By Bola Oyelere
Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was in trouble with the Presidency. This much, everyone knew. The President had allegedly asked him to resign a few weeks ago when the furore over diversion of funds by the NNPC apparently reached very embarrassing heights for the government. Sanusi reportedly declined, stressing that only the National Assembly could remove him. Seeing as his tenure was even going to end in June, many reasoned the Presidency would tolerate him till then. But since then, there were tell-tales s that more trouble was looming in the horizon for Sanusi but no one could really have guessed he would be removed in the way he was.
Until the Presidency decided to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it, many hailed him as the great reformer. The messiah Nigeria’s banking industry had been waiting for. They think he has done a great service to this nation at grave personal risk and should be applauded. They think he has stood up for the people, the widows and orphans who take their money to the banks and sometimes have to watch the collapse of those same banks through the recklessness of bank administrators.
Indeed, any close watcher could see something was essentially not right with our banks. In the middle of a global economic recession, Nigerian banks stood out as supposedly viable entities, immune and far from the global shock. We kept being reassured about the healthy state of our banks. Bank executives jetted all over the world in private jets, middle level bank executives flew first class and went on holidays at the best hotels in Dubai. Sanusi knew where exactly the dead bodies were buried and when he became governor, he dug them out.
His tsunami showed up so many big names in society as bank debtors who owed great sums of money; and not a few of these loans were granted in circumstances far out of compliance with the basic principles of credit. Today, banks are a lot more careful about how they spend depositors’ money. His tenure as CBN governor saw many highly controversial statements coming from him. He was always in the news; sometimes for the wrong reasons and sometimes for the right ones, depending on what side you were looking from. One thing stood out though: this was one man who was not afraid to stir the hornet’s nest.
It therefore came as no major surprise when Sanusi wrote a letter to the President in September, 2013, alleging gross impropriety in the financial management of the NNPC. There has been a lot of back and forth since then. Accusations, denials and counter-accusations have been flying all over the place. Through it all, Sanusi has stuck to his guns, maintaining that the NNPC was creaming off money belonging to the Nigerian state. To quickly get to the meat of this article, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was suspended (or to dispense with euphemisms, sacked) last Thursday by the President; right in the thick of the controversy his allegations have generated.
Sanusi is not a saint and would definitely have his own peccadilloes but the fact that he has been removed as CBN governor at a time when there’s so much noise about the revelations of massive corruption in government shows a government that is ready to rubbish those who rise up to fight corruption. We have a government that would label right as wrong and wrong as right, black as white and white as black. It disgraces the role models and lifts up the thieves and scoundrels. And this repeats itself all too often in the Jonathan administration.
There is one example I shouldn’t forget. It’s about a certain two-faced lachrymose quisling of a presidential aide who before joining government was well known for his cutting and deeply incisive editorials, speaking out against government high-handedness and injustice. He is today busy defending government policies and actions with arguments that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else but he and his new paymasters. The reader may ask where this is going. It is quite simple.
The children, teenagers and adolescents are watching events as they unfold. They see and hear about all these contradictions. There is no way that the value system of these young, impressionable minds would not be affected by the corruption in society. When young ones are still grappling with differentiating right from wrong, what our society pushes at them is that honesty doesn’t pay; that if you’re corrupt and in government or a crony of the government, you won’t be punished; that if you speak out against injustice, you’ll be disgraced and ridiculed; that if you accuse the government of wrongdoing, you’ll be punished and no one will come to your aid; that if you protest against unfavourable policies, your democratically elected government will roll out military tanks to fight you. Is this how we want to define our times? Many kids born in the ‘80s grew up believing that if one wanted to rule this country, all one had to do was join the armed forces. The military was running the country and officers seemed to be able to get whatever they wanted and do anything they wanted to do. Impunity seemed attractive. The military was attractive.
However, kids of that generation were also privileged to see patriotic men and women rise up to wrest our country away from the hands of the military. The notion that power could only come from and rest in the hands of the military was forever destroyed. We have a lot to thank those fine ladies and gentlemen for and I think we owe it to them, ourselves and those coming behind us to set and get our values right again in this country. We must let the children know that hard work, honesty, uprightness, consistency and obeying the law are not outdated. A lot of damage has been done already but we’re not at the bottom of the league of the doomed and a lot can still be done to salvage the image of our country and save the coming generation from developing warped values.
Bola Oyelere via email@example.com