Thursday, March 17, 2016
NAIRA'S FLOP IS DOOMSDAY FORETOLD - JOSEF OMOROTIONMWAN
EVERY corruption case in Nigeria has an expiry date. This is one clear area where we shall consistently return to His Eminence, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who we think can author a bestseller any day on the subject, being one Nigerian who thoroughly understands the Nigerian psyche and knows exactly when to do what. Truly, from very early in life, we have been indoctrinated into thinking that it is wrong to do any deep narrative on kings and the dead. While the latter must be allowed to rest in peace, the former deserve honour as God’s representatives on earth. Were these absolutely true, those volumes on the enlightened depots of centuries past would not have appeared. The Bible, which mainly chronicles the activities of the dead would never have been written.
For us, the King deserves deep reverence but he must be talked about. Those of them who have not respected the law must face the law. It is too soon to forget how Sanusi, as the immediate-past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, turned that body into a Republic within a Republic. Indeed, the collapse of the Naira today is doomsday foretold. We saw it coming. You can’t run the CBN with the type of impunity with which Idi-Amin ran the economy of Uganda and not expect the type of disaster we have in our hands today. Students of history will also easily remember that the Deutschemark suffered the same fate in post World-War II Germany.
Again, Sanusi represents an archetype of the average Nigerian in authority. Space will only permit us to provide a synopsis of some of his deeds: In about 63 “intervention projects” mainly in Northern Nigeria and sparsely in the South, Sanusi turned CBN into a Father Christmas by doling out about N163 billion from the public till without any legislative approval and authorisation in utter defiance of the provisions of Sections 80(1) and 80(2) of our 1999 Constitution, which deal with issues of revenue and expenditure of the Federation. In August 2009, the CBN, under Sanusi’s watch pumped N400 billion of public fund into bailing out Afribank, Intercontinental Bank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank. The CBN single-handedly decided which of the commercial banks manifested distress signs and how much to give to them, without recourse to any legislative approval.
In the eye of the Financial Reporting Council, FRC, the CBN under Sanusi’s watch embarked on a most reckless spending spree, the type of squander-mania never imagined in the history of the CBN, including N38.23 billion alleged missing in 2013. This amount was alleged to have been paid to the CBN subsidiary, MINT, but it never got to its destination. In 2011, CBN was said to have paid N38 billion to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, for the printing of banknotes, when in the entire year, the total turnover of NSPMC was only N29 billion! In the same year, 2011, CBN allegedly claimed paying N511 million, N425 million and N1 billion to Emirate, Wing and Associated Airlines respectively, for currency distribution nationwide. While Emirate had no local charter service, Wing Airline was not even registered in Nigeria and Associated Airline had a total turnover of less than N1 billion in that year. The exhaustive list of rots in the CBN, which cannot be contained here is perhaps an arm-long.
Yet, in the process, Sanusi had an avalanche of superior and subordinate officers around him. If we say Sanusi is guilty as charged, it simply follows that those who were paid to supervise him must be ten times guilty! From a distance, we kept reminding Nigerians that Sanusi was operating a Republic within a Republic. We wrote several articles on the issue, including “Still Celebrating Profligacy” and “Who Is Now the President?” as far back as 2011 and 2013 respectively but Sanusi was evidently untouchable. If all these could happen in a small CBN, located at the city centre, you can imagine what happened in a bigger and clumsier place like NNPC, located largely in the creeks. And if Sanusi was untouchable as a public servant, who now wants to go to his new giddy heights? Long live the King! We expressed our initial concern on the Sanusi escapade when we asked in this column, “Who were Sanusi’s Supervisors?”
It takes more than one to be corrupt. Corruption is a chain, which like any other chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. Sanusi operated under Presidents and Ministers; he operated under a full-fledged National Assembly with its numerous bogus committees; and he operated literally with thousands of Nigerians who saw crime and didn’t call police! With Sanusi out of the system, the same people who facilitated his deeds are still in the system, doing for other corrupt elements what they did for Sanusi. And so, the chain continues. In Sanusi’s years, where there was no immediate cash to carry out his escapade, he proceeded to print the banknotes. Who, then, is still wondering why the Naira today is barely worth the paper on which it is printed? For all we know, a nation’s economy is like a fowl – it comes home to roost!
Until we evolve a system where every offender has a taste of his poison through prison experience, we are not fighting any corruption. That system stands on sinking sand, where at the end of tenure, a governor heads for jail and the legislators who consistently gave him his annual appropriations walk our streets in freedom when the approval of this year’s appropriation presupposes that legislators are satisfied with what the governor did with the previous year’s approval. What else is the essence of the legislative oversight of the administration? Yesterday, it was Sanusi; today, it is Dasuki; but between Sanusi and Dasuki, there are at least a thousand Nigerians who should not be walking our streets in freedom – if we are really serious about fighting corruption.