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Published On: Wed, Feb 26th, 2014

…The cost-benefit analysis

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By Osahon uwagboe

The suspension of the Central Bank of Nigeria governor Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has left a sore taste in the mouth as it concerns the independence of institutions in the country and the fight against corruption. Regardless of whether the removal of Sanusi is procedural or not, the question: is it right for Sanusi to leave office now or what value is contained in the decision to suspend Sanusi now? I mean, Sanusi was expected to leave office June, 2014, just some three months away.

Now, here is one that seems to be interested in the fighting graft and indeed wants sharp practices exposed. And when one considers the antecedents of Sanusi, it is clear that he has a knack or stock in trade for insistence on what he considers to be right. This he did creditably well, when he single handedly cleaned the Augean stable of the banking sector in Nigeria when he came in 2009. This cleansing work of Sanusi brought so much sanity to the system that he earned for himself the Banker of the Globe in 2010. Therefore, regardless of some of his utterances which tended to border on his personality, he was celebrated as one who saved the county’s banks from collapse.

Beyond that period of the consolidation of the banking sector which saw many of the high and mighty weeded out of the banking arena in the country-Sanusi had gone on to introduce a number of things such as the cashless banking system and more recently biometric identity system; all of these all geared towards preventing the system from fraud, etc. Also, he blew the whistle when he thought it was necessary, for instance that the National assembly was gulping 25 percent of the nation’s budget. But he seemed to have failed to blow the whistle when it was clear that there was monumental fraud at the NNPC. And for this many have said that Sanusi is not sincere at all. That he romanced the government when he thought it convenient. Thus, they have concluded that he exposed frauds only when it was convenient to do so. This conclusion they have reached again concerning the recent exposures about the NNPC. They wonder where has been since the period when the NNPC accounts had not been audited-from2005. They mean, he was expected to have spoken up long ago, because he has been in office since2009. This is the reason why they think that somehow he is playing out the script of APC to expose the present administration for its ineptitude.

Nevertheless, the present administration seems to deem this the right moment to remove Sanusi from office when he was trying to unravel shady deals that have happened in the NNPC and his insistence that answers be provided . Now, I don’t seem to see anything unethical about someone taking a stand and digging his heels on this matter. On the contrary, I think such a position – which stems from a strong personality is laudable and for which we are grateful to have had Sanusi for this long. I mean how many people are bold enough to take the decisions he took? Come to think of it, the people involved would be no small fries; moreover, they would naturally not have their names dragged in the mud if not for Sanusi.

I beg to differ with federal government on the sacking of Sanusi. I mean, whatever the recklessness they claim he has got involved in, obviously it would not have just started. In any case, why did they not mention the allegations against Sanusi earlier than now so that Nigerians could do their own checks? This is such a sensitive matter that can easily be read as victimization against one who sought to expose fraud in government, as it coincides with the present allegation of monies that were involved in deals. Thus, the government should have treaded softly about it.

Nevertheless, if the government really felt that Sanusi should have been removed, then it should only be if the allegations were so grave as to put the economy of the country in peril. I mean, we should have considered the practicalities of the entire matter in terms of benefit-cost analysis. Therefore, we should be asking whether the cost of Sanusi’s allegations exceeds the benefits of having him serve out his term as CBN governor and insisting that the NNPC open up concerning the shady deals Sanusi alleged. This is what the government should do. Otherwise, it would be clear that the Jonathan Administration is inept. If it is serious about fighting corruption in public life, it should take up the Sanusi challenge. How many Nigerians are bold enough to speak up on corruption in high places? This is the reason why Sanusi is such a blessing to this country in terms of the courage to speak.

Let us avoid getting entangled in the discussions as to whether it was right for the President to suspend Sanusi or not, etc. This would perhaps make us not see the wood for the trees. I mean, we should just get down to the practicalities of the whole matter-nuts and bolts-and stop all the theorizing about the legality or illegality of the President’s decision. This will not serve us much good. We need to always join the exigency of the matter to how expedient it is for us. Otherwise, we may just be throwing away the baby with the bath water. That is, whatever the allegations against him in terms of financial recklessness, etc. would perhaps not be as monumental as the exposure of the corruption in the NNPC in a sector that has brought this country to a place of eating grass. After all, Sanusi can still be investigated after leaving office, but one to stand up to speak up against fraud in the NNPC scarcely exists.

Osahon Uwagboe is on linkedIn

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