Greek philosophers say that “those whom the gods want to destroy they first make mad”. No one fits into this mold better than Sanusi, the irrepressible and cantankerous former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. The gods made him mad in order to destroy him.
For five years Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the prince of the Caliphate, bestrode Nigeria’s financial empire like a colossus. He ensconced tightly on his swivel chair like The Lord of the Manor, dictating the trajectory and direction of the economy by his financial policies until Jonathan struck like thunder.
For the period he held sway at Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi was more in the news than on the job. He made more enemies than friends, often speaking with both sides of the mouth as he joggled figures that often times jars. He was in the news, but often for the wrong reason. He was intoxicated with power as he reeled out contradictory policies one after another. At a time many of us began to ask whether the autonomy granted the apex bank by the constitution was sacrosanct and inviolate. But Jonathan answered that: it was not!
The problem of Sanusi was arrogance. He allowed the autonomy of the CBN to go into his head. That perhaps explains why he could not be bound by the Public Procurement Act as he undertook to execute jobs worth billions of naira without due process. According to the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, “It is however regrettable that the Central Bank of Nigeria under his leadership has refused and/or neglected to comply with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act(PPA)”.
He spoke with force and verve and did not know where his power as CBN governor started and where it ended. His recalcitrance and fearlessness made us to erroneously believe that after Mr President he was the next in command. But he was not, his sack has demonstrated more than words that he was not a sacred cow after all.
But do I have any tears for Sanusi? None! He got what he deserved. And his sack came at the appropriate time which was almost to the end of his tenure in order to shame him. If there is any thing I admire Jonathan, it is his capacity for tolerance. In my assessment, Sanusi’s sack was long overdue, but Mr President gave him a long rope in order to redeem him. But for over five years the CBN governor presided over our financial empire, he proved stubborn and irredeemable.
Many commentators have questioned the rightness of government’s action to sack Sanusi, often hinging their argument on the legality of the exercise. But whatever views they may espouse, I support Mr President’s action to relieve him of his position. It was good riddance to bad rubbish. Sanusi, by his position, was a top member of the government. But his actions, utterances and body language were opposed to government policies.
One of the reasons government gave for his sack was financial recklessness. As CBN governor whose duty was to oversee the macro economic policies of the economy in order to bring inflation rate to a manageable level, Sanusi rather did the opposite. He doled out millions of naira with careless abandon to victims of the Boko Haram in the North. I do not begrudge his generosity, but I would have been much comfortable and would therefore have commended him for his large heart if the money he gave had not been from our commonwealth.
But that’s not all. While in government, Sanusi caught the image of a marabout and an irredentist. Much of what he did was to favour his ethnic North, and he had no apologies for that. In my previous article on Sanusi, I had drawn the attention of government to the detrimental effect Sanusi’s policies had on the economy and the people, and advocated for his sack.
For instance, the CBN under Sanusi was without direction and focus. It said one thing but did another which was completely contradictory. Take the cashless policy as an example. When the CBN came up to make the nation embrace electronic payment system in line with what obtains elsewhere, Nigerians jumped at it. But the implementation has been slipshod, inchoate and without direction. Since over two years ago it came up with this policy, not much has happened. And to compound it all, while Nigerians were adjusting to the new policy, Sanusi came up again with the idea to print N5000 note denominations with its attendant inflationary effect. This was clearly contradictory and a sign that the man had lost focus.
Besides, the CBN governor’s utterances showed him off as an activist, a man at war with the institution and government he serves. For instance, his revelation that the National Assembly alone gulps 25 percent of the nation’s budget was like an arrow driven deep into the marrow of the legislators.
But if there was anything that showed him off as a trouble shooter, thoughtless and irreconcilable fellow, it was his recent altercation with government over the purported missing $49.8 billion from the federation account. His inability to come up with the exact figure, somersaulting and reversing the amount from $49.8 billion to $10 billion and then $22 billion, revealed him as inconsistent and a mischief maker whose intention was to bring Jonathan’s government down.
However, there is nothing wrong with appointing an opposition figure to serve in government, because we need them more than our friends to draw us away from the path of perdition; and Sanusi was clearly one. But he went about it with an islamist fervour that was injurious to national stability. I have no tears for him. His sack was good riddance to bad rubbish.
But that is not to say that his tenure lacked some positive sparks. The injection of over N670 billion to bail out some distressed banks and the sack of more than five corrupt bank executives helped to restore some sanity in the financial sector. Besides, he followed this up by setting up the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria to buy over the toxic assets of the distressed banks which helped in no small measure to ensure that no bank depositor lost his deposits again.
However, I admire Sanusi for his courage and fearlessness. He had said it for the umpteenth that he was not looking for a job, and was not therefore afraid of being sacked. But the revelations and facts that have been unearthed following his sack makes me think he was a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. I have no tears for him, not even a drop.