WHENEVER a newly appointed public office holder newly sets out by criticising and even underplaying all the efforts of his or her predecessor that is a red flag. This was precisely my earliest concern about the competence of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi years ago when he was named Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Yes, Sanusi started out with the wrong assumption that the only way he could legitimise his appointment and win popular acceptance was by demonizing his immediate predecessor in office, the very erudite Chukwuma Soludo.
Thus, within a few months into what is now a tragic regime, Sanusi dissipated energy on undoing all the honest efforts of Soludo, portraying him in bad light as a poor manager of the economy, and even when executing the plans of the former governor, Sanusi lacked the courage and integrity to credit his predecessor just because of his cravings to be seen as a helluva banker.
Well, the chicken has come home to roost and Sanusi’s rabidity, which has been mistaken for competence, by not quite a few, has unravelled. To be fair, not all Nigerians bought Sanusi’s dummy. Quite early in the day, Pat Utomi characteristically was unafraid of his voice and spoke out succinctly on what he thought was a bad appointment as the CBN governor.
He was particularly worried that Sanusi’s rabid approach would not augur well for the economy, especially his interventions in the banking sector as opposed to the discreet style adopted by Soludo. It is a shame today, that Utomi’s comments on the suspension of Sanusi, which are consistent with his earlier position, are now being misconstrued by the opposition because a bank which he chaired was one of those that the CBN Governor sanctioned.
From the stories now coming from those who were shut up before – when Sanusi was holding sway – how are we sure that even the predicament of Utomi was not a consequence of his earlier opposition to Sanusi’s appointment?
It is even more disheartening that the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, is defending and supporting Sanusi in the face of serious allegations of incompetence, fraud, wastefulness, abuse of due process for which he has been suspended from office by the President.
The Report of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria dated 7th June, 2013 is so damning that it is a shame that a political party like APC that has been pontificating on due process and fighting corruption is the one defending the suspended CBN Governor. If all that APC has been doing is not grandstanding, the party ought to have been very angry with President Jonathan for keeping Sanusi on the job long after the report of the FRCN.
Comment (a) of the Report for instance, states inter alia: “The explanation provided is a clear display of incompetence, nonchalance, fraud, wastefulness, abuse of due process and deliberate efforts to misrepresent facts on the part of the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria”.
After going through this unambiguous submission, it is still unbelievable that a party that claims to be an advocate of due process and anti-corruption is rather celebrating and defending a man that a credible professional regulatory body as FRCN has indicted.
Why would the APC not be worried that the man whose responsibility it is to regulate the monetary policy of the country is presenting financial statements that are unreliable for decision making? As the FRCN Report indicates, the financial statement that seems to have put Sanusi in trouble was highly abridged with poor disclosures of transactions and at best contained figures that were mere allocations to items to arrive at a predetermined number.
The Report also clearly stated that the CBN claimed it paid the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting N38.233 billion in 2011 for “printing of banknotes” whereas, in fact, the turnover of the company (NSPM) is N29.370 billion. Sanusi’s CBN also claimed it paid Emirate Airline N0.51 Billion to distribute currency by air nationwide when everybody knows it for a fact that Emirate does not fly local charter flights in the country.
Wing Airline, which Sanusi claims to have paid N0.425 billion is not registered with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority; and Associated Airline, which Sanusi claimed he paid N1.025 billion, according to FRCN report, cannot boast of a billion naira turnover in the year in question.
Yet, this is the same CBN Governor that dragged bank executives disgracefully on the streets of Lagos for allegedly falsifying figures, granting fraudulent loans and engaging in insiders credit abuse!
As we all know, the main responsibility of the CBN is to act as the banker to the government and to provide economic and financial advice to the Federal Government. From what is coming out now, it is clear that the CBN, under Sanusi, is not primed to carry out this all-important responsibility to the government. As the FRCN Report has shown, there is no credibility, integrity and professionalism in the CBN system under Sanusi.
It is heart-rending to hear that a central bank can compromise joint external auditors and that Sanusi threw corporate governance out of the window. By taking important decisions alone like that of the annual financial statement, the suspended CBN Governor deprived the nation the services of the Board that was carefully chosen to regulate monetary policies in the land.
It is quite obvious that Sanusi was too distracted to be an efficient and competent CBN Governor. The many reports of his peccadilloes and his widely advertised dream of becoming the Emir of Kano when the incumbent is still alive did not help matters. Is it therefore surprising that under Sanusi’s watch, the Naira that used to exchange for about $130 is now exchanging for about $163? But what is indeed baffling for many watchers of Nigeria is the manner that the APC is defending Sanusi, a man who has heaps of fraud allegations hanging on his neck.
This is the same APC that shouted vociferously for the removal of Stella Oduah for allegations of corruption; how come the same people are now decorating and canonizing Sanusi for even more heinous crime? So this is how APC plans to run the Nigerian economy if it comes to power!
*Mr. KAYODE OJO, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos.