“I have no regrets; I have no ill feelings and with no sadness. I’m happy; I’m proud of what I have done”.
These were the words of
Sanusi as he reacted to his suspension as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Though the Presidency referred to its unprecedented action “suspension from office”, it attracted divergent views from Nigerians of all walks of life.
Many Nigerians expressed anger over his sudden removal and claimed that he was being punished because of the series of revelations he had made about corrupt practices at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC), in the recent past. Recently, Sanusi revealed that $20 billion oil revenue was unremitted by the NNPC.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, debunked insinuations that the suspended CBN governor was witch-hunted because of revelations of financial corruption in the NNPC.
Rather, Abati stated that financial recklessness and misconduct were reasons for his suspension. At a press conference with State House correspondents in Abuja, Abati further asserted that Sanusi’s sins also included refusal to comply with Public Procurement Act in the procurement practices of the CBN.
In line with a presidential directive, Sanusi has since handed over to Dr Sarah Alade, who will operate as the acting CBN governor. But as Alade stepped into Sanusi’s shoes in an acting capacity, the President curiously nominated the Zenith Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive, Godwin Emefiele, to replace Sanusi. Emefiele’s confirmation is before the Senate.
The allegations against Sanusi are grave. Had he been truly proved guilty in a fair process, he would have deserved nothing less than an outright removal. But the question is why were the allegations which relate to his activities over the last five years left dormant till now? Why did the Presidency have to wait until Sanusi raised issues about corruption in NNPC before the allegations were made?
Given the fact that the embattled CBN governor had only three months to the end of his tenure, I think he should have been allowed to stay on. Mr President’s action could easily be interpreted to mean that he is getting back at Sanusi because of his latest pronouncements on the issue of non-remittance of funds by the NNPC into the federation account. The contrary is difficult to prove in the circumstances.
A proper appraisal of the situation will lead any reasonable person to the inevitable conclusion that the action will definitely have negative implications for the nation’s economy if left to stand. Given the sanctity of the CBN as an institution, the confidence of investors in the economy will be affected negatively. This development is indeed worrisome because what investors desire to see is good governance underscored by business-friendly economic reforms. Hence, decisions of this nature are not in any way confidence inspiring.
My dilemma was heightened when I discovered that the CBN Act (2007) does not empower the President to suspend the CBN governor. The clear provision in the Act is for his removal. And the Act provides that he cannot be removed except by the express consent of two-third majority members of the Senate. Where then does the President derive his powers to suspend the governor? Again, if Sanusu’s suspension is not an outright removal through the back door, why has Emefiele been nominated to replace him? The truth is that the President is in clear breach of Section II (7) of the CBN Act.
Sanusi may have had his own fault while in office. As a whistle blower, he might have blown the whistle out of proportion by failing to be accurate in the figures purported to have been misappropriated. But without him, would Nigerians have known that NNPC was not remitting billions of dollars to the federation account? The actual amount is immaterial. Some of the amount he quoted to have been missing, have not been reconciled uptil date.
It is hard for the Presidency to convince anyone that Sanusi’s suspension is not politically-motivated. The reason is that the timing of the decision was curious and he was neither given a just treatment nor fair hearing. Why has the suspension come at a time when he had made allegations of missing funds which remain unresolved?
I am particularly concerned that the allegation of financial recklessness by the Financial Reporting Council , upon which the former CBN governor was suspended, failed to indicate whether he was given fair hearing in line with our constitution. Sanusi’s suspension is sad and contemptuous of a man who worked assiduously and courageously.
Sanusi might have undermined the office of the President on a couple of occasions especially by the way he talked. But I wish President Jonathan and his advisers would be more tactful and strategic in their actions. Most especially they should make the masses their focus not politicians with vested interest.
Though the President acted unilaterally and in total disregard for the law, the soul of the matter is not whether Mr. President is wrong or right but whether an approach that undermines the personal interest of the President to that of the nation would have been more meaningful and just to all Nigerians.
Whether Nigerians choose to celebrate the President’s action or condemn it, the outcome should be our primary concerns.