Sanusi Lamido Sanusi : Sleaze As A Strategy

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By Oseghale Erahodu
Clearing the thick fog of media hype from the personality of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi reveals the true colours of this very unusual public officer who demands accountability in the financial sector but adamantly refuses to be accountable to anyone other than himself. The way he posed and pranced in the assumed role of an extra-official anti-corruption crusader at the tail end of his chequered tenure as CBN Governor, it is easy to forget that he was once an applicant, if not a prospector, for this coveted position.

That he voluntarily accepted the appointment after subjecting his haughty self to the rituals of screening underscores his awareness of the overriding superintendence of the procedures and systems and the inevitable subordination of ego and conviction, as pre-requisites for applicants. But, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi swiftly succumbed to the inebriation of powerful office so much that he relished in the misguided mindset of a presidential aide to whom the President should defer, capitalizing capriciously on the flaws of the CBN Act.

Typical of successful applicants once ensconced in the privileges and perks of such a prestigious position, humbling recollections of the rigorous rites of passage to coveted office are quickly consigned to the remote recesses of memory. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was no exception. In fact he was a good example of an applicant turned opportunist who boisterously bulldozed himself to the frontiers of despotism under the delirious influence of superiority complex gone haywire. For it was not only the banking sector that he reduced to a trivial turf for his self-righteous tantrums, even the revered emirate of Kano fell under his vaulting urge to subdue as he indecorously paraded his inherited title of Ciroman Kano with unbecoming bravado, barely concealing an inordinate desire to usurp the emirship.

It is however his tattered tenure at the CBN  that best illustrates the worst in Sanusi Lamido Sanusi's convoluted perspectives of public service in general and governorship of the CBN in particular. It is pertinent to point out that the suspended CBN Governor has been in office since 2009 when late President Yaradua brought him onboard. Although he is credited with the implementation of significant reforms in the banking sector, the fact is that he was actually completing what his predecessor Charles Soludo initiated. Those familiar with developments in the nation's banking sector have therefore never regarded Sanusi Lamido Sanusi with the awe the gullible fringes of the media accord him because there is simply nothing new or original in the options he took in response to emerging issues in the sector.

The suspended CBN Governor usurped media attention by launching sporadic attacks on the National Assembly over the financial cost of maintaining its members, a confrontation that first exposed Sanusi Lamido Sanusi's penchant for throwing stones at high quarters in order to be seen as being  above-board and fearless critic of the high and mighty. The truth however is that he was going beyond the call of duty in seeking to turn the CBN into some sort of auditor of the political economy, a role better suited to the Auditor General of the Federation. In pursuit of a customized clean b ill of health, the suspended governor courted  controversy far beyond the financial and economic circles, even poking his nose into Boko Haram affairs. Then he launched himself into the business of doling out billions of naira from CNB coffers to various supposedly humanitarian causes during which public concern was expressed specifically about the selfish selectivity of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi's “philanthropy” with public funds that tellingly favoured his home front.

After a brief lull in his contrived crusades, the sudden re-emergence of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi towards the middle of last year has now proved to be a cunning strategy precisely timed to pre-empt the revelation of the crusader's soft underbelly of selective philanthropy with public funds. Just as the public outrage and curiosity was aroused so also was the statutory oversight of the Financial Reporting Council which has responsibility for monitoring the financial activities of the CBN. It has emerged that the Council discovered stunning departures from due process in the Sanusi philanthropy. Among their findings were a host of hush-hush donations that Nigerians never knew had been made, including some with political coloration and others taht could only have been intended to strengthen the hands of the detractors of government.

There were discrepancies between CBN records and public statements of expenditure on the pet projects, substantial financial interventions in sectors such as education which are disproportionate in comparison what the ministries budget and even humongous allocations to what are frivolous projects in terms of critical areas of development need in a nation like ours. Of course most of these irregularities and arbitrary funding of projects considered inappropriate in a developing country among others are pointers to the disregard for rules governing appropriation in general and specifically the due process of procurement binding on all government agencies which are meant to prevent such abuses. For obvious reasons, these are abridged tips of an ice-berg that is yet to fully unravel but create sufficient grounds for whosoever is involved to be uncomfortable, to say the least.

What Nigerians should be looking at now with their traditional cynicism is the coincidence between Sanusi Lamido Sanusi resuming his rabble-rousing tirades and the emergence of a potentially indicting report from the Financial Reporting Council. There is plenty room for cynical review of the “anti-corruption” antics of the suspended CBN Governor in the context of a drowning man clutching at straw. In particular the level of inaccuracies, approbations and reprobation that have bedevilled Sanusi Lamido Sanusi's attacks on the integrity of the NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry are strongly suggestive of a panic-driven inquisition that was unavoidably bereft of thoroughness and conclusive verification prior to going public.

Despite these discrediting deficiencies in his anti-corruption stance, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has nevertheless substantially achieved the ulterior motive of his endeavour by whipping up so much media hysteria of prejudice and partisan political propaganda portraying him as the under-dog victim of presidential vindictiveness whereas an objective and detached viewpoint clearly debunks this as cunning manipulation of compromised media and gullible public sentiment. In the fullness of time the truth and nothing but the whole truth will set the records straight once and for all. Until then not every “whistle blower” is as clean as a whistle.