Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, recently made of N100 million cash donation on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to victims of bomb blasts in Kano, his native home. Amid heavy critique of being partial to Kano, his native home, he donates N25m to the Madalla blast victims in the Niger State bomb explosion.

Now the psychology of his judgment and decisions on this issue is being questioned in regards to the sensibility, legality or ethics for such good gesture, and is the wrongness in this case due to some personal ethical ‘code’.

Does the Presidency through the National Assembly has a laid down system for approving federal funds for any sort of relief, including that of terrorism offset or relief?

What now appears as a tragedy of good intentions could understandably be corrected with effective ethical rules as operative instruments for self-regulation with public agencies.

When there is a crisis of standards like the Sanusi ethics complaints there is need to understand the details in political and official contributions, donations, and other aids.

As an executive if Sanusi was going to make his personal contribution the general rule for executive branch officials in Presidential type governments, globally, is a gift of about $20 in cash or something a little bit more. This ethics or rules usually apply to government officials like Sanusi and not to private parties.

And if the special help is part of an agency’s Corporate Social Responsibility it must be guided by the legislature in terms of a code of ethics as it relates to given, donating, or transferring money as a loan, grant, or donation from public fund for assistance sake.

In other words, the public policy for CBN’s Corporate Social Responsibility with the help of the Bank’s Chief Ethics Officer if there is any or with the assistance of the Bank’s Office of Ethics and Professional Conduct should clearly show how public or official funds are donated for emergency, social, or other purposes.

If not issues of unevenness, discrimination and insensitivity in terms of fulfilling these responsibilities could be raised by good faith persons or the public.

The initial reported N100 million cash donation by Sanusi Lamido while it looks small in the eyes of the government, it is a huge money in terms of the ethics, motive, or authority involved, as the announcement did not show that the authorization came from the President with the direct blessings of the legislature as it is in presidential or executive type democracies..

Also, do we really have the statistics and the objective number of the Kano/madalla victims of Boko Haram violence who will get this money? If yes, do we have the precedent for such official contribution from the CBN to other State governments with victims of insurgent violence? Now that the National Assembly is looking at this unusual issues, when will the public know fully how donations for victims relief should be authorized and what mechanisms are in place to make sure that such money is not abused, and it is smoothly disbursed to the real victims? And at what stage does a State government meet the standards for a particular federal assistance?

Sanusi’s supposed good act appeared to look unacceptable in the eyes of ethical conduct as it may lack legal precedence and it came out with unequal compensation and commitments to many other States with similar challenges and experiences.

Even if this public fund was not the solo decision of the CBN Governor and that he may have received the blessing of the federal government the action is still out of line with standard democratic practice, as it the President and the National Assembly that would have publicly used the CBN as its representative to hand out the money from the national treasury.

Why this is important is that any time in the future which include tomorrow any head to an executive or governmental body could wake up from bed with his wife, simply bypass the National Assembly or the President as well as the Executive Council of the Federation, and on the basis that the affected region or State is his or her own native place ‘dish’ out N100 million cash or more in a free manner.

At a time when monetary, ethnic and religious tension appears to be very high and everywhere in the nation, this type of narrow judgment could further soil our relationships and make the administration look more silly in the eyes of the people and the international world.

Now it is up to the CBN and other major government bodies, or the Federal Government as a whole to inform and educate the nation on the ethics and law guiding public donation, relief fund and victim compensation.

John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D.,
[email protected]

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