Who Will Tame Sanusi?

Who will tame Sanusi? I’m not raising an unnecessary alarm, I ask because I’m worried, and we should be worried too.  Who can call this irrepressible Fulani nobleman to order? Who can tame this unguided missile that even strides with swagger where angels dare not, and says indignities and incongruities unbecoming of his position without batting an eyelid?

The Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s utterances have become dangerous threat to our polity and our existence as a nation that we need to worry. Since he became the 10th governor of Central Bank in June 3, 2009, Sanusi has left no one in doubt that he has a basket mouth; he has caught the image of a marabout, a religious zealot and an ethnic irredentist. He pours venoms on our collective psyche and gets away with it. He sometimes questions the very basis of our existence, veering away from his mandate to manage the economy and sailing slipshod on uncharted waters without drowning. Often times, he is uncouth in his language and lacks the decorum when uttering his meaningless verbiage.

Just some few days ago Sanusi was like a loose cannon loaded to the hilt again. In his characteristic haughty and arrogant manner, Sanusi stirred the hornet’s nest when he called on the Federal Government to ban religious and regional groupings like Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere, etc. as a means of reducing ethnic and religious tensions in the polity. He did not stop there. He called equally for the scrapping of the local government as a third tier of administration; whether or not he understood its constitutional implication in a democracy, I cannot say. What Sanusi does not understand is that these religious and ethnic socio-cultural and political groupings are the basis for our stability. At a time the country is tilting off the hook and veering to the cliff edge of doom, these groupings come together to stabilize it as if to flesh out the national motto of Jamaica: out of many, one people.

His ideas on ways to revive the economy are usually bizarre and out of sync with conventional economic wisdom. Last year at a seminar in Warri, Sanusi made a similar inflammatory comment when he called on President Jonathan and the state governors to sack 50 percent of civil servants as a way to revamp the ailing economy. His reason for such unorthodox and sacrilegious method was that the federal and state governments spend 70 percent of their budgets on salaries and emoluments. Instead of using his lofty position to inveigh against the activities of Boko Haram in his northern enclave, this scholar of Sharia and Islamic Studies from the International University of Africa, Khartoum in Sudan has tacitly refrained from criticizing this fundamentalist group that has made the country ungovernable and instead elected to stir up storms in tea cups.

Agreed, Sanusi may have many things going for him. Some of his admirers see him as an avant-garde, a Nigerian patriot who is determined to cleanse the Augean stable in the financial subsector. His grandfather, Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi was the emir of Kano. But his pedigree has nothing to do with his performance in his current assignment. If I am to rate Sanusi I will tell you he has not lived up to the billing, he is a failure as far as monetary policies of the country are concerned. Rather than being concerned on ways to halt the daily downward slide of the naira, what he does as red herring is to make incendiary and provocative comments to unnecessarily heat up the polity to prevent us from correctly assessing him.

He strikes me as a man that is confused and bereft of any ideas on what to do to spruce up and revive the economy. For instance, some two years ago Sanusi came up with the idea to turn the country into a cashless economy as is the vogue in advanced economies. It was a fine policy, we bayed for it as it would reduce the amount of cash in circulation and bring some level of transparency in our business and administrative dealings, but since that policy was mooted in 2011 till now, nothing has been heard about it again.

Rather what we heard next was that the central bank governor was already printing N5000 denomination, a move that was completely and totally the opposite; thank God it was vehemently rejected because of its implications to the economy.

I admire Sanusi for his courage, his encounter with the National Assembly two years ago over his comments on how the nation wastes 25 percent of its budget on the legislators cast him as a frank and courageous technocrat. But he should tame his mouth and do more for the economy.


Nigeria’s Mali Mission

Some days ago the Federal Government dispatched some 906 Nigerian soldiers to the war-weary West African state of Mali as part of the UN force to flush the rebels that have almost over-ran the country. To justify Nigeria’s participation in that deadly enterprise, President Jonathan explained that if Nigeria does not participate and the insurgents succeed in overthrowing the government, it will give dangerous signal to our own Boko Haram to do likewise. In as much as there is some logic in the president’s argument, I feel that the country shouldn’t have been involved in the exercise given our peculiar problems. We have more than enough worries to contend with. Our internal problems far outweigh whatever problem that is in Mali.  The Boko Haram has made the country unsafe, which is enough to occupy the attention of government.  My fear is that our country’s participation may have some whiplash. I fear that the rebels may enter the country through our porous borders and escalate the tension in the country. Already, since Nigeria’s arrival to Mali some three weeks ago there is an escalation of violence in the North which makes one suspect the obvious. The Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero on January 19 lost four of his palace guards to attacks linked to Boko Haram and escaped by a hair’s breath. Two Nigerian soldiers who were to participate in the Mali mission were ambushed and slaughtered in a gruesome manner. As if that was not enough, last week not less than five innocent Nigerians were beheaded in Maiduguri.

As a student in the 80s, I was taught that Africa was the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy. But I think foreign policy impetus should be dynamic. The government should reconsider our participation in Mali, it is time to fine-tune our foreign policy thrust and make Nigeria the centerpiece of every government engagement.

Ohaneze Ndigbo:  A Storm in a Teacup

The Igbo apex socio-cultural and political organization—Ohaneze Ndigbo—on January 12 conducted an election that is proving to be a chink in the armour. In that exercise, an Ebonyian, Chief Gary Igariwey emerged its president worldwide. It is good news for us in Ebonyi, another feather to our cap. But what disturbs me is that the furore this victory has generated is too cold for comfort. When I’m supposed to clink glasses for a deserved victory, I’m sad that the sweet flavor of victory has been buried in the stench of high wire politics. Why should two brothers fight themselves dirty? The fact that the leadership of the socio-cultural and political group is coming back to base after over 60 years a foremost Ebonyian– Ezeogo Akanu Ibiam– initiated it and became its founding president should be enough cheer for us. But it is otherwise. There should be no reason for rancor, please.

However, the leadership of the body is coming to Ebonyi at a time there is genuine political ferment and groundswell of clamour for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction to emerge in 2015. It is our wish that this materializes in Gary’s tenure. But how is Gary going to meander through this maze of political labyrinth that is already building up?  He should be, like the Holy Book says, wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

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