5 March 2014

Nigeria: Sanusi - Blues for a Blue-Blooded Radical

Photo: Leadership
Lamido Sanusi.


The suspension and replacement of Lamido Sanusi, the radical head of the Central Bank of Nigeria who has become a whistle-blower exposing the billions that have gone missing at the central bank, is symptomatic of an amoral and corrupt Nigerian oligarchy

What some Nigerians prefer to call Sanusigate signposts how naïve, power drunken and desperate that Nigeria's presidency has become. But for the combination of these factors, Lamido Sanusi, who has been suspended (?) and replaced as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, should by now be clearing his table preparatory to proceeding on terminal leave.

All that is now in jeopardy! The message here is simple: when dealing with desperate compatriots, the worst mistake anyone can make is to take their eyes off their shoulders. Better watch it because 2015 is here. Else you get snapped by Draculian fangs!

The fangs just snapped Sanusi. By now, it must have dawned on him that he made the mistake of his life when he accepted to serve under the man who succeeded the man who appointed him as CBN governor.

And the reason for this is simple: while late Mallam Umaru Musa Yar'adua, despite his failings, knew the course he wanted to chart for Nigeria, the same cannot be said for his successor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan! There is nothing uncharitable here; some die-hard fans of the president, including his main benefactor and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, have said as much.

A quick recap of recent events: Sanusi has lately said a lot about the rot at the Petroleum ministry and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to confirm the fear of many Nigerians that government's anti graft war was mere lip service! As an insider, Sanusi's jabs are coming dangerously home.

Has he fresh facts, as alleged, that certain percentage of oil money is traditionally attached to certain public offices? Are there allusions in his expose? Was he about to play okro mouth if allowed a day longer than necessary in office? Else, for a government that tolerated an irritant for so long, what informed the haste to get rid of Sanusi on the eve of his departure?


Let's get back to basics! By every stretch of imagination, the very idea of Sanusi working in a Jonathan presidency is a contradiction. Lamido Sanusi is an antithesis of 'ideal' CBN governors who are largely expected to be incurably colourless, excessively conservative and overly incapable of rocking boats.

It is instructive that those who applaud the sloppy handling of the Sanusi case do so on the hare-brained thesis that the CBN governor chose to be loquacious instead of being pretentious and fainthearted as public office holders come.

In fact, there are mad caps who reason that Sanusi, as CBN governor, should have out grown being a Bala-Brought-Up and discarded Marxist ideas he picked at FASS (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) of the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria. Some even insinuate that Lamido Sanusi was made CBN governor to allow him unfettered access to public funds to pursue his life ambition of becoming the next Emir (Amir) of Kano!


Those who knew Lamido Sanusi back in those days would show scant surprise at the man's ability to bring about change. Fewer still would be surprised at his being named as two-time Banker of the Year. With blue blood running in his veins, Lamido has always tilted, rather strangely, to the left.

A radical, yes! May be, even a non conformist! But you could never, in all sincerity, accuse him of recklessness. That is one horse owning prince who never rode a high horse! And the man loved taking risks.

As a mark of what he has come to be known for on the national and international stage, Lamido once risked his all, sometime in 1979 to liberate his long suffering colleagues in the hands of an over bearing lecturer in Economics at the ABU. His heroic act came with an alias to boot!

As Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi changed the face of banking in Nigeria. He dared the tiger by taking ground breaking steps to instil some level of sanity in a notorious sector. Cleaning any stable, not least the Aegean stables which Nigerian banking sector came to be known for is no task for the faint hearted.

Had Lamido been the chicken banker the presidency now wishes to depict him, it would have been business as usual and he would have ended his tenure like any other Central Bank governor. Lamido did not want to be another CBN governor! He is not just another CBN governor! Yet, we are constrained to judge him by standards set by a government in which he was a major functionary.

It is okay for the Jonathan presidency to accuse Lamido Sanusi of being reckless with public funds. There is scant surprise that Sanusi has been accused of either financial misappropriation or misapplication, or both.

Never mind that instances of financial recklessness Sanusi was charged with includes spending millions of Naira on educational intervention, providing succour for flood victims and providing relief for bomb blast victims.

Sanusi may delude himself that these interventions are part of CBN's corporate social responsibilities. They are not! He should spare himself the explanation that award of CBN contracts followed due process. Who cares! And, by the way, who cares whether Lamido cornered CBN contracts for himself and cronies?


Frankly, Lamido's honesty, some say naivety, was his main undoing. In his anti-graft campaign from within, he knew he had the people on his side and naively believed he had his boss too on his side.

Sanusi should have known that his boss who has shown a crass incapability to deal with allegations of corruption cases involving close aides would not be disposed to have a whistle blower hanging around him, especially in a sensitive place like the Central Bank. Yet, Sanusi held on to his whistle; he refused to eat and has been trying to stop others from eating!

Had he pocketed his Marxist ideas, pocketed his share of oil revenue and pocketed just fifty per cent of the billions of Naira he 'recklessly' spent on educational and other interventions, Sanusi's name would have topped the next national award roll. Rather, he chose to be an unusual radical who blows whistles when he should be stealing! What business has a prince with whistles? Hasn't Sanusi heard of the unwritten civil service rule that bars public servants from owning, not to talk of blowing, whistles?

See what Sanusi has done to himself by refusing to play ball! There is a silver lining here, though; henceforth, Nigerians have ideological turncoat turned presidential spokesmen to rely on to know what constitutes financial recklessness! Pray! Shouldn't the government consider bundling the 'bungling' unusual radical before a judge rather than waste precious time to rationalise why it dealt with an irritant?

If this latest abuse of presidential powers and political naivety are allowed to stand, Nigerians of goodwill should change their opinion of President Jonathan and cast their ballot for him next year! Note the key words: if this latest abuse of presidential powers and political naivety are allowed to stand! It really doesn't matter whether the president runs... or, runs out!

Abdulrazaq Magaji is based in Abuja


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