The Activist in CBN

Fri, Feb 28, 2014
By publisher

BREAKING NEWS, Cover, Featured

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, is not only a controversial activist, he is also proving to be a dogged fighter who likes to fight dirty

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Mar. 10, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

DESPITE being suspended from office, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, remains embattled. Since President Goodluck Jonathan asked him to step aside to allow an investigation panel to look into some of his financial activities as the chief banker of government, the controversial CBN boss has remained as combative as ever. True to his threat to challenge his suspension in court, Kola Awodein, SAN and lawyer to Sanusi, filed a case at an Abuja high court on Tuesday, February 25, on the matter. In the application filed on his behalf by Awodein, Sanusi wants the court to restrain the president, the attorney-general of the federation and the inspector general of police from giving effect to his purported suspension from office as the CBN governor, pending the determination of the suit.

He similarly wants the court to make an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants “from obstructing, disturbing, stopping or preventing him, in any manner whatsoever, from performing the functions of his office as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and enjoying in full, the statutory powers and privileges attached to the office.” Asking the court to expedite action in granting him the interlocutory application, Sanusi said any further delay might cause irreparable and serious damage to his statutory duties as the CBN governor. According to him, his suspension poses grave danger to Nigeria’s economy.

Sanusi links his suspension to the discrepancies he reported in the remittances of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to the federation account. He claimed that in the course of his duties as the CBN governor, he discovered certain discrepancies in the amounts paid into the federation account from the proceeds of crude oil sales between January 2012 and July 2013, which prompted him to express concern in respect of the discrepancies. He said that he duly informed the National Assembly of same “because they affect the revenue of the federation and the national economy.”

Presidnet Jonathan
President Jonathan

Sanusi insisted that his purported suspension  from office was the punishment for the disclosures he made. The CBN governor said the president did not approach or obtain the support of the Senate, as expected by the law before suspending him. He claims that his purported suspension was contrary to the provisions of the CBN Act relating to the appointment and removal of the CBN governor. As such, he declared in his affidavit that his purported suspension amounts to “unlawful interference in the administration and management of the apex bank and is illegal, null and void.” The matter was yet to be assigned to any judge for hearing.

Whatever the outcome of the case, Sanusi had already made it clear that his decision to challenge the matter was for  posterity and not for him per see. “If it (the decision) is not challenged, then from now on, the next CBN governor cannot be independent. He can be suspended for any reason, and the independence of the CBN would be totally undermined. It is important to establish the point legally whether this can happen. I do plan to ask the court to confirm if, indeed, that authority exists. I will challenge it,” Sanusi had said in an interview.

But President Jonathan believes that Sanusi’s suspension is in order. When the president was asked at a media chat on Monday, February 24, if he had the power to suspend the CBN governor, Jonathan said the president had an absolute power to suspend the CBN governor. “The CBN issue is quite unfortunate. The question is whether the president, by virtue of the constitution, has powers to suspend the governor of the CBN and I will tell you yes. The President has absolute powers to suspend the CBN governor… If you look at the Nigerian constitution, Section 153 talks about executive bodies like Federal Character Commission, Civil Service Commission, Independent National Electoral Commission, the Judicial Service Commission and the Code of Conduct Bureau. There are about 14 of them; these are clearly defined. The section states that the president appoints but the Senate clears…

“But the President has oversight functions over the CBN. So, if somebody tells you that the CBN is a different entity, it is not true because for the CBN governor to change the colour of the naira, the president must approve… Normally, when you audit the CBN, you publish it. After auditing, for you to publish it, the President must approve. That means the president must accept that that audit report is correct.”

Jonathan stressed that if Sanusi was absolved of the allegations levelled against him, he could return to his post until the end of his term in June. “But Sanusi is still the governor of the CBN and people must know that. That is why there can never be a substantive governor until the issue is sorted out. Sanusi can come back tomorrow to continue his work because the issues raised are the issues that the board of the CBN with the Financial Reporting Council, the authorities that have powers to look into the financial transactions of the CBN, will deal with,” he added.

As a gadfly, Sanusi is also garrulous. His tenure as governor of the CBN was as controversial as the man himself. Sometimes, it seems that the man does not only thrive in controversies but also relishes them. This could be seen in some of his actions since he assumed office as the CBN governor on June 4, 2009. His actions and conduct tend to suggest that he has a penchant for courting controversies and perhaps, sometimes, feels uncomfortable when he is not being discussed. Little wonder that despite the suspension, Sanusi appears to be unwilling to stop talking.


Shortly after  his suspension was announced, Sanusi spoke to local and foreign media and  tried to exonerate himself from the allegations that led to his suspension. In an interview he granted to Agence France-Presse, AFP, in Lagos, on Sunday, February 23, Sanusi accused the president of working with fraudulent and incompetent people. He said many of the president’s advisers were sycophants who would not speak frankly about the extent of corruption in his government. “When you sit with President Jonathan himself, he appears a nice, simple person, who is trying to do his best. However, his greatest failing obviously is that he is surrounded by people who are extremely incompetent, who are extremely fraudulent and whom he trusts,” he said.

That did not stop the president from getting him suspended. In fact, Sanusi, who  learnt of his suspension while still outside the country, returned immediately and  his international passport was seized by the Directorate of State Services, DSS. On Friday, February 21, he  secured a temporary order from the federal high court, Lagos, barring the DSS or the police from arresting him. Speaking on the seizure of his passport, Sanusi said, “I thought taking away my passport was the beginning of infringement on my fundamental human rights,” adding that he had already sought court protection over it. Regarding the allegations against him, Sanusi said he had earlier this year heard of a report condemning his performance and wrote to President Jonathan in “June or July” asking if an explanation was needed, but that he received no reply. According to him, the “first time I was formally notified about the allegations was the day I was suspended.” He said it would be too simple to describe his removal as payback for his attacks on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

His trouble, he believes, dates back to when he was appointed. “Since 2009, I have been annoying the government. You’ve got people who think I have the wrong friends, people who think, maybe, I have not distanced myself enough from people who are seen to be opposition figures,” he said. On his face-off with the NNPC, Sanusi told the AFP that the extent of the graft may have reached a historic height, saying, “I think everybody has known that the NNPC is rotten. I don’t think it has ever been as bad as this.” Sanusi expressed his readiness to face any attacks that may be coming from those  who are committed to preserving the status quo in a nation where, despite massive oil wealth, most people live in abject poverty. Few hours after Sanusi was suspended, the president appointed Sarah Alade as acting governor, and forwarded the name of Godwin Emefiele, managing director, Zenith Bank, to the Senate for approval as the new CBN governor.

Nevertheless, the fate of Sanusi hangs on the report of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN, the body responsible for auditing CBN reports, submitted to the presidency on June 7, 2013. The report alleged fraud, financial indiscipline and wastefulness of Sanusi’s spending in the CBN 2012 audited financial statement. The report recommended that Sanusi and his deputy governors should be suspended on grounds of financial recklessness in order to investigate the CBN. The 13-page report emanated from Sanusi’s response to the president’s query issued to the CBN boss in early 2013 over the apex bank’s alarming reckless donations nationwide and travel expenses. The report described Sanusi’s response to the president’s query as “a clear display of incompetence, nonchalance, fraud, wastefulness, abuse of due process and deliberate efforts to misrepresent facts.” The council accused the suspended banker of several violations including but not limited to carrying out activities with financial implications that are not related to the CBN’s mandate, especially billions of naira in ambiguous payments to invoices referred to as “Centre of Excellence” and “Contribution to Internal National Security”, and the CBN’s claim that it paid N38.233 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc in 2011 for the “printing of bank notes” whereas the turnover of the entire printing and minting company group was N29.370 billion.


The council also accused Sanusi of rogue payments as air charter fees to Emirates Airways (N0.511 billion), Associated Airline (N1.025 billion) and Wing Airline (N0.425 billion), for the distribution of currency nationwide whereas Emirates does not operate local charter flights within Nigeria, Wing Air is not registered in Nigeria with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and Associated Airlines did not have a billion naira turnover in 2011 and have no financial statements because the company said it had not had any significant operation in two years to warrant preparing a financial statement. All these are going to form part of further investigations being carried out by the Financial Regulatory Council of Nigeria. Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the federal government, said the government would expect the council to submit its report and recommendations in six weeks.

Contrary to allegations making the rounds and by Sanusi himself, the presidency said the suspension of Sanusi had nothing to do with his recent appearance at the Senate where he made startling allegations against the NNPC about missing $20 billion unremitted funds. President Jonathan, in his media chat, dismissed any suggestion that Sanusi was suspended because he exposed fraud in the NNPC. “So I want to assure all Nigerians that we will get to the root of the matter and account for every kobo. Nobody will be spared! I did not suspend Sanusi because he was blowing the whistle, nobody is covering anybody up. Government normally places people on suspension pending an investigation. When he completes his suspension, he could go back. The suspension became necessary so that he would  not stay in that office to frustrate  the process of investigation. Sanusi can  hope to go back to his duty if the investigation instituted by the government absolves him.”

Earlier, Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, insisted that Sanusi’s problem was in connection with his recklessness and violation of extant laws of the land. “The president has had to take this decision as part of an attempt to strengthen the CBN to ensure that the apex bank continues to be the symbol for prudence, integrity and accountability. Last year when the CBN submitted its financial statement for the year which ended 31st December 2012, a query was raised about some of the issues in the financial statement and the CBN governor was asked to offer some clarification with regards to these issues. This was around the first week of May 2013.

“A response came from the CBN which was then forwarded to the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria. The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, by its Act, is empowered to review the accounts of the CBN and if there is cause for investigation, to conduct such investigation. And if there is need also to invite other bodies to further investigate, the law makes allowance for that and that took place. Some of the outcomes of that process relates to the issues raised about financial recklessness. The question has also been raised on whether this has to do with the ongoing appearances in the National Assembly by the suspended CBN governor. I will like to state very clearly that this has nothing to do with that. I have given you the background so that you can see that this is the process. And, indeed, we look forward to a situation whereby Mr. Sanusi will continue to assist the legislature in its investigations and will continue to testify because what government is interested in really is transparency and accountability and anything that will further promote that objective is perfectly welcome,” he said.


Notwithstanding, it is common knowledge that Sanusi’s tenure as governor of the CBN has been characterised by controversial statements which transcend banking, politics, power and religion. Sanusi, has over the years, projected an image of an anti-graft banker, activist, reformer and crusader against graft and waste in government, as well as the financial sector. The latest of his controversies over the NNPC remittance is only one of such. What perhaps makes Sanusi himself a suspect in the matter is that before the latest figure of oil revenue was put at $20 billion, Sanusi had written a letter to President Jonathan alleging that the sum of $49.8 billion was outstanding. The allegation caused a lot of furore and within a space six months, he changed the figure to $12.8 billion and finally, $20billion.

Even when the NNPC claimed that a substantial part of the figures he quoted went into subsidising consumption of kerosene for Nigerian households, he did not relent because, according to him, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had directed, in 2009, that subsidy on kerosene be stopped. But President Jonathan denied the claim during the media chat. As vice-president to the late president, Jonathan said he was there when the presidential order was given. He said: “I was there when it all happened. When crude oil prices fell drastically in 2008 to $48 per barrel, we wanted to use that opportunity to fully deregulate the sector. But Labour moved against it and we suspended action. What we only succeeded in doing was to reduce the pump price of petrol to N65 from N70. There was no directive to stay action on the matter.”

In any case, despite his sensitive position, Sanusi appears to thrive on controversy. In 2011, the CBN boss incurred the wrath of the National Assembly when, at the 7th convocation lecture of the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, he  alleged that 25 percent of the country’s annual overhead was  spent on the federal legislators. “If you look at the budget, the bulk of government’s revenue expenditure is on overheads. That is a big problem; 25 percent of overheads of the federal government go to the National Assembly. We need power. We need infrastructure. So we need to start looking at the structure of expenditure and make it more consistent with the development initiative of the country,” he said.

The National Assembly members were embarrassed by the opprobrium Sanusi’s lecture attracted to them. The Senate invited the CBN governor to appear before its Committee on Appropriation to defend himself. If the Senator Iyiola Omisore committee had expected the CBN governor to deny his statement, it was mistaken. After being grilled by the senators for more than four hours, Sanusi stood his ground. “By my upbringing, if I’m wrong, I don’t need to be told to come and say I’m wrong and I would apologise. By my nature, if I am not convinced that I’m wrong, I do not apologise and this is really where the point is,” he told the committee members.

According to him, “a professor in some universities earns just N400,000 per month yet these men who barely finished school earn this much all in the name of lawmaking. I wish to encourage Nigerians to continue fighting this doom that has befallen our economy so that one day, a drastic action will be taken by courageous Nigerians like Sanusi.” In June 2011 Sanusi unfolded the bank’s agenda on Islamic banking, but unlike in the jumbo pay controversy, where he received the support of Nigerians, Sanusi’s insistence on Islamic banking divided the country along religious lines. While the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, opposed his plan, Muslims groups gave him their backing. However, when the fuel subsidy removal debate began, Sanusi was not left out of it. Amid protests against the removal, he said on January 5, 2012: “The limited resources of government should be allocated to support production, especially if we are running a budget deficit. We cannot keep borrowing to support conspicuous consumption. We cannot even begin to do this if 30 percent of government expenditure is on fuel subsidy, if out of the balance, 70 percent is recurrent spending, 10 percent is for debt servicing, 10 percent goes to the Niger Delta and only 10 percent is for capital expenditure.”


While Nigerians were still battling with the fuel subsidy problem, Sanusi ignited another ‘fire’ when, on January 27, 2012, the Kano prince linked the activities of the militant Islamic sect, Boko Haram, with the 13 percent derivation fund being given to oil-producing states. As if that was not bad enough, he made a donation of N100 million on behalf of the CBN to victims of the January 20, 2012, bomb explosions in Kano, in which about 185 people were killed.

Before the Kano incident, the sect had carried out similar operations in Borno, Yobe, Niger, and Adamawa states, but all these did not receive the sympathy of the CBN boss. But when Nigerians started to criticise  his lack of sympathy towards other Boko  Haram victims,, Sanusi then went to St. Theresa’s  Catholic Church, Madala, in Niger State, where he donated N25 million on behalf of the CBN to the bomb blast victims there.

Sanusi also stirred up another controversy when he announced plans to introduce the N5,000 note to the economy after reportedly obtaining approval from President Jonathan. The decision was widely condemned by Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who argued that it would stimulate inflation. Besides, it was the time campaign for a cashless economy was beginning to gain ground. The public outcry against the proposed currency helped to kill the plan.

 Sanusi’s proclivity to stir up  controversy with his provocative statements became manifest even when he was undergoing  screening at the floor of the Senate in June 2009. The first person to come under his attack was the late President Yar’Adua, the very person who nominated him for the post. He took a swipe at his seven-point agenda, describing it as a wasteful exercise. Instead, he suggested that it would be better if the agenda could be compressed into a two-point agenda.

Even though controversial by nature, Sanusi was able to restore confidence in the banking sector. Few days after he took over as the CBN governor, he granted  an interview to the Financial Times of London, in which he explained that he had empanelled a special joint committee of the CBN and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, to conduct a special examination of all the 24 universal banks in the country. In the said interview,  he boasted that some of the bank chiefs would go to jail.

On August 14, 2009, the CBN announced the results of the stress test of 10 banks and determined that five banks were insolvent namely, Oceanic Bank, Union Bank, Afribank, FinBank, and Intercontinental Bank. Consequently, the CBN fired the banks’ chief executive officers, CEOs, and charged them to court for fraudulent activities. He succeeded in jailing Cecilia Ibru, former CEO of the defunct Oceanic Bank. Other CEOs such as Erastus Akingbola of the defunct Intercontinental Bank; Okey Nwosu of FinBank, Sebastian Adigwe of Afribank and Bartholomew Ebong of Union Bank, are still having their days in the law court.

To improve the banks’ liquidity, the CBN, as the lender of last resort, injected N420 billion, an estimated  value of $2.8 billion, into the distressed banks in the form of a subordinated loan. The banks, in aggregate, represented a significant systemic risk as they held approximately 30 percent of the deposits in the Nigerian banking system.

Subsequently, the CBN completed its special examination of the remaining 14 universal banks in Nigeria to determine their solvency. As a result of this audit, on October 3, 2009, the CBN dismissed the CEOs of three additional insolvent banks namely Bank PHB, Spring Bank, and Equatorial Trust Bank, and injected an additional N200 billion into them. According to Sanusi, “We had to move in to send a strong signal that such recklessness on the part of bank executives will no longer be tolerated.”

Many senior bank officials faced charges that included fraud, lending to fake companies, giving loans to companies they had  personal interest in and conspiring with stockbrokers to boost share prices. In September 2009, he said that 15 of the then 24 Nigerian banks might survive the reform in the banking industry. In another wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times of London, in December 2009, Sanusi defended the extensive reforms that he had initiated since assuming office. He noted that there was no choice but to attack the many powerful and interrelated vested interests who were exploiting the financial system.

He did not stop with the CEOs of banks. He also warned bank debtors to pay up what they owed otherwise  he would publish their names in the press. True to his promise, in an unprecedented move, Sanusi published a list of the names of debtors of non-performing loans  Nigerian banks.


Apparently disturbed by his actions, some Nigerians alleged that his actions amounted to witch hunting of bank directors and chief executives. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, former national security adviser to  late President Yar’Adua, told a seminar workshop of newly appointed ministers of the administration, that Sanusi’s reforms had damaged economic activities in the banking sector to the detriment of the larger society. “Only a few banks were penalised for what every bank seems to be doing,” he said.

In February 2010, Sanusi said his blueprint for reforming the Nigerian financial system was built around four pillars of enhancing the quality of banks, establishing financial stability, enabling healthy financial sector evolution and ensuring that the financial sector contributes to the real economy. His radical approach in implementing the blueprint, no doubt, pitched him against some powerful interests. But he soldiered on. Besides, there is hardly any policy of national importance that Sanusi has not made an input in a controversial manner.

As a reform-minded governor, the CBN under Sanusi  introduced a lot of reforms in the banking industry. He introduced limited tenure for bank chief executives and executive directors, issued new guidelines on automated teller machines that focused on technology specification, deployment, operations, security, maintenance, dispute resolutions, liability shift, regulatory monitoring and penalties for defaulters. The CBN set a new timetable for publication of bank results; introduced fresh directives on cash withdrawal and national account numbering.  Another plus  in his  score card is the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, established by the CBN in 2011 through an Act of the National Assembly. AMCON acquired loans valued at over N1.2 trillion, and further injected N1.6 trillion to retrieve additional non-performing loans in banks. This uncommon feat was achieved through the Bankers’ Committee which contributed 0.3 percent of its members’ annual profits  to the project while the CBN committed N500 billion over a span of 10 years.

Whatever the government may decide to do to Sanusi after the FRCN investigation, the controversial timing of his suspension is bound to continue to generate mixed reactions across the country. Immediately the suspension was announced, the House of Representatives, after a heated debate, passed a motion condemning the action and vowed to probe the circumstances surrounding it. Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House, said on Sunday, February 23, that the suspension of Sanusi as the CBN governor could hurt the nation’s economy. According to him, the suspension was capable of sending “wrong signals” to international investors about Nigeria’s financial institutions. “Well, whether Sanusi’s suspension is lawful, legal or illegal, the personality involved has told everybody that he is going to court and I believe that he is already in court on that suspension. On the implications for the economy, I’m not an economist but I personally feel that it will definitely send wrong signals to investors. This is because you need to have confidence in the financial institutions, particularly the independence of the financial institutions of a country, before investors will consider such a country worthy of their investments. So, I have my concern about that,” Tambuwal said.

The All Progressives Congress, APC, has described the suspension as “patently illegal, poorly thought-out and in bad taste,” noting that it would definitely have negative consequences for the nation’s economy. Lai Mohammed, interim national publicity secretary of the party, said the action was the clearest indication yet that President Jonathan, whose body language “does not abhor corruption, is willing to silence any whistle-blower, no matter his or her status. Irrespective of the tepid and unconvincing denial by the presidency, it is clear that the main reason the presidency moved against Sanusi was because he blew the lid on the 20 billion dollars funds which the NNPC allegedly failed to remit to the Federation Account. Fortunately, discerning Nigerians are not hoodwinked by the Presidency’s choreographed mudslinging against a whistle blower, and the sponsored campaign that amounts to shooting the messenger just because his message is not palatable,” he said.

The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, said due process was not followed in the suspension of the CBN governor. The Forum, cautioned the presidency to ensure that no harm was done to Sanusi. Muhammad Ibrahim, national publicity secretary, ACF, said the forum deliberated extensively on the suspension and resolved that the federal government erred. “ACF wishes to remind the Federal Government that only the Senate has the power to dismiss or remove the Central Bank Governor with a two-thirds majority vote following due process. This action of government has negative implications on transparency and good governance, it negates the principle of separation of powers, it also shows that the government has already decided to sack him. ACF wishes to advise the government and all concerned to avoid doing anything that will tarnish Nigeria’s image and refrain from exposing Nigeria to ridicule at  international level. ACF wishes to express concern about the personal security and safety of Mallam Sanusi as it has been reported that his passport has been seized and the security details attached to him withdrawn,” Ibrahim said.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, has similarly condemned Sanusi’s suspension. Speaking, on Sunday, February 23, during a service at the Christ Church, Port Harcourt, Amaechi said President Jonathan did not have power to suspend the CBN boss. “He knows that nothing will happen and that was why he took that action. So, I think the preachers should begin to preach what we call the liberation theology. You (church leaders) are supposed to have more responsibilities to hold government accountable,” he said.


On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has  warned that the suspension of Sanusi must not be politicised by the political class, especially by the opposition. The party said the suspended Sanusi has nothing to fear if his hands are clean and if he has no skeleton in his cupboard. Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the party, said the issues leading to Sanusi’s suspension strictly bordered on the management of the nation’s economy. Metuh who urged Nigerians to disregard those attempting to politicise or introduce sentiments into the matter, said, the PDP has “implicit confidence in President Jonathan and his efforts to ensure the stability and growth of the economy,” adding that the decision was in the best interest of the nation.

The party also dismissed insinuations that the suspension was aimed at silencing a whistle blower and promoting corruption, adding that, “after a thorough analysis, it was clear that the decision was in tandem with the commitment of the Federal Government to safeguard the CBN and the entire financial sector from abuses.” The PDP said the findings of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria had revealed series of administrative recklessness in the CBN which are “very weighty and cannot be swept under the carpet of politics and sentiments.”

Adebayo Adeleke, general secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN, said Sanusi’s tenure as the CBN governor was characterised by controversy. He said that Sanusi’s tenure should be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He said Sanusi’s tenure at the CBN has been one of the most eventful in the history of the institution. According to Adeleke, Sanusi has proven to be a major departure from the reticent behaviour of most central bank leaders throughout the world. It is not for nothing that leaders of the treasuries all over the world are reticent when engaged by the media. “My view is that Sanusi’s conduct as the CBN governor should not become the standard for future governors of the CBN. The CBN governor should be a professional with the appropriate temperament and disposition that the office requires, in addition to being an expert in financial and monetary economics,” Adeleke said.

Holding a similar view, Liborous Oshomah, a lawyer, said Sanusi’s tenure as the CBN governor was characterised by crisis and inconsistencies. Oshomah praised Charles Soludo, former CBN governor and Sanusi’s predecessor, for managing challenges without raising alarms. He stressed that many of the decisions taken by Sanusi, while in office, were controversial. He said his tenure also witnessed crisis in the banking sector which resulted in several banks folding up and thousands of workers being laid off.

On the inconsistency which trailed the figures released by the CBN on the NNPC missing money, Oshomah asked why it took Sanusi so long to raise the alarm and also faulted inconsistencies in the figures disclosed. “I think all of this should have been done underground so when you come out with your figures, people would solidly believe you, stand behind you and say that look this man knows what he’s talking about. But the way he went about it showed that all of a sudden, the amount went from $49 to 10 billion. Ten billion dollars  is much, I agree, but for somebody at that level, I think once you speak, we ought to believe.” Oshomah agreed with the president that he had the power to suspend Sanusi. He faulted Sanusi for acting as if the CBN was a country on its own and he, the president.

Like Oshomah, Kenneth Odidika, another lawyer, described Sanusi as a “very brilliant man who seemed not to appreciate the enormity of the responsibilities of the office he occupied.” He said the suspended governor was a ‘talkative’ whose good diction and spoken English and musical voice were mere theatrics ‘from Hollywood. “For a central bank governor to be in every forum, talking both about the economy and all things that are not related to  the economy, that was unbecoming of Sanusi, as Central Bank Governor. I could go as far as saying that Sanusi was irresponsible in discharging or not discharging his responsibilities as central bank governor,” Odidika said.

Pat Utomi, director of Lagos Business School, said the reckless actions and comments by the suspended  CBN governor all through his tenure indicate that he lacked the essential qualities to occupy the office. He said Sanusi should never have been appointed as a CBN governor in the first place. “It should not have happened. Sanusi’s appointment was wrong in the first place. He was not suitable for the job. CBN governors all over the world are men of great discretion in actions, pronouncements and deeds,” he said.

The prince of Kano holds a BSc and MSc in Economics from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1981 and 1983 respectively. He lectured briefly at the university in the Department of Economics between 1983 and 1985 before joining Icon (Merchant Bank) Limited as senior manager. He left the bank for a bachelor’s degree  programme in Sharia and Islamic Studies at the International University, Khartoum, Sudan, between 1991 and 1997.

On his return to Nigeria, Sanusi joined the United Bank for Africa, UBA, in 1997 as a principal manager in the credit and risk department. He became general manager for risk management in 2005 before he joined First Bank of Nigeria PLC, in 2006. He was elevated to the post of group chief executive officer and managing director of FBN in January 2009, six months later, he was appointed by the late President Yar’Adua to become the CBN governor.

Right from the onset, Sanusi has made  anyone who cares to listen that his ultimate ambition is to become the Emir of Kano. The reason for this passion has connection with the history of his background. Sanusi said he would want to avenge a perceived injustice done to his clan. His grandfather was deposed as the Emir of Kano, a development that earned him untold derision and virtually pushed him to the extreme end of his faith, Islam. At a finance industry event recently, he reiterated his lifelong ambition publicly, irrespective of the fact that there is currently a sitting Emir. This, perhaps, dictates his decision when he said in March 2013 that he would not seek an extension of his tenure as the CBN governor. But whatever becomes of this garrulous Kano prince, his controversial nature is not likely to desert him.


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