By Oseghale Erahodu
The suspension of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the office of CBN Governor was long overdue, so the announcement was an eventuality that relieved the general public of anxiety over unfulfilled expectation.
Only the painstaking patience and calculating calmness of President Goodluck Jonathan could have contained for so long the charade of contempt, intrigue and sabotage that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi brazenly used the office of CBN Governor to unleash against the credibility and stability of the Presidency of Nigeria.
The treachery and disloyalty which politicians routinely indulge in as part of the fabled ignominy of their vocation remained unheard of in the public service until the suspended CBN Governor set his inglorious record with reckless abandon.
Far from the coveted profile of a whistle-blower that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was unscrupulously seeking in his last days in office, his political pranks and antics portrayed him as a tendentious tale-bearer playing to the gallery of political detractors of the government that accorded him trust and confidence.
The fundamental flaw in the contrived crusade of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi against purported sharp practices and alleged diversion of oil revenue from the nation’s coffers is that of adopting a holier-than-thou attitude in his working relationship with fellow top executives in the NNPC in particular and the ministries of petroleum and finance in general, instead of the partnership and synergy required among public officers for good governance.
This is evident from all the steps the suspended CBN Governor took in his ill-advised decision to stand out of line to expose and combat perceived corruption in the system. There is nothing wrong with him taking it upon himself to crusade against corruption but there is a whole lot wrong with deviating from established procedures of public service and adopting a cloak and dagger cavalier approach towards an otherwise desirable endeavour.
It was this “lone ranger” misadventure that also robbed the suspended CBN Governor of available facts and figures from relevant government institutions and agencies on the very issues that he exuberantly took to the public gallery based solely and misleadingly on his ill-conceived collation of substantiating data without reference to relevant sister agencies for verification and reconciliation.
This error of judgment is not expected of a financial technocrat with enviable academic attainments such as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, making it difficult if not impossible not to attribute such indiscretion to ulterior political motives. The timing of media leakage of his infamous letter to the President coinciding with the opposition’s campaign of calumny against the Presidency lent credence to strong suspicion of the suspended CBN Governor’s political partisanship to the detriment of good governance and in violation of the non-political ethics of public officers in positions of public trust.
If Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had any benefit of doubt in his favour this was also negated by the way and manner he chose to persist in his perfidy after being constrained to admit mathematical inaccuracies and even disregard for corrective data available in CBN at public hearings. It was a deplorable case of self-indictment for him to climb down from his highly exaggerated figures of “diverted” and “unremitted” proceeds of oil revenue to the point of conceding to crying wolf where none existed, after convincing documented clarifications from NNPC debunked this and several other misrepresentations.
It also got the point where the suspended CBN Governor was exceeding his official brief and the statutory functions of the CBN in his wild goose chase of the mirage of “stolen” proceeds of oil revenue. At the end of it all, the series of reconciliations and legislative probes instigated by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi in order to disparage NNPC and Minister Diezani could not isolate any sharp practice or corrupt diversion worthy of mention in NNPC’s management of the nation’s oil revenue under the watch of Minister Diezani.
The fiasco of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s pretentious posturing as a credible sentinel over oil revenue, including violation of public service ethics and regulations, was sufficient ground for him to salvage what remained of his honour by resigning from office, failing which, he should have been sacked summarily.
Even public opinion across the country was quite critical of the suspended CBN Governor’s well-publicized clumsy bungling of a so-called crusade against corrupt diversion of oil proceeds. However it is instructive to note that in suspending him from office, President Goodluck Jonathan cited reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by “various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline”.
It also expressed deep concern about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate.
Discerning minds will appreciate the significance of this new dimension to the excesses of the suspended CBN Governor as the immediate cause of his timely sanction. Since his appointment, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has pandered more towards populist political posturing than to the sober, self-restrained and technocratic stance of the nation’s banker.
His tendency to see himself as a governor in the political rather than the economic context saw him on a spree of doling out huge funds to several private purposes and interests from the CBN’s accounts. He was certainly making political hay from the luxuriant grass of CBN’s coffers in this process which, to put it mildly, is an unprecedented redefinition of the functions of the CBN, contrary to charter and convention.
Against the background of another misadventure with graver implications on the larger picture of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s temperamental tenure as CBN Governor, it is tempting to highlight the hindsight view now focused on the spectre of an anti-corruption charade orchestrated also to divert media/public attention from the emerging CBN-GATE and pre-empt the outcome of on-going investigations with insinuations of a witch-hunt. No wonder Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has vowed not to return to office even if his challenge of the legality of his suspension is upheld. No wonder as far back as March 2013 had made up his mind that he would not seek a renewal of his tenure when it expires in April 2014 as he never intended to stay beyond a single tenure. Whatever else he intended with his tenure at the CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi ended up a sad and sour sight to behold! Good riddance, indeed.
OSEGHALE ERAHODU, a public analyst writes from Benin City.