By Femi Fani-Kayode
Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is not my favourite person and I have differences with him on many issues. I must, however, commend his immense courage for speaking out and exposing the monumental corruption in the government that he once served as CBN Governor and that has now decided that they no longer require his services.
Two weeks ago, he claimed that 20 billion US dollars had gone missing from the coffers of the NNPC. Today, he has been suspended and relieved of his duties for exposing the rot and speaking the truth. I have little doubt that the next thing that will happen is that he will be subjected to a formal probe and the EFCC will be called in to investigate his tenure of office. They will throw everything that they have got at him including the kitchen sink simply because he refused to play ball with them and cover up their penchant for monumental corruption and graft.
Some of us have been there before and we know what it is like. If you speak truth to power and you take on the system, be rest assured that the system will fight back and they will attempt to destroy you and all that is yours. Yet none of that matters, because the only thing that is relevant is the fact that history and posterity will be kind to Sanusi based on the choices that he has made.
He spoke out when others chose to remain silent and to compromise. Unlike others, he refused to sell his soul to the devil and to sell his heritage and birthright for a mess of pottage. Despite the significant differences that I have with this man in terms of our different outlooks to how and what Nigeria ought to be as a nation, I salute and commend him for his efforts.
I also make bold to say that with his noble stand he has assured himself of a great place in the next dispensation and he will play a key role in the future of this country one way or the other. May God guide and protect him in all his endeavours and may he continue to speak out with courage and strength and not allow himself to be intimidated or silenced.
Long is the road of righteousness and truth and it is often tarred with the spikes of persecution, misrepresentation and falsehood. Yet at the end of the day it is the only road that is worth taking and it is the only one that leads to lasting honour and glory.
May that honour and glory find Sanusi and may God reward him for putting the interests and welfare of the Nigerian people before that of the woeful and rotten administration that he once served.
This government has once again shown that it has no shame and that it is utterly bereft of any semblance of decency or morality. A man blows the whistle and exposes the fact that 20 billion USD has been stolen and instead of commending him and promoting him he is accused of wrongdoing, criminalised, villified and suspended. It is only in Nigeria that this sort of thing can happen.
It has happened to me and many others before and now it is happening to Sanusi. I commend his courage and his ability to stand up and speak the truth to power. No matter what the government accuses him of now and no matter what trumped-up charges or baseless allegations they may come up with against him in order to justify their actions, the Nigerian people will always be grateful to him and indebted to him for exposing the rot and filth that constitute the very foundation of the government that he once served.
The level of impunity and disdain that the Jonathan administration has for the people and for probity and accountability is second to none. The message that they are sending is clear- no whistleblower is safe in this country and in this government. Their intention is to destroy all those that have the courage to stand up to them and to intimidate us all into silence but they will fail woefully.
The more people they seek to destroy for no just cause and the more innocent men and women that they persecute for telling the truth and for exposing their monumental corruption and incompetence, the more they shall be resisted by the people. What they have done to Sanusi is disgraceful and they ought to bury their heads in shame.
Pertinent and appropriate are Sanusi’s own words when, after he was informed about his unceremonious suspension, he responded all the way from Niger Republic by saying ‘’you can suspend an individual but you can’t suspend the truth’’. He immediately boarded the plane and headed for Nigeria knowing fully well that the security agencies were waiting for him.
The plan was to arrest him on arrival in Abuja but he cleverly diverted his chartered flight to Lagos where close friends of his, including the former Minister of FCT, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, a true and loyal friend and brother if ever I knew one, was waiting for him. He managed to avoid arrest but on arrival at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, the authorities stopped him briefly and took his passport.
By that singular act, they have served him notice of their sinister intentions. In the coming days, weeks, months and even possibly years they will seek to humiliate him, to denigrate him, to malign him and to destroy his entire future. That is their intention but I firmly believe that it is not the intention of God and consequently they will fail. Providing he continues to stand firm and strong and remains undaunted, such an evil plan cannot work and will not work simply because, as the Holy Bible says, ‘’the counsel of the ungodly shall not stand’’. It also says ‘’to subvert a righteous man in his course is not allowed’’ and that ‘’many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord will deliver him of them all’’.
No matter how long it takes and no matter what they put him through, Sanusi’s innocence will speak for him before God and before the Nigerian people. It is from the fiery furnace of persecution, misrepresentation and victimisation that true heroes are born. There is a spirit that emboldens and that stirs the passion and the soul of true warriors once they are sufficiently provoked. That spirit is known as the spirit of truth and it cannot be intimidated or denied.
I must confess that it is very clear to me that Sanusi has that spirit and is possessed by that virtue. I say this because he was intelligent enough to know that with his utterances and his explosive disclosures about the graft in the NNPC and at the Ministry of Finance, he was stepping on very powerful toes, treading on very dangerous grounds and swimming in very troubled waters. Yet despite the obvious dangers he continued and he was quite unmindful and unperturbed about what the direct consequences of his actions may be in terms of his personal safety, the security of his tenure of office or his career as a public servant.
He was prepared to stand by and speak the truth no matter what and he was prepared to pay any price no matter whose ox was gored. That is the stuff of which heroes are made. How I wish that more of our people were made of such stern stuff. If President Jonathan was really interested in fighting the war against corruption, he would stop using his security agencies from tormenting and harassing innocent people.
If he wanted to suspend some of his key officials and if he really wanted truth and justice to prevail he would not have targetted an innocent whistleblower who had constituted himself into a thorn in his flesh but instead he would have suspended Mr. Andrew Yakubu, his Group MD of NNPC, Mrs. Dieazani Allison-Madueke, his alluring Minister of Petroleum Resources and Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, his Minister of Finance pending the investigation into the missing 20 billion USD.
Until he does that and as long as he continues to cover them all up and treat the Nigerian people with contempt and impunity no right-thinking person will take him or his administration seriously. This is all the more so for the following reasons. Firstly because it is a matter of public record that the accounts of NNPC have not been audited since 2005, secondly because Allison-Madueke and the NNPC have admitted that 3.5 billion USD was spent on kerosene subsidy without appropriation and specifically against presidential directive and thirdly because Okonjo-Iweala has conceded that at least 10.5 billion USD has gone missing and she has called for a formal probe into the whole matter so that all the figures can be reconciled. How I wish that at this point she would have resigned. The Ngozi that I once knew, who was a woman of impeccable breeding and deep substance and character, would certainly have done so.
Sadly not many of the Jonathanians are familiar with the works of William Shakespeare simply because Shakespeare is not too popular in the creeks. Yet the few amongst them that are up to the task would do well to consider the words of Julius Caeser when he said “it is the custom of the immortal gods to grant temporary prosperity and a fairly long period of impunity to those whom they plan to punish for their crimes, so that they may feel it all the more keenly as a result of the change in their fortunes”.
Those amongst the President’s supporters that truly love him and that have his interest at heart would do well to explain to him the import of these deeply profound words and wise counsel from Shakespeare’s ‘’Julius Caesar’’. As for Sanusi it is very clear to me that the sky is the limit for him. Whether he likes it or not his journey into the turbulent world of partisan politics has just begun and I suspect strongly that he has an appointment with destiny.
Permit me to end this contribution with the following observation. In the last few days much has been made about the fact that I have criticised Sanusi quite often in the past and that I have openly disagreed with some of his actions as Governor of Central Bank. It has also been said that on another occasion I raised some fundamental questions about what I described as his ‘’flawed and indefensible’’ position on the oil subsidy debate in 2012, his controversial views on Boko Haram, his position on revenue allocation vis a vis the North and South and his harsh and historically inaccurate assertions about the Yoruba people a number of years ago.
It is true that I opposed him on those matters and that I took those positions on those issues and I stand by each and every one of them. I do not see any big deal in that. Yet many appear to be rather surprised that I would now be one of those defending the very same Sanusi.
Those who have expressed such surprise and that see this as some kind of glaring contradiction simply do not understand me. And neither do they appreciate the complexities of national debate and the importance of being completely detached and objective when it comes to any form of intellectual or public discourse. The truth is that I do not take positions against individuals but rather on specific issues.
Hence, I may be your friend and defender one day and your greatest critic and detractor the very next depending on what your position is on any specific matter. That is the essence of public discourse and intellectual debate. That is its nature. We must not be motivated or moved by personal considerations or by our love or hate for any individual but rather by principle, morality, logic, facts and figures, justice and the rights and wrongs of the specific issues of the day. No-one is all good and no-one is all bad. And neither is anyone, including yours truly, always right.
The fact that I have disagreed with Sanusi over the last 20 years on a number of matters including the ‘’National Question’’ does not mean that I ought to support the fact that he is being treated in the most deplorable way by President Goodluck Jonathan. Though he and I disagree vehemently on many things it does not mean that we are enemies for life and neither does it mean that I should relish in it and remain silent when he is being treated unjustly and when he is being persecuted, humiliated and rubbished by the Federal Government.
This is all the more so when he has courageously exposed the rot in the Jonathan administration. He may have got it wrong on other matters but on this issue I make bold to say that Sanusi got it right and he did the proper thing. He deserves my support, just as he deserves the support of all right-thinking people, and he can be rest assured that he has it.