By Omoh Gabriel
When President Umaru Yar’Adua (may his gentle soul rest in peace), nominated Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the CBN governor- designate to the Senate, the Editor of Vanguard Media Limited, Mideno Bayagbon, asked me to put together a profile on the CBN governor designate for publication. I did a quick search on him on the internet.
I was interested in Sanusi’s economic philosophy and thought that could guide his actions and utterances. An economist is either a monetarist, or a fiscalist.
While a monetarist believes in the use of interest rate and other monetary variables to target economic fundamentals, the fiscalist tends towards the use of taxes and tariffs to achieve the same purpose; all for the common good.
As much as I tried to place Sanusi on these platforms, I did not in my search, find any single paper written by him before becoming CBN governor that was not socio-political or an activist-based proclaiming the right of women under Sharia law or a response to a socio-political debate between the north and south.
The article I put together for the Editor was such that in his opinion, could not be published at the time so that it will not appear as if Vanguard was against the appointment of Sanusi as CBN governor. The editor was right because at Vanguard, editing is knowing what not to publish.
I am stating this in the light of the series of events that led to Sanusi’s suspension. Nigerians are either completely ignorant of trends or are simply disinterested in the affairs of the country that they reduce everything under the sun to sentiments and ethnic colouration.
The ongoing debate on Sanusi’s suspension has portrayed the CBN as a sovereign within a state. The real issues are being brushed aside and sentiments and opposition for the sake of it, have taken the center stage. Worst, are the civil society groups and the APC which utterances and positions are just one sided.
They are not looking at the law from an objective perspective. The Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council, Mr Jim Obazee met with journalists in Akodo, Lagos State in December on a two-day retreat.
At the retreat, he stated that the CBN has not complied with the directive of the council that its account should be rendered in the International Financial Reporting Standard format.
When probed, he simply said that the deadline given will expire by December 2013 and by January 2014, he will reel out names of agencies of government that have failed to comply. The global business community is embracing the International Financial Reporting Standard as a result of the need for full disclosures following lessons learnt from the global financial meltdown of 2008.
The CBN as the regulator of banks, has since compelled banks to comply, but its own accounts are not rendered in the same format. Nigerians have not bordered to ask why the CBN does not want full disclosure.
Nigerians have also not asked whether the Financial Reporting Council is an act of the National Assembly and if so, does it have the powers to do what it has done?
Sanusi has been the CBN Governor for almost five years, is he just discovering that the NNPC account is fraught with anomalies?
Under President Yar Adua, was he not aware that NNPC has been a pain in the neck of government? Why now? Was Sanusi blowing the so-called whistle knowing what he has done and that as his tenure draws to a close, questions will be asked?
I quite sympathize with Sanusi because when the chips are down, those who find in him a willing tool will be the first to abandon him. Is El-Rufai making altruistic visit to the suspended governor or for the benefit he has derived from associating with him? Who is doing the architectural drawings of the proposed CBN events center?
Nigerians may want to know who won the contract. The land proposed for the structure that originally belonged to NITEL and was sold by BPE for peanuts was bought by the CBN for a whopping N17 billion. Why and for what reason was the cost escalated from N1.7 billion to N17 billion?
The issues involved in Sanusi’s suspension have not the interest of the common Nigerian at heart as many are jumping on the rooftops and sounding populist in order to be branded “patriotic”.
The real patriots as I have found out are those who apply pressure where it matters most – and sometimes on some issues that might be in private for the general good. To any objective analyst, the facts of the matter are clear and are all now in the public domain.
Mid last year, about June 7 or so, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) wrote to the President. This was a damning attack on the integrity of the CBN where very strong financial words like “fraud” and “misrepresentation of facts” were used freely and also recommended that strong action be taken against the CBN Governor and all the Deputy Governors.
The Council’s 2012 financial report on the CBN to my mind, is an attack on the entire institution (CBN). What some Nigerians are not looking at is that the June 2013 letter was issued by FRC in response to CBN’s earlier response to its audit query. This means that there has been correspondences between the CBN and the Council.
Does it mean that the exchanges were taking place without the CBN Governor knowing? Was the CBN letter to Mr. President about three months after it was queried drawing attention to revenue shortfalls and NNPC’s failure to credit the Federation Account with all the monies that it was supposed to, an after-thought aimed at diverting government’s attention from the rot in the CBN? No Nigerian, including my good self, is holding brief for NNPC, I do know that Murtar Mansur when he was minister under Yar Adua said NNPC was a big problem to government.
The rot in NNPC has been on for a long while so if there is a shortfall, then there is a problem if the CBN that is banker to government is just realising this as a drain on public funds and a serious issue that should be looked into.
Nigerians who own businesses or run companies know for certain that the Financial Reporting Council has been giving them sleepless nights because they are forced to comply with its cumbersome reporting process.
The private sector companies have no choice but to comply. Why should government officials be exempted from complying with the same rule? Is Nigeria running two economies, one for the private sector and the other for government? Certainly not!
What Nigerians should be demanding is that all Ministries, Department and Agencies of government – federal, state and local – must publish their accounts with full disclosure. NNPC’s account used to be published when Gaius Obaseki was the Managing Director. Why did NNPC stop making public its account? The CBN must provide satisfactory answers to FRC’s queries and all other MDAs must be subjected to scrutiny. Period!