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Missing $49.8bn and missing organs in the Nigerian economy – 2

By Dele Sobowale

“Nothing is more despicable than a professional talker who uses his words as a quack uses his remedies.” Francois De Felon, 1651-1715.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 202).

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former Governor Of Central Bank, CBN, was not only a professional banker, but a professional manager as well. As the Managing Director of the First Bank Plc, it would have been unthinkable of him to announce that a large amount of money was missing from the bank, given the dire consequences for the bank of that revelation, without being totally certain that it was true.

Furthermore, when the issue is finance, the Governor of every Central Bank is second only to the President or Prime Minister with respect to such matters. It is absolutely unimaginable that the Governor of the Bank of England would announce that $49.8b of revenue due to the country had not been remitted without crashing the Capital Market the next day and for days until the facts are known.

The former CBN Governor, fortunately for hi8m, but unfortunately for us, worked in a country where the Nigerian Stock Exchange does not respond to such alarms – true or false. In his own case, it turned out to be mostly false. There was no $49.8b thar was not remitted. As pointed out last week, there was no way 76% of crude oil revenue could have gone un-remitted and most states would have been able to continue to operate.

“Forgiveness to the injured does belong; for they ne’er pardon who have done the wrong.” (VBQ p 63).

Certainly, Sanusi must have been aware, even as he sent the letter to President Jonathan, which was later leaked, that he was placing, at least three peoples’ job in jeopardy – the President, the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Minister of Finance. Yet weeks, after sending the leaked letter, and generating the mob hysteria which, predictably, followed, he did not on his own correct himself, or tender a public apology to those he had indirectly defamed.

Professional ethics demands that, after that unpardonable mistake, Sanusi should have issued another statement to the entire global community, admitting his grievous error, and then, voluntarily resign his appointment. He refused to do that. Instead, he continued to encourage the mob hysteria which he had set in motion – even after he appeared before the Senate Committee which was established to look into the matter. Permit me at this point to reveal what the former CBN Governor told the Senate, who were collateral victims of his smear campaign against all those who failed to join the lynch mob.

According to the Senate Committee report, which the former Governor of the CBN and his lynch mob failed to read, the following observations were made on pages 45 and 46:
“3. The Committee could not see how the figure of US$49.8billion was arrived at by the CBN Governor in the first instance.
4. That the CBN Governor at the first hearing had put forward the figure of US$12billion as the monies to be reconciled and changed his position to US$20 billion at subsequent hearing.

At the conclusion of his written submission he [CBN Governor] posited that it could be US$20 billion, US$12 billion $10.8 billion or anything in between. [Italics mine].
Obviously, Sanusi is not one to allow facts to get in the way of demagoguery. However, anybody, whose brain is not missing, can readily observe that the former CBN Governor had committed a blunder for which any bank Chief Executive Officer could have been sacked by his Board. Any figure specifically mentioned by a professional banker or accountant are expected to be accurate and reliable. When the amount is so staggering none will ever whisper it, let alone put it in writing without putting his job on the line. Let me illustrate from an example from abroad.

As a Management Trainee, at Polaroid Corporation, in 1972, in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  I was sent to the Financial Analysis section. Financial analysts start where the accountants finish to mine valuable information from various ratios, trends etc. In 1973, the Assistant Vice President, in charge of our section, had sent a report to the Senior Vice President (Finance) – his boss.

One of the figures presented turned out to be 5% inaccurate. For being 5% off, the fellow was sacked outright. A lesson had been taught to all of us – accuracy in the presentation of financial data in sacrosanct. No nation in the world would have failed to take action against its central banker for raising such a false alarm.

When we turn to the figures presented by the former CBN Governor to the Senate Committee, US$49.8b, US$20b, US$12b and US$10.8b – the variances range from 40% to nearly 80%. As things stand right now, Nigerians are not sure how much, if any sum, is “missing”. None of those who joined the hysteria has any idea either.

Where in the world, except in the world of the mob which still holds Sanusi in high esteem, does a Central banker commit such a blunder, coupled with indirect defamation, without voluntarily resigning his appointment or getting kicked out for monumental incompetence. Jonathan, in fact, was extremely charitable. He proceeded to provide the fellow, who had sent the lynch mob after the President, with the soft landing of suspension. Instead of gratitude, the former CBN Governor went to court. And he continued to plat to the gallery, blaming the victims of his unprofessional conduct and getting hailed for it.

Sanusi, the unprofessional banker was not the only professional who is missing something. There is a lawyer….


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