention in the preservation of the functions of a failing bank;

ii) It gives depositors and creditors of financial institutions more confidence by ensuring continuity of banking business;

iii) Its establishment can provide the insurer with more time to find the right investors for the failing bank; and

iv) It preserves jobs in the affected banks.

On his part, Adeola Adekunle, writing in Leadership newspaper of August 6, 2012 paid attention to addressing some of the concerns raised by the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) and why CBN/NDIC had to intervene in nationalising the three banks in August 2011 before the deadline expired. Addressing the ISAN's concern, which was expressed by its national coordinator, Sunny Nwosu in an article by Obinna Chima in Thisday edition of August 10, 2011, Adekunle rhetorically asked: "whose interest is the Shareholders Association serving?"

Adekunle also pointed out that the reason for the NDIC's intervention before the expiration of the deadline was timely and necessary: "The truth is that the NDIC/CBN could not afford to wait for the September 30, 2011 deadline because there was a continuous deterioration in the financial condition of the banks. The shareholders funds were negative and they were living on the life support system of the CBN.

Most importantly, they were not able to attract new credible investors that would enable them meet the September 30, 2011 deadline set by the CBN. The regulatory authorities would not fold their arms and watch helplessly while depositors' funds were being dissipated."

It goes without saying, therefore, that whoever cares to see the reasons averred by the above mentioned commentators will not be left in any atom of doubt about the sincerity of the CBN/NDIC in their decisions to establish the three nationalized banks.

Anybody who cares about the safety of depositors' funds will also appreciate the decisions by the CBN/NDIC were actually in their efforts to create and maintain public confidence and encourage accountability and market discipline in order to enhance stability in the nation's banking system.

Ibrahim Hassan wrote from Abuja

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