Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has identified vested interest as one of the factors that has stymied the growth of Nigeria. He made the assertion at a lecture titled, "Overcoming the fears of vested interests", organised by TEDx Youth Platform, last August, 2013 when he addressed youths in Abuja. In the lecture, which was only made public at the weekend, by an online news medium, Premium Times, Sanusi said it was the unwillingness of the "small minority" to decisively tackle the problems of the country, because of their own vested interests that have caused the nation not to realise its potential.
He cited two examples: the banking industry and the oil sector. According to him, the rot that characterised the banking operations in the country until 2009, was because of the protection of vested interests by those in control of the banks. He noted that the banking reforms he championed in 2009 would have suffered a great setback if he had pandered to the fears of vested interests. According to him, "We were dealing with chief executives that in 2009 had become invincible. They were in the seat of power. They had economic power and they had bought political protection. They were into political parties, they had financed elections of officers and they believed that nobody could touch them. ï€ "And every time I said it was time for us to take action, people said to me you can't touch these people, you'll be sacked. Or you can't touch these people they will kill you. Or you can't touch these people, you can't do that. ï€ "And I said you know what? We are going to take them on".
He explained that his courage in pursuing the reforms brought sanity to the industry, just as he helped to rescue the banks, which were at the point of failing at the time. Also referring to the sleaze in the oil sector, Sanusi said the petroleum subsidy figures jumped from paid N291 billion in 2009 to N2.7 trillion in 2011, adding: "Did we start consuming 10 times as much petrol? Do we have 10 times as many cars? Did the population of Nigeria multiply 10 times?" He regretted that even after investigations had shown that certain petroleum product importers were merely submitting payment papers without actually importing any product, nobody had been jailed because of the presence of vested interests. There are people in this country that produced pieces of paper and brought to Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulations Agency (PPPRA) and somebody stamped those pieces of paper and said they brought in petroleum products and actually paid them subsidy. And those pieces of paper said I brought 30,000 metric tonnes on so so ship, and we discovered that the said ship was nowhere near the coast of Nigeria on that date.
ï€ "We have seen vessels that did not even exist - that had been retired - on bills of lading and money has been paid. And you know what? None of them as I speak to you has gone to jail. "This is the only country in the world where you have something called oil theft. Where vessels can simply come and take crude oil and literally just drive out of the country. You see the numbers every day 100,000, 200,000, 400,000 barrels a day, nobody even knows. "How does anybody take oil in a vessel and leave the country? We have got the navy, we've got Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), we have got security services, you've got the oil companies themselves," he added.. Sanusi said the nation had failed to develop because of the protection and propagation of the vested interests of the ruling elite. "And every day we complain about the lack of development.
We don't have development because vested interests continue to rape this country and continue to take the money out," he added. According to him, Nigeria can only begin to experience growth if it stops preaching and lamenting and starts seeking ways of overcoming the fear of vested interests and even confronting those pushing such values.