Yesterday, I criticized the illegal donation of N100 million to victims of the Boko Haram menace in Kano by Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. In a misguided defence of the action the Central Bank has stated that it had concluded arrangements to extend similar financial assistance to victims of the bomb attack at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State.
In a very arrogant manner, the CBN management further stated, “it should be noted that this is not the first time that the Central Bank of Nigeria is assisting victims of disasters. Just recently, we built N500 million bridge that links the two campuses of University of Benin after series of mishaps”. The statement deliberately omitted the fact that the said sum of N500 million was donated to the University of Benin by Malam Sanusi to pay for the honorary doctorate degree conferred on him by the institution last year.
In view of the misleading reaction of the CBN management to my criticism it is germane to point out the illegality of the engagement of the CBN in philanthropic activities. The attention of Malam Sanusi should be drawn to Section 2 of the CBN Act, which stipulates that the principal objectives of the Bank shall be to:
“a. ensure monetary and price stability;
b. issue legal tender currency in Nigeria
c. maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the legal tender currency;
d. promote a sound financial system in Nigeria; and
e. act as banker and provide economic and financial advice to the Federal Government.”
From the law setting up the Central Bank of Nigeria the diversion of public funds to assist victims of disasters is illegal in every material particular. The management of the Central Bank cannot be allowed to continue to dissipate public funds under the pretext of carrying out any social responsibility outside the ambit of the law. The extension of financial assistance to victims of bomb blast in Niger State has not addressed the impunity of Malam Sanusi in the circumstance.
I wish to state, without any fear of contradiction, that the Central Bank has usurped the functions of the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA) by providing financial assistance to victims of disasters. For the avoidance of doubt section 6 of the NEMA Act has conferred powers on the Agency to:
“g. co-ordinate the activities of all voluntary organizations engaged in emergency relief operations in any part of the Federation;
h. receive financial and technical aid from international organizations and non-governmental agencies for the purpose of disaster management in Nigeria.
i. Collect emergency relief supply from local and foreign sources and from international and non-governmental agencies.
j. Distribute emergency relief materials to victims of natural or other disasters and assist in the rehabilitation of the victims where necessary.
From the unambiguous provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act and the NEMA it is crystal clear that Malam Sanusi has usurped the statutory duties of NEMA. By donating hundreds of million of Naira not appropriated by the National Assembly the CBN governor has treated the provisions of Section 81 of the Constitution with disdain.
In the light of the foregoing, the CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi should be sanctioned for his reckless justification of the boko haram menace and diversion of public funds to promote his religious and political ambition. In addition, he should be made to refund public funds that have been illegally donated by him to schools and victims of disasters.