SANUSI, ENEMY OF NIGER DELTA
The problem with Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is that he is not very good at cover-up. When he launched his sanitization war of banks, he tried his best to hide his bias, but many saw it all and accused him of targeting certain banks and their chief executives for destruction. The mere fact that he did not carry out a full audit of all banks before pouncing on his targets seemed to betray his perceived motives. Today, we know that though he caught some big time thieves, he also showed great bias. Some other bank CEOs were caught in the second round of the audit, and must have given some banks the advantage of time.
Also, the exercise gave huge advantage to his bank, which shot up over the rest and is today the giant, while others merely follow. Now, we are hearing that First Bank also gave more loans than it ought to, but the matter was quietly handled by getting AMCON to buy off the bad loans and save the bank from any hassles. What a favour! So, Sanusi can also give favours.
Sanusi is viewed to have Islamic agenda in Nigeria. Many say that by launching Islamic bank and by creating a pool of funds meant for Muslims, he could be creating a big weapon for a financial jihad and could therefore, be a more potent fighter than Boko Haram.
There may be a point in this analogy.
All these are not the concern of this column for now, but all is to show that this important Nigerian is truly not very good in hiding his motives. There has been a huge suspicion, and this has been reported by a national business newspaper, that sectional bickering or interest may have been the reason why the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), a policy tool that should free the oil sector to grow astronomically high, has been stifled. For two years now, no new investment has been won in the Nigerian oil sector, but everything is going to Angola and Ghana.
This is because international oil investors want Nigeria to sort out the PIB bill and set new financial policies before they would carry out FIDs (final investment decisions). This has been hanging so badly that a senator, Magnus Abe, had to reveal at the investment forum in Port Harcourt last week that he had searched and found no PIB in the National Assembly, meaning that it would require the Presidency to re-introduce the bill for another slow motion to start, probably until a northerner takes over and finally kill the initiative. The press is saying that most northern lawmakers, acting out an agenda, do not like the 10% slot proposed for the oil communities in the PIB bill. Now, of all the huge gains in the bill, it is the small benefit to oil states that is an offence in that all-important bill.
As if to confirm the hostility and jealousy of some Nigerian political elites against the South-South/Niger Delta, the same region they used to delude as friends, Sanusi, who does not seem to know how to mask his motives, spoke in Port Harcourt to betray his anger (and position of many like him there) over higher revenue allocations to oil-producing states.
He was quoted in an online newspaper, The Will, thus: 'We have to recognize that it is not easy to think of Nigerian states today as having only one difficulty. While one state seems to have a problem with too much money, other states have problems with too little money. So, before we go out praising Governor Amaechi for all he has done, you need to know how much money Rivers State has been getting compared to other parts of the country.
'And Governor Amaechi, I have the facts here. And I hope the people of Rivers are going to watch you for the next four years. I am going to tell them how much money they have gotten so that they can ask questions. I did some analysis of the money that was gotten and was distributed.
'It is interesting when you look at the fund allocation, derivation and population. Now, look at the numbers between 1999 and 2008, I found that Rivers State, for example, received a total of N1 trillion and 52 billion.
And I took a state like Kano with a population of over nine million and over the same period, it received N285 billion.'
Governor Amaechi may have refused to reply Sanusi out of courtesy, but first we want to inform Sanusi that the issue is not about the population of Rivers State, but how much is Kano, even with bloated number of LGAs, is contributing to the federal revenue profile. Sentiments and sympathy have no place in fiscal justice. We believe that Sanusi was not just talking about Rivers State. His target is the entire Niger Delta region, which he believes is over-pampered. This betrays the hostility of the powers that be in Abuja, who are blocking the PIB bill so that Niger Delta states would not get more funds. They forget that if the oil region is happy, there would be peace and stability, and if this be, more oil would flow and more revenue would come to everyone.
The region called Niger Delta of Nigeria indeed has many enemies. Many of them masquerade as friends, but a lover is known when interests clash, when understanding is needed, and when justice needed to be dispensed. Sanusi needs to be re-educated on the problems of the Niger Delta before he begins the illogical comparison of Rivers State and Kano. The Nigerian nation is cheating the people of the Niger Delta and this has been the fears of the region before the Sir Henry Willink's Commission Report of 1957/8. The Akassa Raid and the Opobo crisis are still raw in our memories.
They agitated the coming together in 1960 and expressed these fears. There, it was clearly admitted that the region had peculiar environmental challenges and that if the country would stay together in peace through justice, a separate development fund be established to carry out special projects while the region would still benefit from the rest development efforts of the Federal Republic, as well as regional government. The Report did not entrust development of the Niger Delta on the regional government or on lack of corruption of governors.
What the Niger Delta has got over the decades since the 1958 Report are debates and prevarications by enemies of the region and rulers of the nation from Lagos and Abuja, on whether or not to implement that Report. When they agree to do so, it is with half-heartedness. Often, they give with one hand and take with the other. This sad development gave rise to armed agitations in the region. Thanks to the amnesty programme of the Yar'Adua/Jonathan administration.
Some enemies of Niger Delta people are angry that the region was carting away a huge percentage of the nation's resources through the NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, 13%, etc. and wondering what is left for the rest of the country. The truth is that even by Sanusi's findings, many states of the federation, including some from the Niger Delta region, are bankrupt.
Rivers is not one of the healthy states, according to Sanusi's report.
Sanusi and his ilk will never care to calculate what is made from the region, but what is given to them. If every region were to contribute half of what the Niger Delta contributes, would there be poverty in the land? If some other regions were to contribute what the Niger Delta is contributing, they would have since seceded or enthroned resource control policy in the constitution. These we know.
The Federal Government set up the NDDC years ago to fight the environmental problems and create a new economy for the people, but when N436 billion accrued to the NDDC, the Federal Government under Chief Obasanjo, kept back N326 billion and released a mere N110 billion. Now, would the released amount be enough to make any impression in the region?
The 13% now being released, is it not being used to fight security problems created by the same Federal Government? The Federal Government sends soldiers and police but the states fund them, yet Sanusi and his ilk watch when states take over federal responsibility.