…As Aid agencies call for urgent ceasefire in besieged Syrian enclave***
Moves by the Senate to separate the Chairman of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, board from the governor of the apex bank, yesterday, got a boost as a Bill for an Act to amend the CBN Act CAP C4 LFN 2004 and for related matters, 2018 (SB. 448) scaled second reading.
According to the Senate, with the bill, the approval of the CBN budget by National Assembly will then be made compulsory, just as it will also ensure that salaries of CBN staff will be fixed by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.
If the Bill scales third reading and is signed into law by the President, the CBN governor will henceforth present to the National Assembly the state of economy and what monetary policy measures were being pursued by the bank. These are contained in a Bill for an Act to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act CAP C4 LFN 2004 and for related matters, 2018 (SB. 448) by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East).
In his lead debate, Senator Anyanwu said: “The Bill, among other things, seeks to amend the CBN Act to provide for greater efficiency, transparency, independence and accountability in the monetary policy environment.”
“For long now, there have been calls by financial experts and stakeholders for the legislative framework of the Central Bank to be reviewed to ensure greater accountability and supervision of the CBN and its board in line with the current global trend. The CBN has been seen as utterly autonomous and alien in its monetary policy decision making with no recourse to any other government body.
“This is then aggravated by the CBN Act which clothes the CBN board chaired by the Governor with arbitrary powers.
The Act allows the board to create, review and approve the CBN budget, set its own salaries including that of the staff and no other body has supervisory powers over the CBN or oversight functions over its monetary policy decisions.
Meanwhile, aid agencies, including the Red Cross and World Food Programme, are calling for an urgent ceasefire to allow them to reach the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta, as rockets and barrel bombs dropped by pro-regime forces killed dozens more people on the fourth day of an intense assault.
The calls were echoed by the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, who demanded an immediate suspension of “all war activities” in the rebel-held Damascus suburb, which he described as a “hell on earth”.
The UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, also called for an immediate halt to hostilities, warning that “civilians were being slaughtered in droves”.
Terrified residents in the area, where 400,000 people are trapped on the outskirts of Damascus, were sheltering in caves, dugouts and basements, as a hail of explosives hit homes, roads and hospitals amid what aid officials warned was an unfolding “humanitarian catastrophe”.
In its statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross said medical personnel in eastern Ghouta were unable to cope with the high number of wounded, adding that “wounded victims are dying only because they cannot be treated in time”.
The call for a pause in the fighting to allow food and medical aid to reach eastern Ghouta came as some international agencies, who work with local partners in the densely populated agricultural area on the outskirts of Damascus, announced they were suspending their programmes because of the risk.
The halting of aid efforts in an area that has seen one small convoy of aid enter since November comes as acute malnutrition levels among children in the enclave have quadrupled in less than a year to the highest levels seen in Syria’s seven-year war.
“Just a cup of water or a piece of bread may cost a man his life because he is under attack from missiles,” said Dr Fayez Orabi, one of the doctors in eastern Ghouta. “They cannot get out of their shelters.”
The attacks have killed over 250 civilians, including at least two dozen on Wednesday morning, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. More than 1,200 others have been injured, a toll people on the ground say has been exacerbated by attacks on hospitals, clinics and ambulances.
There has been widespread condemnation from the United Nations and politicians around the world, but without any action to halt or lessen the bombardment. “It is a miserable situation, the whole world just watching us,” said Orabi.
Vanguard with additional report from Guardian UK