Daily Trust (Abuja)

23 February 2014

Nigeria: Sanusi's Bad Table Manners

Civilised cultures teach us never to speak with your mouth full. The office of governor of the Central Bank is a position to come and chop. Everyone comes to it with an attitude. You can't blame them. Ours is an oil-rich but badly mismanaged treasury. The occupant of the office of CBN governor is excused when they appear in public with oiled cheeks.

Of late, occupants of that office have come with their unique styles. Soludo had his zany suits and Sanusi his sartorial elegance and bad mouth. There are those who swear that a nation's central bank governor should be rarely seen and hardly heard. They believe that a misinterpreted body language could trigger an economic tsunami with reverberating aftershocks.

From his lanky gait, Sanusi does not appear to eat that much, but he is not afraid of talking with his mouth full. At his sinnate screening, Sanusi shocked the polity when he dissociated himself from the 7-Point Agenda of the government that appointed him. Teachers of etiquette would argue that it is bad table manners, but it did not stop his confirmation.

In his first interview with the Trust newspapers, Sanusi publicly announced his ambition to become the Emir of Kano. Even as the grandchild of a deposed Emir, it is considered inordinate ambition, especially with the incumbent hale and hearty. On the royal dinning table, that is bad table manners.

If you are a Kano prince, wearing French suits or colonial bow ties is also considered bad table manners. But all these did not stop Emir Ado Bayero from officially adopting Sanusi as a son by turbaninig him Danmajen Kano. Sanusi took his ambition a notch further by turbaning his own wife as Giwan Danmaje, or the elephant behind the prince. The next working day after his turbaning, Sanusi came to the office in his full traditional regalia, earning the moniker -Emir of CBN.

Sanusi's official tenure was characterized by bad table manners. His statements, his body language and his dress-sense epitomized bad table manners. One moment he is a populist, and the next, he is a conformist. One thing he's known for is that wherever he stood for, he never bent. With thousands of Naija hoi-polloi on the streets against the removal of petroleum subsidy, Sanusi took the side of the government stridently supporting the removal of all forms of fuel subsidization. He argued that the subsidy only goes to the pockets of the rich and was therefore wasteful. Organised labour disagreed with him meaning his position is bad table manners. They even posited that the sights and sounds of petrodollars were preventing the CBN governor from using his cents.

It took the first landing of Boko Haram's signature cluster bombs outside Haramistan to show that the CBN governor, like selected governors, have a large patronage budget. When the bombs landed in Abuja, nothing was heard, then Madalla, but when it landed in Kano the CBN activated its welfare purse. It gave N100 million to Kano and a paltry N25 million to Madalla victims. Then there was a N4 billion donations to BUK on paper though the school claimed it got only one billion. With these home donations, etymologists discovered that charity is not a Kano indigene. Too many lopsided donations in an ethnically biased country is bad table manners.

Then there was a N1 billion donation to a political party ostensibly not the fee-dee-fee. This was enough to elicit a query, especially if rather than eat your own, you busy yourself commenting on other people's bigger ration. On May 6, 2012 (yes, 2012) Sanusi received a meddlesome interloper query. He did not answer until May 21, 2012. He did not stop heckling gluttons. Curiously too, his 2012 query did not make media headlines.

But his letter alerting President Jones of a missing N50 billion from government cash cow, the NNPC was wrongly delivered to editors instead of Hassle Rock. It would appear that the advanced copy was sent to Ota Farm because NIPOST in its sloppiness believed Baba was still in power. That caused the old man to write a strongly worded letter to President Jones, which again was NIPOST delivered to the media.

Now, table manners dictate that no allegation of NNPC financial impropriety should leak to the media. The NNPC is free to use its earnings as it deems fit. Any attempt to checkmate the NNPC is an unpardonable breach of table manners. But even flabbier is insisting that the allegations are true after the figures have been denied and disproved.

For this, last Thursday while Sanusi was in Niger, he was given the Gowon treatment. Lesson for all - whenever you are called to come and chop - never speak with your mouth full. That, my friends is considered bad table manners.

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