The stormy ending of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure as Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor is not coming as a surprise to many keen followers of recent events around the apex bank.
The CBN has in the past few months become a theater of melodramas, with the suspended CBN Governor’s histrionics featuring very prominently in each episode.
As in melodramas, sensationalism was a very visible feature in the acts, the reason being to appeal to the emotions of Nigerians who watched.
Of course, since the drama reached a new climax some days ago following Sanusi’s suspension, it has become clear that the CBN scriptwriters have successfully appealed to the emotions and sentiments of most Nigerians who draw judgment from the federal government’s action.
Sentiments have apparently taken the place of reasoning and objectivist discourse.
Trust that while corporate entities like the CBN have a way of weathering the storms and quickly regaining stability following a high-profile shake up like this, the media world will characteristically continue to bustle with the subject of Sanusi suspension by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Barely three days since the announcement of the suspension, there have been waves of comments in the media profiling the pros and cons of the move by the president.
But what appears to be deliberately snubbed in the avalanche of discussions on the matter is the crux of the suspension itself.
There is the overwhelming departure of majority of those challenging the suspension from what I consider the crux of the matter – Federal Government’s allegations of serial infractions and financial recklessness by Sanusi.
I am asking that rather than belabor the suspension issue with emotions and unfounded sentiments, Nigerians should make the issues raised against Mallam Sanusi by the federal government the epicenter of the debate.
Let us discuss the content of the suspension as in the letter to Sanusi by the Secretary to the Federal Government.
The argument replete in the media that Sanusi’s sack stems from the man’s recent whistle-blowing is as juvenile as it is sentimental.
What difference will the sack make in the alleged case of some missing billions of Nigeria’s petrodollars?
If anything, the suspension of Sanusi will only successfully concentrate international and local attention on the said missing money thereby forcing the federal government to take seriously and make more transparent the facts-finding process on the whereabouts of the funds.
The suspension of Sanusi has just placed a renewed burden on the federal government to not only come out with the money if truly it is missing, but to also have heads rolling in the petroleum sector in like manner as Sanusi is paying for alleged misconducts in the CBN.
Sanusi’s removal has not stopped the fact that the national assembly is investigating his claims of the missing money. And come to think of it, Sanusi’s claim of some missing money cannot be bought wholesale in the first place.
Now, there is a question of credibility on his claims following his faux pas some months ago on a similar claim of some unremitted monies by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Sanusi disappointed Nigerians with his reversal of self at the Senate few days after his claim.
First it was 49billion dollars that he said was missing.
He would later reverse himself to 12billion and further to 10billion after admitting that he got his figures wrong, and then to 20billion dollars in what now appears like a childish prank played on Nigerians by a high-ranking government official as the CBN Governor.
Rather than condemn the suspension outright, the challenge before those questioning the President’s action is that they ask Mallam Sanusi to come out in defence of the hordes of allegations of financial recklessness and lawlessness given as reasons for his suspension from office.
Sanusi should be urged to come out with his own side of the story.
Commentaries should focus on whether Sanusi is liable to the particulars of infractions as enumerated in his letter of disengagement.
The proper challenge would be to provide convincing evidences proving that Mallam Sanusi did not persistently contravene Section 15 subsection 1(a) of the Public Procurement Act by engaging in the procurement of goods and services amounting to billions of Naira without the permission of the Bureau of Public Procurement.
It would amount to mere noisemaking to challenge Sanusi’s suspension without providing evidences to the contrary that Mallam Sanusi’s spendthrift ‘intervention projects’ were illegal, self-serving, and without adherence to the federal character principles as enshrined in our constitution.
By now, Sanusi should have begun to roll out comprehensive facts to the effect that, as against the scathing reports to the President by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, the former CBN Governor complied with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as required by the law; never breached the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Deposit Money Banks by unlawfully utilizing the banking resolution sinking funds without requisite approvals.
It is appearing that Nigerians’ emotions are being deliberately tapped on to suppress what might be the truth.
Otherwise, those close to Mallam Sanusi would have told the man that rather than his pity party adventure by giving the impression of being witch-hunted, the honourable thing to do is simply to put the records straight on his alleged acquisition of 7% shares worth more than 7billion Naira in a Malaysian Islamic Corporation without the approval of the President and contrary to the CBN Act 2007.
What is Sanusi’s response to his alleged spending of over 1.2billion Naira on ‘Private guards’ and ‘lunch for policemen’, almost three times of that sum on advertising the CBN, and more than 20billion Naira on ‘legal and professional fees’?
Amongst others, these are the issues which the Federal Government has raised as grounds for the easing off of Mallam Sanusi.
As a matter of fact, the onus lies on Sanusi to prove government’s claims wrong and unfounded.
Why would you set standards for passing judgment on another man but would not have same standards adopted in judging you?
Or has equity ceased to be approached with clean hands?
The challenge against Sanusi’s removal can only make sense within the social media, TV and radio stations.
We should shift the discourse to the issues raised by Sanusi’s former employer otherwise the protest against his suspension can only to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Only an honest address of the matter can properly position it in the open courts of conscience for Nigerians to do justice.
A concern which is also not to be ignored in discussing the Sanusi saga is the man’s irreverence of authority.
Mallam Sanusi’s relationship with the presidency has overtime revealed just how much he may have been contemptuously dealing with his employer, a result of which was his recurring faceoff with the President and other high-ranking members of the executive.
Need I state how very unprincely this is? Sanusi told the Financial Times of London some years ago that his ambition is to be the Emir of Kano. But as a crowned Prince and one whose ambition – ordinate or inordinate – is to one day occupy a seat as revered as that of the Emir, I believe that disobedience to constituted authority and treating of people in high offices with sassiness should feature least in his character.
To even think that a crowned Prince would openly express the urgency in his spirit to succeed a living Emir is a moral question we can leave for another day’s debate.
Sanusi’s attitude since the announcement of his suspension from office has further underscored his sheer impudence for authority.
It was therefore little wonder that immediately after his suspension was announced, Sanusi found warmth in none other but in the open arms of the likes of Mallam Nasir Elrufai, a man whose recent activities in our national polity is anything but activism which he unfortunately thinks it is.
Following his achievements in his hay days in government, El-rufai was my ideal successor to then President Olusegun Obasanjo. The other gentleman, whose style of politics and refinement inspired me was Mr Nuhu Ribadu.
I held these two in very high regard and thought either of them would do excellently as Baba’s successor.
As much as I think both men still have their enviable places as individuals who have contributed so much to the progress of their fatherland, El-rufai’s playing of politics with almost every national issue has put me off the man, with every due respect to him.
We saw Elrufai posting on twitter a convoy of Sanusi entering Ikoyi shortly after the suspension announcement as if to say ‘a hero was back’.
This was followed by other incisive posts on his Twitter handle concerning the suspension.
As childish as this was, it further expressed the arrogance of men who would rather whip up sentiments and incite unsuspecting Nigerians against government rather than address salient issues raised.
One expected the likes of Elrufai to urge Sanusi to depart from sentiments and engage the federal government point-for-point, and reason-for-reason.
Only in doing this can we have a balanced and informed debate on his suspension.
Until Mallam Sanusi can come up to counter the claims of massive infractions by him, howbeit detailed and not skewed, with necessary convincing annexations as done by the federal government in the report against him, he has only successfully registered his name in the books of technocrats who saw their offices as veritable platforms to turn politicians.
Going viral on the internet and moving from one TV or radio station to another is not going to change the perception that he turned a politician while in office.
He can only talk politics to those who care to listen to anything short of a factual defence of the allegations against him.
Instead of dissipate energy on barren talks, I think it is time for a sober reflection for the former CBN Governor.
Sanusi should resist the temptation to be dragged into the nonprofit venture of puerile activism as canvassed by Mallam Elrufai.
Let me add that whether the decision by the President to sack Sanusi is political or not is a question of perception.
Assessors of the situation are entitled to draw whatever conclusion they deem fit.
But I believe that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was given the powers to act at all times in the best interest of the people and institutions of Nigeria.
I am of the view that he has acted to save Nigeria’s apex bank from the brink of ruin.
Until Sanusi can prove otherwise, I believe the president has acted altogether in good faith.
I will not fail in my responsibility as a citizen of Nigeria to criticize government where government is proven to have erred in the Sanusi suspension.
For now, the ball is in Sanusi’s court to challenge my sense of judgment.
[Sent in by: Hon. Onofiok Akpan Luke - A lawmaker in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly]