The National Economic Council (NEC) has denied the federal government printed money to boost allocations to states in March, brushing aside explanations by the central bank governor that the bank was within its rights to do so.
The government had earlier denied a claim by the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, that it printed between N50 billion and N60 billion for the states, fuelling concerns over the government’s management of the economy at a time of rising inflation.
Mr Obaseki, a former investment banker and former finance commissioner in Edo, described the move as “monetary rascality” and urged the government to “stop playing the ostrich”.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the government did not print money and “distribute on the streets”, but was “lending” the government.
“If you understand the concept of printing of money. The concept printing of money, it’s about lending money,” he said.
“That’s our job – to print. It’s about lending money and so there’s no need putting the controversy about printing of money as if we are going into the factory printing the naira and start distributing on the streets.
“For us to see some people playing some games, overheating his polity talking about printing of money, I think it is unfortunate and totally inappropriate. I would like to advise that this should stop. We should all work for the growth of our country and not play politics.
“It is very inappropriate for people to just give some colouration to the word ‘printing of money’ as if it is a foreign word coming from the sky.”
But in its statement Thursday, the NEC, a council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with state governors as members, insisted the government did not print money.
“Having received presentations from the Minister of Finance, the Central Bank Governor, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), the National Economic Council (NEC) has affirmed that there was no printing of N60 billion or any other amount whatsoever to shore up allocation for the month of March as wrongly insinuated recently in the press,” a statement by Laolu Akande, a spokesperson for the vice president said.
“The Council expressed satisfaction with clarifications made by the NGF represented by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Finance Minister, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed and the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on the alleged printing of N60 billion by the Federal Government.
“Both the Minister and the CBN Governor stated to the Council that the allegation of the printing of money to augment allocation was outrightly false. The NGF also supported the conclusion and NEC affirmed same as the highest constitutional body tasked with economic affairs in the country.”
On security concerns in parts of the country, the council unanimously affirmed the unity of Nigeria and said it would adopt the report of the national town hall meeting on national unity and security held recently in Kaduna.
The council, while welcoming the outcome of the town hall meeting, urged all states to hold wider consultations across the country and report back to NEC the outcome of the meetings.
After this, a national consensus would be reached on the recommendations which included the adoption of state police among other matters.