The suspension Thursday of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from his plum job as the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by President Goodluck Jonathan was reminiscence of the jackboot days.
It also reminded Nigerians of the fiat approach to issues in the military era without consultations or regard for due process.
Today, history appears to be on play-back. On July 29, 1975, while attending the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit in Kampala, Uganda, Yakubu Gowon, then head of state was removed in a bloodless coup, which was later announced by the then Colonel Joseph Garba.
Sanusi’s suspension, which observers believe may spell his eventual exit from CBN, took place while he was away in Niamey, Niger, where he had gone to represent the country as a member of the watch group on the West Africa currency zone.
While Nigerians were thinking they had passed the dark days of the military when all manner of impunity reigned supreme, as people’s rights were denied them, many were clamped into jail, and others killed on mere suspicion of wrong-doing, the Jonathan administration appears to be bringing back such sad memories, and re-enacting the impunity of yesteryears.
The administration did not only suspend Sanusi, it went ahead to arrest him briefly at the airport, as he returned to the country from Niger. Pundits are of the opinion that the motivation may not be to try him in any law court but to harass him into submission.
To gain legitimacy and win public sympathy, government alleged that it took the decision as a result of some reports that indicted Sanusi of corruption and spending money without appropriation.
According to the Presidency, the report indicated “clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterised by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct, which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline.”
It was added in the statement that “being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement its statutory mandate.”
The questions on the lips of many Nigerians are why was the suspension now that the man is opening the Pandora box of corruption in government; where was the Presidency all the while Sanusi was making the unauthorised donations; and why is the Jonathan administration so riled by Sanusi’s outburst, if its hands were clean, and why removing the man when investigations are on-going? Again, observers are wondering if the President can single-handedly suspend the CBN governor without clearance from the National Assembly.
Pundits say that the Presidency may have been emboldened to take the action against Sanusi since the federal lawmakers are reportedly pissed off by Sanusi’s inconsistency in the deluge of allegations he had brought against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and by extension, the attendant embarrassment to the establishment.
For instance, on Wednesday February 5, Ita Enang, a senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District, in a notice of Motion told the Senate that the CBN had within the last three years spent about N50 billion without appropriation as investments, donations to some educational, health and other institutions across the country .
The senator further alleged that the actions, investments, corporate donations among others are not part of the core functions of the CBN or in any manner ancillary thereto.
At a recent interview session with a principal officer of the Senate, BusinessDay was told that the now suspended CBN governor was in the habit of shouting wolf where there was none. The senator had advised that “high value persons must desist from making assertions that are not related to facts on ground to avoid creating wrong impression.”
Recall also that last week, while before the Senate Committee on Finance over the fresh allegation he brought against NNPC, Ahmed Makarfi, chairman of the committee, had warned Sanusi to desist from making unsubstantiated allegations.
By: Zebulon Agomuo