11 January 2014

Nigeria: Ezekwesili Cautions Against Forceful Removal of Sanusi As CBN Governor

The forceful resignation of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Lamido Sanusi, is not an effective response to the nation's challenges, Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former Vice President, World Bank Africa Division, has said.

Reacting on Twitter to claims that the president has proposed to remove Mr. Sanusi as Central bank Governor, Ms. Ezekwesili said she hoped the report was untrue. President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly asked the Central Bank Governor, to resign immediately on the grounds that Mr. Sanusi leaked the letter he wrote to the President on the unremitted $49.8 billion (N7.94 trillion) oil revenue, to former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr. Sanusi could also be suspended, and then barred from accessing his office once the announcement is made, sources had told PREMIUM TIMES. One of the deputy governors within the bank could then act as governor until a substantive one is appointed.

"Can this news possibly be true? I hope not. Such cannot be an effective response to our deep challenges. No," she tweeted on Thursday. "The greatest obstacle to our nation building is intractable economic misgovernance. The epitome of it is oil revenue mismanagement."

Ms. Ezekwesili said it would actually earn the Federal Government great laurels if it turned the Central Bank and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, squabble into an opportunity. She challenged the government to decisively confront oil revenue mismanagement.

She added that rather than the forceful resignation of a Central Bank governor, who had barely six months left in office, because of concerns he raised over oil revenues, the Federal Government should resolve the issues raised.

"It is more worthwhile for the Federal Government to work at building the confidence of citizens in institutions like the NNPC, Ministry of Finance and Central Bank. That we seem comfortable with the fact that "missing" or "still to be reconciled" figure of oil revenue is only $10 billion (N1.59 trillion) is very disturbing," she said.

Ms. Ezekwesili, who was a former Minister of Solid Minerals, said she raised similar concerns about oil revenue mismanagement and accountability in her University of Nigeria, Nsukka speech in January, 2013.

"I continue to wait for the Federal Government to accept my request for a public debate on oil revenue earnings and management during this 5th oil boom. Beyond the 5th oil boom, we should use the occasion of such public debate to track the lessons of the wasted 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th oil booms," she said. "Let's free Nigeria by digging into the truth of all five oil booms. Citizens who speak ignorantly, do so only because they do not know that mismanagement of oil revenue leads to rotten politics and to deep poverty!"

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