Friday, 27 June 2014

Sanusi Lamido: A whistle blower or a rabble rouser?


                           CBN Govrnor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
One is in dilemma on how to describe the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi considering his controversial position on national issues and the release of inaccurate figures of the missing funds in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). To some Nigerians, he is a whistle blower and an anti-graft crusader who is trying to curb corruption but to other Nigerians, he is a rabble rouser who wants cheap popularity. To the latter, Sanusi cannot be called a whistle blower for the simple fact that he is not consistent with his claims. To this group of Nigerians, a whistle blower must be convinced of what he is blowing the whistle about.
This is because according to this school of thought, accusing an individual or organization falsely can land the whistle blower into a mountainous problem from which they may find it intractable to extricate themselves. But who is a whistle blower? A whistle blower according to Wikipedia “Is a person who expresses misconduct, alleged dishonesty or illegal activity occurring in an organization”. Such misconduct may be a violation of a law, rule, regulation, fraud, health, safety violations and corruption. On the hand, a rabble rouser also according to Wikipedia is “A person who makes a group of people angry, excited or violent such as by giving speeches especially in order to achieve a political or social goal”.
The first factor that qualifies Sanusi as a rabble rouser is that he makes inconsistent financial statements that usually excite Nigerians. Sanusi, in 2012 had told Nigerians that $49.8 billion from the sale of 594.024 million barrels covering the period of January 2012 to July 2013 was missing from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). But the Ministry of Finance and the NNPC claimed the unreconciled amount stands at $10.8 billion. The NNPC said the outstanding $10.8 billion was paid out as subsidy on kerosene and petrol, and the balance was used for pipeline maintenance. Sanusi later admitted his fallacy but shocked Nigerians once again that another $20 billion was missing from the NNPC! Now, which of these inconsistent and controvertible figures does Sanusi want Nigerians to believe? As the Central Bank Governor and Chief Economist of the country, one would have expected him to have verified his figures before accusing the NNPC of any wrong doing.  Again, he ought not to have released the figures to the public because he held meetings regularly with the officials of the NNPC and the Minister of Finance and such discrepancies could have been discussed during such meetings!
Another factor that qualifies Sanusi as a rabble rouser is that he is loquacious. Rabble rousers talk so much in order to impress and attract public sympathy. But a central bank governor should never be garrulous so that whenever he talks his employer and the masses will take him seriously; this is not the case with Sanusi! How many Nigerians still take Sanusi seriously? Sanusi was never bothered about how to fix the economy and perform the core functions of the Central Bank, one of which is foreign exchange management; the acquisition and distribution of foreign exchange resources, to ensure foreign currencies are used in consonance with economic priorities so as to guarantee the stability of the naira. This, Sanusi was unable to achieve as the exchange rate rose from N133 to a dollar at the time he assumed office and hovered between N150 and N170 to a dollar at the time he was suspended.
The central bank governors of other climes hardly talked as they are usually engaged in economic engrossment to proffer solutions to their nations’ economic and financial problems; thus they do not dabble into political issues as Sanusi. How many times have we heard the central bank governors of America and Britain spoke on political issues? Sanusi demonstrated his garrulousness in January 2012, when in an interview with Financial Times, said, “There is clearly a direct link between the very uneven nature of distribution of resources and the rising level of violence. When you look at the figures and look at the size of population in the north, you can see that there is a structural imbalance of enormous proportions. Those states simply do not have enough money to meet basic needs while some have too much. The imbalance is so stark because the state still depends on oil for more than 80 per cent of its revenues”.  
The above quote clearly shows that Sanusi may not be a conventional economist after all because as a literati, he knows that laziness and parasitism are not to be tolerated. If Nigeria was operating a true fiscal federalism where the federating units control their resources and pay taxes to the central government as obtained in other federations, will the north wait for the south to derive money for its sustenance? When the north was receiving 50 per cent derivation from groundnuts and cotton, did the north say it was too much and that it should be reduced? Did the south make the country ungovernable for Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa simply because it was not getting 50 per cent derivation at that time? Does Sanusi not know that Niger State has the capacity to produce enough rice that can feed all the countries in West Africa? Again, where are the groundnuts pyramids and the cotton house Sanusi in one of his outburst said, “President Jonathan cannot sack me”! Even if President Jonathan has no unilateral power to sack Sanusi, was it morally right for him to have boasted about it publicly? Also, Sanusi does not draw a line between official work and his tradition. Breaking all known official norms, he once went to office in his full traditional Dan Majen Kano regalia and scared his colleagues! 
In December, 2010, at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, Sanusi said, “If you look at the budget, the bulk of government revenue expenditure is on overhead, that is a big problem, 25% of overhead of the Federal Government goes to the national assembly. We need power, we need infrastructure so we need to start looking at the structure of expenditure and make it more consistent with development initiative of the country”. Sanusi was applauded and eulogized for pointing out the percentage sum the national assembly gulps from the nation’s annual budgets but did not tell Nigerians how much percentage he consumes from the annual budgets! When Barrister Bamidele Aturu demanded to kwon Sanusi’s total allowances and emoluments, Sanusi responded through the CBN Legal Adviser/ Director Legal Services Department, S.M. Onekutu, said Sanusi receives N25,000 per day as travel allowance within the country. But Onekutu did not mention his remuneration as he said, “The Governor’s remuneration is as stipulated by the Board and approved by Mr. President in accordance with section 8(3) of the CBN Act. Onekutu also disclosed that the governor travels Business Class outside Nigeria and added that Mr. Sanusi had occasionally used chartered planes to travel within and outside the country as dictated by exigencies. Why did Onekutu not tell Nigerians Sanusi’s remuneration and travel allowance outside the country? In which other country does a central bank governor earns such travel allowance and uses chartered planes? The PDP through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, has demanded the Forensic Audit of CBN Accounts from 2009 Till Date. He queried how the CBN under Sanusi spent N20.202 billion on “Legal and Professional Fees” in 2011, as well as the N1.257 billion spent on “Private Guards” and “Lunch for Policemen” in 2012. PDP also said the sum of N73 billion was spent to renovate the official residence of the CBN governor. Sanusi should prove these allegations as he wants the NNPC to account for the $20 billion. Sanusi is quick to point out the shortcomings of others but will always exonerate himself from the bad leadership that has befallen the country.
During the fuel subsidy brouhaha, Sanusi said the country would go bankrupt if subsidy was not removed. In one of the town hall meetings, Sanusi was asked whether he usually paid for fuel, accommodation, transportation, etc, he answered in the negative. But as the Governor of the Central Bank and Chief Economist of the country, he supposed to advise the Federal Government to build more refineries and not removal of subsidy!
From the aforementioned, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is the first and only Central Bank Governor in Nigeria that is loquacious. He is also the only CBN Governor that has dabbled into political issues instead of concentrating on the core functions of the Central Bank. A central bank governor should be laconic in order to attract the confidence of the masses. Thus, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi cannot be called a whistle blower but a rabble rouser!  

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