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Sanusi Lamido: A Devil As A Saint? By Remi Oyeyemi 

March 3, 2014

"It is indeed in the interest of the South-Westerners and South-Easterners for some affirmative actions to be taken to redress the situation, else there will be no real peace in this country moving forward.” 

"It is indeed in the interest of the South-Westerners and South-Easterners for some affirmative actions to be taken to redress the situation, else there will be no real peace in this country moving forward.” 

--Mallam Falalu Bello, MD Unity Bank of Nigeria in a statement that preceded the appointment of Sanusi Lamido as the CBN governor after the lamentations of Arewa Consultative Forum about the North being disadvantaged in the Banking Industry.
 
 
The controversy raised by the suspension of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has become rowdy and almost cacophonous that it is becoming difficult for the real issues involved to be isolated.  As a result of dislike of President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency by some Nigerians and the opposition parties, the issue of Lamido’s suspension has been politicised. To this end, cogent and pertinent issues about the competence and or otherwise of Lamido has been obscured unduly.

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Mr. Amen Oyakhire, a former Military Administrator of Oyo and Taraba states called Sanusi Lamido “a man of strong integrity” on page 34 of the Saturday Tribune of March 1, 2014. After reading his article in question, my conclusion is that it is either the retired military officer does not know the meaning of the word “integrity” and the concomitant adjective “strong” he used, or he is thoroughly confused about the issues at stake. Or still, he is trying to be mischievous. It was the late US Senator Patrick Moniyan from New York who postulated the idea of being entitled to one’s opinion but not to one’s facts. Mr. Oyakhire, like every other supporter of Sanusi, is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Let us begin with the grounds of indictment put forward by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN). According to the body, Sanusi is allegedly involved in the following misdeeds:

a.      Financial infractions and recklessness as manifested in the audited financial statements for 2012.
b.      CBN’s failure to comply with the Public Procurement Act in its procured practices.
c.      Deployment of large sums of money without appropriation and outside the statutory mandate of the CBN and contrary to the CBN Establishment Act 2007.
d.      Unauthorized approval of CBN’s acquisition of shares of the International Islamic Liquidity management Corporation of Malaysia in 2010 without the consent of the President or the CBN Board contrary to sections 34 and 31 of the CBN Act 2007.
e.       Unauthorized utilization of funds under the Banking Resolution Sinking Fund without the approval of Board of Trustees of the Fund (though the Board of Trustees has yet to be constituted since 2010).
f.       Sanusi who went after Financial institutions for a lot of “shady operations” supervised the alleged evasion of taxes by CBN workers as well as the failure of the Bank to prepare its financial statements using International Financial Reporting Standards. 

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Aside from the above grounds, it is in the public domain that this Sanusi is the same man who reportedly donated one hundred (100)million naira to victims of Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalists in Kano. Later he donated fifty (50) million naira to another set of victims in Benin. Up till now, he has not accounted for where this money came from. Is it from the vault of the CBN or from his pocket? If it is from his pocket, where did he get the money? If it comes from the CBN vault, did he have any statutory power to dip his hands into the vault of the CBN to spend that kind of money? 

What about the reported four (4) billion naira Sanusi claimed he donated to a University? Where did he get that kind of money? Is this our commonwealth from the CBN or his inheritance as the son of Kano’s Emir? More so, the University even claimed that it only received one (1) billion naira and not four (4) billion naira! So what happened to the difference of three (3) billion naira? Is this not the same Sanusi that the opponents of President Jonathan are calling the “messiah” of our economy and the man with “strong integrity?”

It is not a secret that Lamido is a cantankerous human being. A very arrogant, condescending and obtuse personality, he believes that his royal roots bring everyone else, including the President of Nigeria, beneath him. He does what he wants, the way he wants anytime he wants in flagrant disregard of the law. He says what he wants the way he wants anytime he wants in blatant insensitivity to the feelings of others. He does not believe that anyone could hold him responsible beyond what he figures to be his own characterization of responsibility.

Thus when he egotistically declared that President Jonathan has the power to “hire” him but does not have the power to “fire” him, he was in his usual element of superciliousness and haughtiness, convinced that he was “untouchable” and bigger than anyone in Nigeria. He was suggesting that he was more powerful than the President of the country and he can do and say whatever pleases him without any consequence!

The suspension of Sanusi by President Jonathan is “good riddance to bad rubbish”, apology to late Chief Bola Ige, the Cicero of Esa-Oke. President Jonathan who obviously had been slow to act until now, gave him (Lamido) the coverage to make himself look better than he actually is. Those who are criticizing the President are political opportunists and protagonists of administrative and systemic anarchy. Goodluck Jonathan may have his own challenges as the president of Nigeria, but in this case he has done the right thing. No public servant could be bigger than the president of the country. Not even Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the treasured son of the revered Emir of Kano! 

One is yet to see an obnoxiously loquacious governor of a Central Bank of any nation comparable to Sanusi Lamido. Rather than work quietly to stabilize and sanitize the economy, he has out of vacuous arrogance, engaged in power struggle with the presidency of the country. He made the country a laughing stock in the comity of nations with the confusion he has created out of sheer conceitedness and odious exudation of “I am above the law” attitude.

His pompous garrulity has created serious discomfort for the economy. Naira has never fallen this far in the international market. His economic theories are not only weird but catastrophic for the country as evident in increased unemployment and social insecurity. The lending rates are so astronomical that businesses have been financially incapacitated. New business ideas have remained mute because of his lending policies. Investments from foreign companies have remained catatonic at best.

A guileful and thoroughly untidy man shrouded in a thick cocoon of cocky indiscipline and sour insubordination draped with nauseating overestimation of self, he first told us forty-nine (49) billion US dollars was missing from the NNPC account. Later he made a public pronouncement that it was only ten (10) billion naira. Then he came back to testify on the floor of the Senate and jacked it up to twenty (20) billion US dollars! Which figures are we to believe? He never explained why the differences in the figures he gave to the public. 

While the NNPC has been a dirty outfit in terms of financial management, what Sanusi did was tantamount to sheer blackmail coming out with unverifiable and confusing figures just to grab attention. Or what sort of CBN governor would go public without being sure of his facts and figures? Or does he not realize the impact of his statements on market mechanisms? As the CBN governor, you are not allowed to be frivolous and uncertain. You are not allowed to make unguarded statements. You are expected to be a perfect study in conservatism, caution, circumspection, control, calmness, coolness and perspicacity.

Having lived in the United States of America for about twenty years, I have never seen, heard or read that any Chairman of the Federal Reserve (an equivalent of the CBN governor in Nigeria) donated money publicly for a cause. From Charles Hamlin, the man who first held the post, through Alan Greenspan to the incumbent, Janet Yellen, I have never seen, heard or read that any of them made comments to suggest odious insubordination like that of Sanusi. I am yet to see any of them become megalomaniacs seeking undue attention by engaging in spurious and octane activism. Rather they have been cool headed human beings focused on driving the economy of the country positively and allowing the law enforcement agencies to track down corrupt elements and prosecute them while they put in corrective mechanism to plug legal loopholes.

Sanusi’s agenda at the CBN was not in the national interest. His fake cleansing of the banking industry is just a camouflage to empower the Northern hegemony in the banking industry. He is a veiled fundamentalist who is determined to destroy the orthodox financial principles and practices of the CBN that has hitherto been within the confines of internationally accepted standard and laws as is evident from his actions as the governor. 
 
Interestingly, because Nigerians are so fed up with the issue of corruption, it is easy for Sanusi to deceive them and hide under the dubious gab of activism to accomplish his diabolical objectives, thus seeming like a saint to the public when he is indeed very unclean and grimy. But what do you expect from a fundamentalist Islamic Studies scholar catapulted to the Central Bank governance because of his royal roots?

This is a man over whose head the allegation of plagiarism is still hanging in a court of law. Though, the court is yet to make final pronouncement on this issue, this is a big enough scandal for anyone in his position in saner climes to resign his position. But his brazenness and superiority complex would not even let him realize the boundaries of decorum. For Mr. Oyakhire and those of his ilk to attribute “strong integrity” to this kind of person is as amazing and disturbing as it is emblematic of an utter lack of seriousness and undue trivialization.

Some Sanusi apologists are hammering on the independence of the CBN and its governor. Does the independence of the CBN and its governor means disruptive and disguised guile? Is the CBN a separate government from that of the country? Does the CBN have a different policy outside the one enacted by the government of the day? Does the independence of the CBN means violations of statutory laws without let or hindrance? Does it mean that a berserk official like the former CBN governor in Sanusi could continue to run riot like a bull in the China shop without being called to order?

This is where the ICPC comes in. This agency is supposed to have gone after Sanusi and ask him questions. It ought to have held Sanusi’s feet to fire and help the public to know if their CBN governor is not over-stepping his boundaries and not mismanaging their economy. But the ICPC is a fairly incapacitated agency. It has limited resources to follow up on several sections of the polity boldly marked in corruption like the CBN under Sanusi. With an annual budget of mere 3.5 billion naira, the ICPC needs more support from the government in terms of resources to be able to do better if they are serious about fighting corruption. A situation where the ICPC could not even afford to pay lawyers for prosecuting indicted elements is very unsavoury. It is time to for the ICPC to be empowered to be able to go after malodorous “holier than thou” office holders like Sanusi. 

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters