By Josef Omorotionmwan
WE have already embarked on a gradual descent to anomie. Some day soon, when we arrive at destination, we shall have no difficulty in recognising it. The early signs are very clear: we now have a country where evil is constantly celebrated and where people get away with murder in the manner of providing comic relief. We just laugh and get entertained.
But it hurts for the columnist to stay awake all night, only for what he produces to be reduced to the basic entertainment levels that are not any different from the Lagos Life series of yester years. Elsewhere, journalists are the mirror through which society is viewed and their products are taken seriously as pointers to the rots in society.
In native parlance, we must now borrow leg and quickly run away from the Sanusi saga, lest monotony sets in to catch us at the middle of it all. The Sanusi episode is one area where we have written close to half a dozen articles and it is not in our character to keep flogging a dead horse, particularly against the backdrop that our main target audience may have sufficiently stuck his ears with cotton wool to ensure he is not listening to our trash.
Even where we expect no answers, there are still some salient questions that must be asked on this monotonous Sanusi affair, if only as a peep into the future.
Certainly, Sanusi is the man of the hour in this our entertainment stage. Some questions must be asked before attention shifts from him. First, it takes two to tango and it is becoming increasingly clear that in the Sanusi episode, somebody must have been sleeping on duty.
Rome, they say, was not built in one day but the building of Rome started in one day. Sanusi’s misdeeds did not occur in one day. They built up over time. If from the sidelines, we were able to see that much of Sanusi’s misdemeanors, those at the centre stage must have seen much more. The questions are: Who were Sanusi’s supervisors? Where were they when the world was crumbling on all of us? Somebody somewhere must have been sleeping on duty. These are some of the issues we shall examine here, without intending to defend Sanusi. It is even foolhardy to do so.
At the risk of repetition, we cannot undertake the current exercise without a glimpse into some of the charges against Sanusi: Mr. Governor, Sir, in about 63 “intervention projects” mainly in your native Northern Nigeria, and sparsely in the South, you turned the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, into a Father Christmas of sorts. Under this scheme, you doled out about N163 billion from the public till without any legislative approval and authorisation, in utter defiance of the provisions of Sections 80(1) and 80(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which deal with issues of revenue and expenditure of the Federation.
In August 2009, the CBN, under your watch, pumped N400 billion of public money into bailing out Afribank, Intercontinental Bank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank. Again, the CBN single-handedly decided which of the commercial banks manifested distress signs and how much to give to them — without recourse to any legislative approval.
In the eye of the Financial Reporting Council, FRC, the CBN under your watch embarked on a most reckless spending spree, the type of squander mania never imagined in the history of the CBN, which included N38.23 billion alleged missing in 2013. This amount was alleged to have been paid to the CBN subsidiary, MINT, but which never got to its destination. In 2011, CBN was said to have paid N38 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, for the printing of banknotes when in the entire year the total turnover of NSPMC was only N29 billion!
In same year, 2011, CBN claims paying N511 million, N425 million and N1 billion to Emirate, Wing and Associated Airlines respectively, for currency distribution nationwide. While Emirate has no local charter service, Wing Airline is not even registered in Nigeria and Associated Airline had a total turnover of less than N1 billion in that year! The list of rots in the CBN, which cannot be contained here, is an arm long. Yet, in the process, Sanusi had an avalanche of supervisors. If Sanusi is guilty as charged, his supervisors are ten times guilty.
Enter President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan: Mr. President, Sir, you cannot feign total ignorance of the goings-on at the CBN under Sanusi’s watch. Lest you forget, from our distance, we reminded Nigerians at various points that Sanusi was operating a Republic within a Republic. To mention but a few instances, our articles: “Still Celebrating Profligacy” and “Who Is Now the President?” in this column as far back as 2011 and 2013 were exclusively devoted to the Sanusi escapade. But it was convenient for you to remain mute because Sanusi was apparently reporting well. All the same, everyone has his day in court. It was when Sanusi touched on the sore-point, the very nerve-centre of the anticipated campaign funding source, NNPC, that you suddenly woke up from slumber!
And now, the National Assembly and its bogus Committees: Distinguished and Honourables, you cannot escape culpability in the Sanusi affair. You looked the other way while Nigeria burnt. You pretended to be tough on him during the 2013 appropriations. He bluffed you and apparently bought his way through.
That was when you descended heavily on the equity market, thus leaving its opposite number, the CBN, to operate freely, albeit dubiously. Ms Arunma Oteh, the Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, refused to play ball, hence you descended on her by denying her organisation of the needed funds since the 2013 appropriations. CBN required no discipline. After all, your man there was a mid-fielder.
Can we now see the mess into which balling has pushed us? And why is anyone still talking of Sanusi’s culpability to the exclusion of all the super accomplices?