When the news the of dethronement of Mohammed Sanusi the erstwhile Emir of Kano filtered in many observers expressed shock but I was one of the many Nigerians who were not surprised or perturbed by the development. I know from the outset that Sanusi was an accident waiting to happen given his antecedents and braggadocio attitude. When I wrote the Rise and Fall of Sanusi in 2014 after his “dethronement as the Emir of CBN”, some of my colleagues called to chide me. I had told them then that Sanusi lacked the decorum and sobriety required of public office holders and that if ever he gets another public office again he would also crash. His unbridled loquacious tendencies, his avid cravings for limelight, his cavalier attitude and apparent lack of interest in results make him a poor candidate for public office. Public officers are supposed to be circumspect; ever conscious of their words and actions. But Sanusi cares less about the consequences of his words and action as he seems to act on impulse. He could have been a social activist or at best an actor who work on make-believe rather than a public administrator. Interestingly, some of those who complained about my syndicated piece on Sanusi have today called to call me a prophet. I am not a prophet; I do not have ecclesiastical authority to prophesy. I am only a keen observer of contemporary issues.
Sanusi seems to have an entitlement mentality which tends to make him think, talk, and act with impunity and military braggadocio and this may be a fallout of his orientation as a palace boy. He seems to have a wrong notion of what should be his privileges. He probably thought he was equal in rank withthe state governor who handed him his staff of office just the way he mistook CBN autonomy to mean equality with the president who appointed him to office and a licence to spend un-appropriated funds. Also, he felt he is accountable to no one even as he pays lip-service to issues of corruption. When he was indicted and queried by Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria for his poor performance and financial recklessness, he tried to whip up sentiment and diverted attention from the issue by raising spurious allegation of missing $49b and later $20b in NNPC. And again, when he was accused of financial impropriety by Kano state of government, instead of answering to the charges he rushed to court to stop the probe.
Ironically, Sanusi like to carry himself like an intellectual and a liberal reformer but it is all deception. He is a demagogue and an extremist. A man whose life ambition is to be an emir obviously cannot be a liberal person but one with hardcore belief perseverance. In December 1994 a citizen of Nigeria known as Gideon Akaluka was killed in a most gruesome manner, ostensibly for desecrating the Koran, and his severed head put on a spike and carried round the streets of Kano. Sanusi LamidoSanusi was fingered in that heinous act. People with progressive mind do not do such despicable things. Only the zealots, demagogues, fundamentalists, extremists and people with depraved minds do such things.
Again, what he did in the Nigerian banking sector when he held sway as CBN governor was a clear act of economic terrorism.He created an upheaval that destroyed the foundations of financial sector and the growth trajectory of the sector that was bourgeoning before his arrival. Nigeria was actually on the verge of becoming the African financial hub following the Banking Consolidation, when he came with selfish parochial and premeditated agenda and disrupted the stability of the banking system. As soon as he got in, he began to use his position to settle personal scores, harassing and intimidating those who were obviously his senior colleague in the industry and got some of them ignominiously shooed out of the system. And then he initiated a train of inconsistent and uncoordinated programmes he termed reform in the banking sector that destroyed the sector, crashed the stock market, and reduced public confidence and investors’ confidence in the economy. Till date, the banking sector has not recovered from his onslaught. The banking sector is still in a state of topsy-turvy. Only about five banks that control over 60% of the total deposit in the sector could be said to be OK.
He organized a hoax audit report that was never discussed with boards of the affected banks and with impunity and without recourse to due process, removed the managing directors of five Nigerian banks and terminated the careers of some executive directors without query and without recourse to the boards of the affected banks. He took away people banks and investments and pretended to help and finally sunk them through a dubious process fraught with fraud. He halted branch expansion, constricted the capacity of the banks by introducing regional licence, forced the banks to reduce staff strength and pay cut and introduced casualization into the system. He created credit squeeze and dollarization of the economy and capital flight by criminalizing lending. And while these were going on, the ignorant Nigerian public especially those who lost out during the Banking Consolidation exercise, the hirelings and the horde of hear-say analyst in the press cheered the phantom reforms.
Without doubt, Sanusi is an overrated individual whose apparent relevance is sustained by deceit, ignorance and hear-say spin doctors in the media. Obviously, he does not seem to have anycapacity, skills or attitude to effect any liberal or positive reform.He is a product of patronage. Alhaji Umar Mutallab is his godfather. By patronage, he rose to the peak of his banking career and got appointed as CBN governor by Yar’dua. And by patronage, he was hand-picked by Governor Kwankwaso ahead of Ado Bayero’s son to spite GEJ and to compensate Sanusi for the odd job he did for the opposition then. And he has gone the way he came. My people say that the finger scoop from the corner of the pot will end up in the corner of the mouth.
Sometimes what he says and does are in contradistinction. While in CBN, he made much fuss about corporate governance but acts unilaterally, with impunity and without due process. He removed bank MDs without queries and without recourse to the various boards after a stage-managed audit report. He spent over 150billion tax payers’ money ostensibly on CSR without appropriation and yet he yammered about prudential guideline. He gabbled about risk management but gave the banks the worst form of enterprise risk—reputational risk—through his unguarded utterances. His policy of forcing the banks to downsize created low morale in the banking sector and increased staff-fidelity risk. He forced the banks to retrench and told the Federal government to reduce the number of civil servants and yet while in CBN, he increased the staff strength by 50% flooding everywhere with his lackeys and cronies. His bogus reforms were marred by inconsistencies, reversals and policy mismatch. He forced the banks to remove ATM machine in public buildings, halted branch expansion, forced the banks to close some of their branches in a heavily under banked economy like ours while he yakked about financial inclusion and cashless economy.
Furthermore, in Kano where he reigned as the Emir, he lived in opulence while he grandstands as the champion of the commoners. What has he done since becoming Emir to better the lot of the Almajiris apart from empty rhetoric? He has not denied himself any of the royal privileges for the sake of the poor in his domain given that Northern Nigeria which Kano is the epicenter is one of the most impoverished parts of the world.He has fleets of exotic cars, forty horses. His annual expenditure as the emir can take the almost one million Almajiris in Kano off the streets. He built no school for the Almajiris neither did he create any programme or foundation to build capacity and empower the wretched people that surround him and gave him the semblance of royalty. If he was so much interested in educating the Almajiris, why did he fight the government thatbuilt Almajiri schools? Why did he not prevail on the present government and the Northern establishments to uphold the Almajiri or Nomadic Education programme?
Clearly, Sanusi speeches on the surface appear very good but I am never taken in by his words because of his antecedents. I have never hear him speak against the menace of herdsmen to which he is a patron and Boko Haram insurgency and yet people erroneously mistake for a liberal-minded reformer.
I am not concerned about the proprietary or otherwise of his dethronement. He is not the first person to be so treated in Nigeria. I am also aware that his grandfather Emir Mohammed Sanusi 1 was also dethroned in 1963. And no matter the political calculations as insinuated in some quarters, Sanusi deserved what he got. No political party desirous of electoral victory will field a candidate like him. Whoever imagined he would whitewash and package Sanusi the way they did Mr. Integrity and foist him on us has another think coming.
By Gozie Irogboli…
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