In the letter dated June 1, 2009, President Yar’adua expressed gratitude on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria to Soludo for what he described as the former CBN Governor’s “dedicated service and uncommon sense of duty over the past five years.”
“I am confident that your worthy antecedents in the CBN and in prior appointments in the service of our nation remain sources of inspiration to an entire generation. As I wish you even more astounding successes in the years ahead, it is my fervent hope that you will readily avail us of your distinguished service when the need arises in the future,” the president’s letter concluded.
That was not the first time President Yar’adua paid a glowing tribute on Soludo. In a remarkable speech that he delivered during the 50th Year Anniversary of the Central Bank of Nigeria this year, the president said Soludo’s vision and programme of consolidation was the miracle that saved Nigerian banks from the catastrophe befalling their counterparts in most parts of the world as a result of the global economic and financial meltdown. Dozens of speakers had earlier testified to the same fact before the president’s sincere endorsement.
Commendations and praises for Soludo is not coming from only renowned economists, politicians and bankers, ordinary Nigerians who have no business playing with words or political gimmicks are pouring their hearts out in gratitude to Soludo who has become a role model of some sort to millions of young people across Nigeria and other parts of the world.
One would recall with gripping fear the mess that Nigerian banks were before Soludo was appointed as CBN Governor and how thousands of Nigerians lost their hard earned savings to those banks as they collapsed, and how Soludo, through the N25 billion bench mark recapitalisation and merger policy collapsed 89 banks existing into 24 solid and healthy institutions, ensuring that depositors go to sleep with their two eyes closed. And while many banks in the United States, UK, Australia, Canada and other developed economies are collapsing today, no bank in Nigeria is under a serious threat.
Many economic and financial analysts have openly wondered what would have been the fate of Nigeria and her economy if Soludo’s foresight and vision had not led to the bank capitalisation and to prove its efficacy, we now see UK, US, Canada, Russia and other countries just embarking on re- capitalization and merger in order to save their banks, borrowing a leaf from the Nigerian ingenuity.
Nigeria’s foreign reserve before Soludo was appointed CBN governor was about US$10 million. Today, our reserve has risen to well above US$50 billion. It was during his tenure that CBN introduced the micro-finance policy to give credit to small scale industries and enterprises. Today report indicates that over 900 of such micro-finance banks have been registered by CBN and they are all waxing strong.
The above is in addition to the revolution that the capital market experienced as a result of the bank recapitalisation which led to a boom in stock shares, leading to thousands of Nigerians earning millions of naira within very short periods. That was before the global economic crisis led to the crash of the capital market, a development that affected almost all nations of the world.
Although the value of the Nigerian Naira depreciated to some extent before the exit of Soludo from office, the former CBN boss had said that the depreciation was a deliberate policy by the apex bank to avert what would have been more devastating in view of the global financial and economic meltdown. Even at that, the Nigerian experience in that too was far better than what obtained elsewhere.
For example, the currencies of the United States, UK, Australia, Canada, Russia, South Korea, Ghana, Brazil, Turkey, India, South Africa and several others went down by up to 35 to 45%. And these are countries that are not dependent on oil alone as we do here. Yet, even with the fall of the price of oil prices in the international market from up to US$157 to US$47 when Soludo left office, Nigeria’s currency still wavered between 24 to 25% depreciation.
There is also the introduction of the ATM technology which makes it easier for depositors to have access to cash than was the case in the past. For a country where public officers are known to place their selfish interests above the common good, where corruption, lack of vision, ineptitude and inordinate ambition have combined to place our otherwise great nation among some of the poorest in the world, Soludo’s selflessness, exemplary leadership qualities, uncommon vision and patriotism which have combined to engender quality service delivery is indeed an inspiration and encouragement to every Nigerian, especially young people who see him as a shouting evidence that given opportunities, they can impact positively towards the building of Nigeria of their dream.
Melah is resident in Abuja can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.