No Orchids for Mallam Sanusi: Whose Orchids and Who Cares? By Aare Ago
This must be a carefully written prose. Otherwise, cynics, faultfinders and self-proclaimed rhetoric extractors would craft and establish severe cases of vilification on the person, expressions, memory and intelligence of the original author of this subject. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that I hastily declare as follows:
“This piece is not a response in whatever sense, be it ordinary or extraordinary, to the original article of a most revered nationalist, Dele Momodu, titled NO ORCHIDS FOR MALLAM SANUSI. Neither is it an acknowledgement, a rejoinder nor a rebuttal to any of the claims and historical facts expressed therein, in parts or as a whole. The purpose of this article is to refresh the reader of facts that recent narrations, following the controversial suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS) as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, are trying to distort, misconstrue, and mutate. I have read and listened to a number of historical lies in passing comments by numerous commentators in recent times, which need correcting and, if necessary, challenging.”
SLS, no doubt, attracted many destructive critics, opponents and even enemies in his administration of our commonwealth. As much, he equally attracted a number of admirers. As clearly stated in one of his open lectures, he is not unaware of the dangers (and benefits) of fighting corruption at its very core. He made it abundantly clear in his statements every time that he wasn’t one to be cowered; neither by intimidations/threats (dangers) nor incentives/baits (benefits). He wasn’t one to be quietened either. This uncommon bravery and courage exuded by a public servant, are what many doubters, who fall short in their stance, tagged ego!
I have read recent posers that suggested that under the watch of SLS, many banks folded up and thousands of jobs were lost in the same industry he was supposed to protect. They insinuated that the hard work, sweats and investments of business promoters/shareholders were allowed to go down the drain during SLS’ witch-hunting proceedings. In some quarters, Sanusi had craftily edged out some Managing Directors under the pretext of prolonged leadership at the saddle.
Some even went as far as claiming that SLS had some clandestine programs to “Islamise” Nigeria. They drew up some anti-south, or worse off anti-Christianity, hypotheses about his reforms and sold them to gullible emptors who bought all the prevarications hook, line and sinker. Some cynics even complained about his “Hollywood” accent and oratory acumen. That is the last item I will comment upon. That is just laughable!
To start with, how many banks folded up under Sanusi? ZERO! To SLS, it was a matter of principle that “No Bank must be allowed to fail” and in deed, none failed. It is a distortion/misrepresentation of facts to equate the acquisition of a financial institution by the government to failure. For clearer understanding, one might need to dig the archives on National and Savannah banks where depositors’ funds (and lives) were lost while the promoters/shareholders of such ventures became eternally rich(er). Banking business, in Nigeria, had become no more than other fraudulent ventures like 419 (Advanced Fee Fraud).
We need not riff through the act that setup the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to know that “if a bank fails today in Nigeria, no matter what amount of deposit anyone, irrespective of social or economic status, might have in such bank, (s)he would be obliged a first (and probably a final) withdrawal of
N150 thousand only until a total and thorough reconciliation of the bank’s books is completed and the bank handed over to NDIC ”. This exercise itself would naturally take several months to conclude, if not years. At the end of it, depositors are still not guaranteed. I cannot recall this happening under Sanusi-led CBN. This is what bank failure means in Nigeria today.
Many of the “monumental” job losses that were unfortunately suffered during the financial fiasco had no scientific linkages to “Hurricane Sanusi” that swept across the industry. In fact, it was the result of the power tussle between the regulator and the regulated. Banks needed to create a scarecrow for the CBN to abandon its reforms and policies, and to return to business as usual. This scarecrow, was the massive job losses. It is needless to state that most of the banks who wickedly and loudly retrenched their staff members had since quietly and massively recruited their replacements.
We need not dwell and waste our times on witch-hunting the moment answers are provided to this simple question: “Were these bank directors culpable in the crimes levied against them by Sanusi-led CBN?” I do not consider it praiseworthy that depositors’ funds be squandered on personal properties across the globe. Like Sanusi, I consider it criminal!
A more critical point for examination is the postulation of the “Islamization” of Nigeria by Sanusi through his policies and vindictive reforms. On this issue, traducers base their arguments on two weak premises. First, they claim that southerners’, or worse off Christians’, banks were the main targets of his obnoxious revolution. Secondly, they suppose that the introduction of Non-Interest banking (otherwise widely known as Islamic banking) in Nigeria, would undermine Christianity and strengthen Islam. They argue that such banks might be used to fund Boko Haram and any such terrorist organizations. The latter is profane, absurd and bereft of any logical & intelligent reasoning.
Does a bank need special appellations or classifications for it to commit financial atrocities? It is just ridiculous how cynics think – pathetic! With all the insinuations, one is made to believe that an Islamic bank in Nigeria is not connected to the rest of the industry. It operates in isolation and governed by acts different from CBN and the BOFIA. How silly? For the records, it was Prof Charles Soludo, a Christian, who mooted the ideas and ideals of non-interest banks modelled after Islamic financial principles. Not SLS. He merely implemented it.
As much as I do not like to draw comparison between Sanusi and his predecessor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, it becomes a thing of necessity to examine some historical facts and the rhetorics cooked up by cynics thereafter.
At the inception of Soludo’s tenure, there were about 82 banks in Nigeria, which were reduced to 25 at expiration. With mergers and acquisitions, Soludo had created rock-solid financial institutions that were supposedly capable of lending funds to the Federal Government had it been in distresss. He was praised to high heavens. The consolidation exercise of Soludo was announced on July 6, 2004 and it elapsed in December 2005. By January 2006, Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) founded by late renowned policitian, Dr Olusola Saraki in the late 1980s was shut due to its supposed failure to meet the requirement of the new Capital base for National banks –
N25 billion. Then, that was the reason!
No one at that time insinuated that either the North or the Muslim community was been pointedly targeted and undermined by either the Federal Government or the CBN, both at the time led by Southern Christians. It was a holier-than-thou exercise! The moment Sanusi stepped out to challenge “alleged corrupt practises” of some fund managers, who coincidentally are Southerners and mostly Christians, the news about attempts by this Northern Muslim to islamize Nigeria broke out. It became the bad name by which a dog must be called for it to be hung. They are quick to forget that BankPHB, also affected by the reform, was partly owned by a Northern Muslim and then sitting President of Nigeria, late Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
SGBN had since reclaimed its ill-seized license in December 2012 through a prolonged judiciary process as a regional bank and has re-branded as Heritage Banking Company Limited. Would SGBN’s victory be a proof that Charles Soludo, a Catholic Christian, was vindictive against Northerners and by extension, Muslims? And was he also trying to “Christianise” Nigeria with his reforms that “maliciously” targeted Northern/Muslim banks? NO! I believe that by the facts available to the CBN Governor at that time, SGBN did not qualify for a National Banking licence. Period! I might be wrong but the facts do not say so.
It is on this similar vantage that I have obliged Sanusi Lamido Sanusi all the benefits of the doubts on the accusations of Islamising Nigeria. He clearly made it abundantly clear that among other things, the financial recklessness of certain flamboyant fund managers was the reason for his actions. It was also on the premise of the gross misconducts and poor Corporate Governance in the Banking Industry that he, SLS, thoughtfully entrenched a policy that ensures no Managing Director dominates over a delicate constituent of the economy eternally. The timeless lordship over banks by its MD/CEOs is a major reason for the downward thrust on Corporate Governance.
Would it be out of place for a Central Bank Governor to address and mitigate rots in the system he regulates? I guess not! Let us not forget that for every time a bank is allowed to fail for any reason, especially in a country like ours, depositors suffer the most. The mass of peasants and middle-class citizens are the focus of Sanusi’s philosophy of “Sustained Banking principles and practises”
Since this fiasco started, I have listened and read, till this moment, ALL available interviews he, Sanusi, had granted. Contrary to some opinions that he is banking on the support of the people in his fight against the government, he portrays to me a man of rare courage and mettle, who would rely on no one to except his conscience, in his battles. He is ready to sacrifice everything including his life. He also did not sound like he was unaware of the possible backlashes. Needless to remind the public that Sanusi was an active member of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). Battles likes this are not rare events for a combatant.
Nigerians, and generally human beings, are very difficult to please. Imagine what the populace would have said had Sanusi known and kept quiet about the misdemeanors and the gargantuan racketeering in the Oil Industry. Would it be appropriate to postulate therefore that, we have devolved and become inherently resentful of patriots for their unusual attributes of courage, bravery, intelligence, commitment and sacrifice; partly, due to our seclusion from people of such great nature and largely, to our daily condemnable sybaritic romance with corrupt public officers and politicians?
While it is true that Jonathan might have made some superstar martyr out of the Mallam, I do not think Sanusi acted in the ways and manners he did to attract public commendations and praises. The events that occurred were, by themselves, breaking news. Impunity of such giant statures dwarfs previous accounts. Rhetoric of his expressions suggests a man who attempts to forestall clairvoyant calamities by instituting ethical precedence. He said he would seek justice in a competent law court to forestall recurrence of this fascist-like tendency of a president.
Of orchids, SLS had his abundant share long before this controversy broke out. If the hat-trick of his recognition as the global Central Bank Governor of the year for 3 successive years and the conferment of a National Award, Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), by GEJ do not count, his place in the economic history of Nigeria as a reformist, who radically opposed public impunity and whose deft maneuvering saved the masses from financial/economic carnage led by banks’ chiefs and politicians as slaughterers would surely earn and guarantee him an orchid plantation.
In the face of the debauching allegation by Sanusi-led CBN against Diezani’s NNPC, I least expected that the Federal Government, the parent body to whom both agencies report to would pitch its tent with one against the other. As a responsible and respectable umpire, it was supposed to take a backseat until the issues are resolved; especially with the initiative and leading interest of National Assembly to unravel the mystery that saps our federation monies.
Taking Sanusi out of the ring against Diezani, is rhetorically tantamount to fastidious efforts by the Presidency to cover the tracks that requited to it, stolen portion of our commonwealth. Having read the “political” reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, there is nothing in the allegations raised against CBN and Sanusi that cannot be uncovered and thoroughly dealt it without suspending the Governor. Looking through this spectacle therefore, I do not see how SLS deserves the withered orchids of a biased umpire; even if its sentiments were to be in his favour.
If this fascism is allowed to pass, like Sanusi rightly pointed out, no Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria would henceforth discharge his duties and responsibilities as the Chief Financial Analyst of the Federation without fears of being vilified and obnoxiously persecuted by passing and corrupt politicians.
Let’s not lose focus of the main issue: Diezani, where is our $20 Billion Oil proceed?
Aare Ago | @aareago | firstname.lastname@example.org
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to email@example.com