The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Charles Soludo, has said that but for the banking consolidation he supervised, there would be no mega-businesses and the rich would not be where they are today.
Professor Soludo, who said this in Awka, the Anambra State capital city, also listed the dangers he faced in the consolidation drive to reduce the number of banks by merging them and increasing their capital base from $15 million to $200 million within 18 months. He said he received about 19 threats and an attempt was made to kidnap his children.
According to him, no bank in Nigeria was in the top 1,000 banks in the world and if you needed to make an investment of $500 million, you had to go through the then 39 banks. Also, he noted, if you wanted to borrow abroad, there was no bank here to guarantee that.
However, Soludo said, when he started the consolidation, “in the 28th month, we finished. We had 25 healthy banks, scrapped 14 and cleared up the system. “Three years after, 14 Nigerian banks made it to the top 1,000 banks in the world, and two of them made the top 300 banks in the world. “That was when Nigerian banks began to have the muscle to be able to compete for big businesses.”
According to Soludo, before the banking consolidation, mega-businesses were impossible in Nigeria, including airline business. “The rich and mighty in Nigeria would not have been where they are today without banking consolidation. “All of a sudden, businesses that could not borrow a few 100 million are now signing a $100 billion downstream investment. “Impossible was the word before we came. The good thing was that it cost Nigeria zero to achieve it,” Soludo said.
Soludo was CBN governor from 2004 to 2009, in the administrations of former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Vanguard reported that Soludo, a professor of economics, has declared his intention to run for the governorship of Anambra State in the November 6 poll.