By Joef Omorotionmwan
THE witch hovered over the house and cried all night. In the morning, the baby died. We do not need to search too far for the killer of the baby.
The Federal Government keeps embarrassing people when it denies the obvious. It still maintains that Sanusi’s suspension has nothing to do with his penchant for blowing the whistle on the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
We invite the Financial Reporting Council, FRC, to the witness box. President Jonathan projected Sanusi’s suspension on the report of this body. The FRC indicted all the Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, along with their boss, Lamido Sanusi, and recommended that they should all be fired. Not only were they not sacked, one of them has just been elevated to the position of Acting Governor.
A better case for the Federal Government would have been that absolute loyalty is important in the public service. You cannot be serving in a government and be fighting it. You should step aside and fight from the outside. Here, Sanusi is guilty as charged.
In most cases, the whistle blower enjoys the admiration of the populace. This provides the apparent phoney support that Sanusi is enjoying from Nigerians today. The assumption is that he is being witch-hunted for blowing the whistle on the rots in society. This is where the House of Representatives comes in. Left to their individual convictions, they know where their votes would swing; but they must act in their representative capacity and that is what is playing out on the microphones.
All the same, they must know where to soft-pedal before Sanusi drags them into his deep shit (excuse my French). We pick offence whenever we are told that politics is a dirty game. Yet, no one wants to be openly tied to politics. Just see how the President and his PDP are busy warning the opposition party not to politicise the Sanusi affair. Meanwhile, the PDP spokesman, Chief Olisa Metu, jumps into the bandwagon to announce the PDP’s support for the President’s action! If this is not politicisation, we wonder what is.
Some have queried the timing of Sanusi’s suspension. Sanusi’s whistle has been quite loud for some time. Why has he not been suspended all along? Our conjecture is that, in a situation where everybody is guilty, no one is guilty. Corruption is now so pervasive that no individual can be singled out for discipline. In their inner minds, they are aware that the happenings in the NNPC and the CBN may just be a tip of the iceberg.
Rather than do the needful, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, may have shared the clearance of the various organisations among themselves. We saw a foreshadowing of this “Clear me, I clear you” system, the penultimate week, when the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who has two left hands in book-keeping, issued a clean bill of health on the NNPC; when an auditor, qualified or unqualified, should have been the one doing the job.
In all this, where is the Petroleum Minister? If she can be faceless in her livingroom, the simple implication is that we probably do not need any Ministry and Minister for Petroleum. Otherwise, where does she come in, in this age of accountability?
Back to Sanusi. In local parlance, many might be willing to set the murderer free but after seeing the corpses of his victims lying on the ground, they would hurriedly invite the hangman to come and execute him. After taking a bird’s eye view of some of the atrocities of the CBN under Sanusi’s watch, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that, if the prison is truly a home for offenders, then, the only place for Sanusi is also the prison.
In an investigation carried out in April 2013, the FRC allegedly discovered that N38.23 billion was missing. This amount was said to have been paid to MINT, a subsidiary of the CBN, but at the MINT end, no such money was received.
Under his Father Christmas posturing, Sanusi is said to have doled out an aggregate of N163 billion in about 63 “intervention projects” throughout the country at different times, without any legislative approval and authorisation. Clearly, this is more than the annual budgetary outlays of most of the states in the federation.
In 2011, the CBN was said to have paid N38 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, for the printing of banknotes. In a twist of fate, it has since been discovered that the total turnover for the NSPMC was only N29 billion for the entire year. Where did the CBN payment go?
In the same year, 2011, the CBN claims it paid N511 million, N425 million and N1 billion to Emirate, Wing and Associated Airlines respectively, for currency distribution nationwide. While the Emirate Airline has no local charter service, the Wing Airline is not even registered in Nigeria and the Associated Airline had a total turnover of less than N1 billion in that year.
Other mind-boggling expenditure items in 2011 included sundries N1.1 billion and legal and professional fees N20 billion! In 2012, CBN claims spending N1.2 billion on “private guards and lunch for policemen”; N1.6 billion on newspapers, books and periodicals; and N3 billion on “promotional activities”.
It is instructive that these sordid revelations emanated from the audited accounts of the CBN, which means that audits have their intrinsic values. Meanwhile, the NNPC accounts have not been audited in the past five years or more. If Sanusi has been suspended on the basis of irregularities in CBN’s audited accounts, then NNPC authorities should be suspended five times over, even before you open their books.
In calling attention to the rot in the NNPC, and by extrapolation, all departments of government, Sanusi has played his role. We should not now be talking of just the missing sums pronounced by him. Nothing short of a total overhaul of our system will do!