Extend Amnesty to Looters – Chief Ted Inegbenion To FG
With so many cases of Stolen Funds Recovery Pending and overstretched in Court, the need to address the overbearing delays through extended Pardons have been identified as a way out.
A former MD and chief executive officer Comet Merchant Bank, chief Ted Inegbenion believes that the federal Government granting amnesty to suspected looters will help fast track the process of funds recovery.
Chief Ted Inegbedion in an exclusive interview with NAIJA CENTER, (NCN), stated this while bearing his mind on the current efforts exhibited at recovering stolen funds and the state of the nation’s economy.
The retired banker said amnesty for suspected looters of the nation’s funds would yield better results when adopted, given that the current strategy is too cumbersome and a waste of scarce resources due to endless court processes.
Inegbedion harped on the need to infuse professionals into critical sectors of the economy while also encouraging Nigerians in the diaspora to come, invest and contribute their quotas to national development.
He said, ”Many of those who allegedly looted the country’s treasury have more than enough resources to fight on during litigation process which brings unnecessary delays.
“When amnesty is granted they will be willing to return a part of such stolen funds back to the country rather than stashing it abroad. This will, in turn, boost the economy”.
Chief Inegbedion stressed on the need for the federal government to declare a state of emergency on the nation’s economy in the face of dwindling oil revenue due to COVID-19 as the pandemic provides the country with an opportunity of economic recovery and growth by looking inward.
He added that, since we couldn’t harness the benefits of the civil war and oil boom in the past, it’s imperative to declare a state of emergency to stimulate growth as the global crude oil prices, which is the country’s main sources of revenue continues to fall.
According to him, ”As a nation, we lost the benefits of the civil war. We also lost the benefit of the oil boom. We must not lose the benefits provided by COVID-19.
“The same way that the necessity caused our brothers and sisters in the eastern part of the country to invent, to create things that we never they could, that same mentality can make us get the benefits of COVID-
“Covid-19 has exposed us that unless and until we go to the roots and begin to harness the ingenuity of our people we are not going anywhere.
“Unless we begin to believe in ourselves as a people rather than depending on the white man we are not going anywhere. For me, I think that we should, as people begin to do something different from the way we are doing it before.
Allocation is not possible now at least it wont be enough even though it’s there, So grass root development is what we need and we must pursue it without politics, without ethnicity, without religion, we must pursue it because the survival of our nation depends on it”.
The retired chartered accountant who decried the poor impacts of community banks now known as microfinance banks said, they have not served the purpose for which they were created; advocating a new structure of financing, to increase funding of the banks that will enhance their capacities in supporting small, micro and medium enterprises.
”I believe they don’t know their purpose very well. The environment has not been very ripe. They couldn’t compete with the big banks to raise deposits so when they raise deposits, their own interests rate is higher and so couldn’t survive”.
“Particularly at this time of COVID-19, we need to think differently how we deal with community banks [microfinance bank] to bring them to the service of the people which would stimulate the economy from the base”.
“So I want to suggest to the federal government of Nigeria particularly the central bank, from the NDIC records they should be able to know the banks that are viable maybe 500 or whatever figure they can come up with”.
“They should give interest-free loans to those banks depending on the size of the bank because some of them are now national banks, some are state banks and some are just a one branch bank.
“The minimum should be two hundred and fifty million naira
[N250m] to each of the banks interest-free. They should have one-year moratorium during which they don’t have to make any payment and four years during which they have to”.
“CBN must carry out a sensitization or enlightenment campaign to the people to know that they can go to a community bank in their own locality and get a loan with single-digit interest rate”.
“Remember CBN is not charging interest, so the microfinance bank will be told not to charge more than 7%”.
“That’s enough for them if people know they are going to get a loan for 7% in any particular bank they will rush in there, that’s the first step”.
“Moving forward, the banks must open accounts for the new customers so overnight the customer base of the bank will increase and shoot up”.
“They ill be taught real banking principles, not just to open an account alone, so within six months deposits will be flowing and you can now begin to take loans, and this goes for 7% or at whatever rate but not above 10% to enable these people to operate and make money”, he maintained
Chief Inegbedion disclosed to NAIJA CENTER that, with the new structure of financing microfinance banks, the benefits to the economy and countless
”The benefits are plenty, look at this, all of a sudden the microfinance bank is no more begging for deposits competing with the big banks, even the big banks will come down on their own rates seeing that the smaller banks can lend at lower rates as against their own rates.
“So what the CBN has done by reducing the treasury bills rate will be supported by the reduced at the lower level and the middle where the big banks are, they will be forced to key in. Interest will come to one digit rate”.
“Some may say or argue that there will be inflation yes let there be inflation. You cannot fight the two of them at the same time”.
“One must be held constant first while you deal with the other one and when people start working and there is economic activity multiplier effects start to take place the benefits will start to flow”.
People that borrow money will now be able to do business, they will employ one or two more hands, take the crime off the street, those who will go and pay rent so that landlord can eat, they enter transport so the multiplier effects will just be there.
For the CBN itself, they will find that by the second year these guys would have been able to pall the loans because it’s not granted. All the government will loose is just the interest and maybe struggle with inflation, but beyond that, they have lost nothing”
Chief Inegbedion maintained that there is an urgent need to encourage private investment in mass transportation to develop the sector and make it more competitive and comparable with what is obtainable in other climes of the world
”The railways or mass transportation generally, is business for the individual or for the private person, if you go to, UK there are about five companies running the railway system.
“They are all private, if we want to work well and do the proper mass transportation we must open the space, we should not be afraid to charge economic rate, that’s where the problem comes from, that’s why people are not coming here, open the space, if we have the money we don’t have to go abroad to borrow from anybody”.
“Once you have your money you can always buy the expertise”.
“So private people will drive railways if we are driving this old locomotive, we are refurbishing them and so on and so forth we will not go anywhere, I spoke to a friend of mine who works with the British railways, a Nigerian, I said what if we build aline from Lagos to Kano and he said its possible but will the government allow it”
”look at what happened now to gsm, the first sim card I bought for N30,000 now its N150 or something like that. It can only come down and you get better for it .i can only imagine how people are engaged on the stream of gsm. it will go up but will come down”.
“So it is with petroleum as well, let there be refineries and let them charge what they want, it can only go down but we don’t have the nerves ”
The former Managing Director urged on the need to infuse core professionals into critical sectors of the economy such as finance, ICT development,
Education, Health Services and Transportation while also stating that it’s expedient to encourage Nigerians in the diaspora to come home, invest and contribute their quotas to national development
The retired chattered account was, however, of the view that state Governors should be allowed to produce power and distribute same in their States as the current energy structure is too monopolistic as he further claimed, it cannot sustain industrial growth.