ANOTHER LOOK AT THE REPORT THAT 'NAILED' SANUSI
Since he ordered the suspension from office of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, President Goodluck Jonathan has come under serious criticisms from two opposing quarters.
From one quarter has come the criticism that the action was simply to punish the man for his public criticism of financial operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and to divert attention from his allegation that the oil giant short-changed the Federation Account by a whopping $20 billion.
From the other is a diametrically opposed view that Jonathan delayed, for too long, the CBN Governor's removal with its collateral damage to the institution in particular, and the Nigerian economy in general.
Those who hold the latter view say if the President had acted on receipt of the damning report prepared by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) on the operations of the CBN under Sanusi, the nation would have been saved the huge sums of money he recklessly expended on all manner of projects.
The 13-page report which made far-reaching allegations of financial impropriety against the suspended CBN governor, frowned seriously at his unbecoming conduct as well as the humongous spending on areas that are inconsistent with the vision of the regulatory bank.
Although government had been reviewing -prior to his suspension --a number of reports relating to the CBN, especially following the audit of the bank by international accounting firms, the enormity of his unwholesome practices became the last straw that broke the Carmel's back.
With Sanusi's suspension, it becomes compelling to revisit that report, not only because it led to his immediate troubles but because it has the potential for more revelations about the man.
From the reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, it is clear that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi's tenure was characterized by acts that negate the core values of focused economic management and financial discipline.
Not only did the man dabble too often into the murky waters of politics, an issue that distracted the Central Bank from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate, his reign at the CBN was marked by a glaring lack of prudence and transparency.
Those who say the President was slow in acting, cite Sanusi's response to the query issued him by the President over his spending spree.
Sanusi was queried by President Jonathan alongside former chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Dr Festus Odimegwu, in 2013.
While Odumegwu was queried for his provocative utterances, that of the CBN Governor stemmed from the initial reports gathered from the forensic audit of the CBN.
While Odimegwu had since left without any hullaballoo, Sanusi whose response neither addressed the issue raised by the President nor slowed down his flagrant abuse of due process in financial management, remained in office.
It took the Council's report to arrive at the conclusion that his response to that query was 'a clear display of incompetence, nonchalance, fraud, wastefulness and deliberate efforts to misrepresent facts.
' While some of the allegations in the report had indicted Sanusi personally, putting his integrity and competence to question, others highlight the abuse of due process that generally characterised his administration of the apex bank.
For instance, Mr.
Sanusi is alleged to have spent a whopping N1.
257 billion for lunch for policemen and private guards in 2012 alone, and made bogus payments to airlines for currency distribution across Nigeria.
Curiously, for a man who gives the impression that he thrives on moral rectitude, Sanusi has held an account with a balance of N1.
423 billion for an unidentified customer since 2008.
Even though he became governor in 2009, he should have done the needful in this circumstance.
He never did.
The Council's report alleges that Sanusi approved billions of naira in ambiguous payments to invoices referred to as 'Contribution to Internal National Security' and 'Centre of Excellence', fuelling speculations that they were routed to states controlled by the All Progressives Congress.
This is in addition to his donation of N1 billion to the party for it to open offices across the country.
There is also the claim by Sanusi that the CBN paid N38.
233 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc in 2011 for the 'printing of bank notes' whereas the turnover of the entire printing and minting company group is N29.
370 billion, far less than what Sanusi claimed the company earned from the CBN alone.
Sanusi used his discretion most impudently.
He single-handed approved over N150 billion for the execution of over 63 'intervention projects' across Nigeria.
Not only were the projects commenced without any appropriation, there is no yardstick for determining the choice of projects and their locations.
He was one of the first to respond by donating a whopping N100 million to victims of Boko Haram attacks in his native Kano state and to several other communities and institutions in mainly the Northern part of Nigeria without adherence to due process.
Some of the questionable donations include N4 billion to Bayero University, Kano; N10 billion to Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto; N500 million to the University of Benin.
The violation of financial regulations had dire financial implications on the CBN's operations since many of the projects captured in the report are not related to the CBN's mandate.
The summary of the Council's recommendation was that the President should exercise the powers conferred on him by Section 11 (2) (f) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 or invoke Section 11 (2) (c) of the said Act and cause the Governor and the Deputy Governors to cease from holding office in the CBN.
President Jonathan took as many as 8 months in taking that step, which many people criticize, considering the damage that was being done to that regulatory institution.
Indeed, the rot in the bank is staggering but it is understandable why Jonathan consulted widely before letting the hammer fall: government had to be careful in dealing with the issue so as not to upset the stability of the country's financial sector with a growth rate in double digits.
When he did eventually, he also directed the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria to carry out a full investigation of the activities of the CBN.
Lagos lawyer, Mr.
Femi Falana who blamed Sanusi for his downfall, 'having regard to his irreconcilable differences with the Jonathan administration', said he ought to have voluntarily resigned his appointment.
While he arrived at the conclusion that 'Mr Sanusi has himself to blame for his suspension from office on account of alleged financial recklessness', he called on the Federal Government to allow the Auditor-General of the Federation to audit the accounts of the CBN and the NNPC by virtue of section 85 of the Constitution.
The FRCN report may have done so much to bring sanity to the CBN but those who know Sanusi and how he held sway in the apex bank say the findings are yet a tip of a large iceberg.
The new probe to be undertaken on other periods of his tempestuous tenure may yet reveal a lot more sordid indiscretions and malfeasances.
Written By Mustapha Abdullahi