By Josef Omorotionmwan
EVIDENTLY, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has been quite loquacious. Since his ascendancy to the position of CBN Governor, there has been no holding the parrot’s mouth. He has made his opinion readily available on every topic, including those vexatious political issues that had nothing to do with his role as the CBN Governor.
He soon appeared to have talked himself into irrelevance and not many were still prepared to keep listening to his monologue. Incidentally, talk-talk is not the stuff of which Central Bank Governors are made, the world-over. On the very rare cases where Central Bank Governors spoke, it was like the great oracle descending from a height to commune with earthly mortals. People listened with rapt attention and sometimes, the weight of their pronouncement sent shivers through markets across the world.
Such was the weight of the utterances of people like Allan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Paul Volker and Mervyn King. Even back home, we remember men like Clement Isong, Adamu Ciroma, Addulkadir Ahmed, Joseph Sanusi who were of the conservative bent, not given to too much talking. But with the entry of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the space for outspokenness and a bit of radicalism soon began to open up.
The only way to be fair to the new entrants is to see them as people who would not keep their mouths shut at the sight of evil and Nigeria has since become one place where scandal and miscellaneous malfeasance are so common-place that they have lost their shock values. While they may be speaking to satisfy their propensity for voicing out the ills of society, the rest of us may have fallen so long into the latrine that the stench no longer makes any meaning to us.
The Jonathan administration is so stuck in its ways that it would see no evil, fear no evil and hear no evil. But Sanusi would not stop blowing the whistle. In more civilised climes, Sanusi’s shouts would have been sufficient to trigger off a quake that could pull down any government.
In the process, Sanusi has been most inconsistent in his application of figures but most consistent in his approach, which is now code-named an attack on the government in which he serves.
Nigeria we hate (oops, hail) thee. This is one country where the head of the Apex Bank would make the most explosive allegation of the most serious financial impropriety on the richest parastatal in the land and the head of that parastatal would simply dismiss the allegation with a wave of the hand and life continues.
Sometimes, Sanusi has attempted to cast the proverbial stone on the roof with a view to determining the exact location of the house owner. He started by writing a letter to the President that the sum of $49.8 billion was missing from the public till. At reconciliation, he climbed down to $12 billion “unaccounted for”. It was at this point that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, accepted that the actual amount unaccounted for was “only $10.8 billion”. Take note, we are not talking of N10:80K but $10,800,000,000! This is what the NNPC has frittered away into illegal kerosene subsidy and nobody should talk!
Quite often, people blame Sanusi for what has become known as his inconsistency and not waiting to cross-check his figures before rushing to the public domain. But would this not also depend on how much cooperation he gets from the agencies?
Sanusi is a one-man riot squad. He has told the National Assembly where it pains them; he has told the President where it hurts him; and he has told all those in the petroleum industry where it injures them. Who on earth will cooperate with such a person? Does he even require your cooperation? For him, the truth must be told, even at the edge of doom.
Should we not listen to such a man who has now thrown a fresh bombshell – that $20 billion (over N3 trillion), being part of the proceeds from the sale of crude oil for the period January 2012-July 2013, has vamoosed from the treasury? He even went ahead to inform us of the specific period during which NNPC did not make any remittance to the CBN.
Rather than do the needful, the Federal Government and its NNPC have devised various smear tactics and mudslinging, all reminiscent of the dirty politics of yesteryears, on the man. He has been called all sorts of disparaging names and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC has poured invectives on him, describing him as ignorant because “CBN is a banking outfit and NNPC is a petroleum outfit… Sanusi lacks the understanding of the technicalities of the oil industry”. What technicalities does anyone require to know that money received is not remitted to the appropriate quarters?
Finally, they have fallen back on their usual tactic – a rented crowd has now appeared on the scene, threatening to occupy the CBN if Sanusi is not arrested and prosecuted. What a clever innovation in accounting for our common wealth! And the world is still watching us!
They under-rate us, perhaps oblivious of the fact that to Nigerians, two native clichés are still relevant: the only language that the taxi driver understands is: “See passenger make you carry” and if a man wants to make love to a dumb and deaf woman, his best approach is to expose his hammer head to her. Why is the FG trying to run away from the needful? Rather than running from pillar to post, they should prove Sanusi wrong by flooding the entire place with the audited accounts of the NNPC.
That would not be all. Even granting that all the “missing sums” have been spent on the most laudable programmes in the world, where are they located in the 2013 appropriations? Herein lie the illegality and unconstitutionality that Sanusi is talking about and they cannot be ignored! No amount of bold-face or finger-pointing at the opposition can vitiate this!