Edward Akinlade


In Defence of Performing Public Servants (right of reply)

By Nasir El-Rufai |13 Oct 2012


The article entitled “The Bully Called Sanusi” by my brother - Dele Momodu on yet another brother of mine - Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is as evidently self-contradictory as it lacks objectivity. It also constitutes a disservice to the greater public good as to be expatiated in the course of this submission; hence the necessity for this rejoinder.

Those who know me and read my Friday weekly column in THISDAY Newspaper know how critical I have been of the Jonathan administration, just as I was to its predecessor, the Yar’Adua administration; with the common thread being the lackluster performance of both administrations that has brought our beloved nation to its lowest ebb. Even so, there are exceptional public servants that have performed diligently with high level of intellect, uncommon integrity and outstanding record of public service that must not be rubbished along with the nonperforming administrations. After all, it is objective criticisms that would enable us document and learn from our mistakes; as opposed to wholesale condemnation or blind opposition.


In recent time, such high performing public servants include the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former Minister of Power Professor Bart Nnaji, the Corp Marshall of the FRSC, Osita Chidoka, the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry Ms. Evelyn Oputu and the immediate past Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Dr. Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru; under whose leadership the total revenue generation of FIRS, which is the hallmark of the agency’s functions, grew astronomically from less than N1.2 trillion (about $7.9bn) when she came to office in 2004, to over N4.6 trillion (over $30 billion) in 2011; that is, an unprecedented growth of almost 400 percent before she took an honourable exit!


We are a nation that is desperately in need of good governance, which can only be accomplished when capable, competent and dedicated people with integrity accept the call to public service; be it in an appointive or elective office. This explains why it is a disservice to the greater public good when any performing and decent public servant is unjustly crucified with little if any shred of evidence. I have been a victim, so I feel the pain and anguish of other victims and people who on account of bad press have vouched not to go anywhere near a public office. Such an unjust crucifixion is to be found in “The Bully Called Sanusi”. That it is a crucifixion is incontrovertible, given that the writer started the article with “what seems to be an end to Mallam Sanusi’s reign.” and ended with “by his own feathers, Sanusi is now smitten”! Thus, it only remains to show why the publication is as unjust as it lacks objectivity.


In so doing, I have identified 10 unassailable facts in support of the assertion that Sanusi is a performing public servant who does not deserve to be labelled a bully and crucified; thereby introducing objectivity and elevating this discourse to the level of a meaningful dialogue. After all, William Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice states that “the devil can cite the scripture for his own purpose”; but not so with facts, for they are stubbornly sacred. To be sure, this is not a full endorsement of all the CBN’s policies under Sanusi’s tenure; if only because no one or system is perfect! For instance, the current regime of monetary and fiscal policies leaves much to be desired on the dearth and cost of loanable funds that would engender economic growth. Here we go:


It is not true that Sanusi “fought for total autonomy for the CBN and campaigned vociferously against any form of audit by anyone of his actions as CBN Governor” simply because the subsisting and pertinent Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 (The Act) was enacted on the 25th day of May, 2007; a full two years prior to assumption of office by Sanusi on June 3rd, 2009. Even so, the operational autonomy of the CBN as enshrined in section 1(3) of the Act is in line with international best practice when it states that the “Bank shall be an independent body in the discharge of its functions”. It is accordingly submitted that this provision will not only facilitate the achievement of its mandate but will also engender global stakeholders’ confidence in the institution and the nation at large. Furthermore, the CBN is also required to report its activities to the president and national assembly every year. Unlike most agencies, the CBN’s Annual Reports and Accounts for 2009, 2010 and 2011 were accessed online on the 3rd of October, 2012 in this website: http://www.cenbank.org/documents/reports.asp


The article states on the one hand that “his (Sanusi’s) word was law as everyone feared his tempestuous outbursts” only to state on the other hand that “he did not gauge the mood of his ubiquitous mob who did not subscribe to his N5,000 misadventure. If he read their lips, he would have known he was on his own and would have avoided the risk of dancing in the market place”. Clearly, this is a self-evident contradiction for which no further comment is required; more so that even the false assertion that “he had cashed in on the weakness of the Jonathan administration to run his own parallel government” did not stop President Jonathan from suspending the printing of the N5,000 note.


The statement that “Sanusi had managed to capitalise on the kill-and-go mentality of most Nigerians to win sympathy for his dangerous annihilation of his enemies without caring for the stray bullets that may hit innocent bystanders” does not only beg the question as to who the “enemies” are but it is also a condemnation of the mentality of most Nigerians; which without more defies logic. The illogical statement was exacerbated by the follow on sentence that “some innocent people had their eventful careers terminated by a rampaging bull that was goaded on by a neurotic society and a vindictive population”.


Yet another statement in the article that is as incomprehensible as it is irreconcilable with the fact is “it was so tragic that the warnings of a few of us fell on deaf ears of those who were more interested in the extra-judicial crucifixion of those perceived as rogue bankers”. Truth be told, the fact is that the case against the rogue bankers is neither a mere perception nor an extra-judicial crucifixion as falsely asserted. It is a matter of public record that several of the rogue bankers were prosecuted in courts of competent jurisdiction with sanctions being meted out in accordance with due process. Was it an issue of extra-judicial crucifixion when Cecilia Ibru, the former head of Oceanic Bank was found guilty on three counts of fraud and mismanagement and sentenced to a six-month prison term? Was Erastus Akingbola merely perceived as a rogue banker when a UK High Court found him guilty of sharp practices as the CEO of Intercontinental Bank and ordered him to refund about N165 billion (over US$1 billion)?


Far from giving Sanusi any credit for his credible performance so far as the Governor of CBN, Dele lampooned “he would have fared better as a military dictator than as a sanitary inspector in the cesspool of banking mess”. But based on an objective assessment of his record of performance against the primary functions that the CBN is required to perform, the facts are once again at variance with Dele’s conclusion. Section 2(a) of the Act stipulates that the principal object of the Bank shall be to ensure monetary and price stability. This is informed by the fact that the core function of every Central Bank is the maintenance of price stability. According to data from the World Bank, the country’s annual rates of inflation by way of consumer prices are 11.6%, 11.5%, 13.7% and 10.8% for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively; which clearly is a testimony to the maintenance of price stability from 11.6% in the year prior to Sanusi’s appointment to 10.8% last year in the just over three years that he has been in office.


Another important function of the CBN as mandated in section 2 of the Act is the maintenance of external reserves to safeguard the value of the naira. In this regard, it is instructive to note that between 2007 and 2009, the official naira exchange rate depreciated by more than 15% from an average of 125 naira to about 148 naira to the dollar: whereas between 2009 and 2012, the rate has only lost about 6% of its value. It is currently at about 155 naira to the US dollar. This explains clearly another credible performance that is noteworthy.


Section 2(d) of the Act requires the CBN to promote a sound financial system. To this end, Governor Sanusi sanitized the banking system as previously noted. He also succeeded in establishing the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through an enabling legislation known as the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act 2010; whose sole purpose is the taking over of any loan that poses significant risk to any eligible financial institution i.e. Licensed banks. Eligible loan is defined as a loan that is reasonably expected to be classified as substandard within 3 months or may result in a loss equal to at least 1% of the eligible financial institution’s balance sheet within a period of six months. The AMCON Act is complete with a Schedule that defines the valuation model and the price that AMCON should pay for such delinquent loans.


Better still, Governor Sanusi persuaded the National assembly to enact Banking Sector Resolution Cost Fund Act 2010. The fund was established for the purpose of redeeming debt securities issued by AMCON. The financing of the fund is ingenious with the contribution of about 500 billion naira by the CBN over a 10 year period from 2011-2020; in addition to about 1 trillion naira contribution by all eligible financial institutions of about 30 basis points of their total balance sheet assets over the same period. In effect, our financial system has been stabilised and placed on a sound and solid financial footing that will engender global confidence in the country.


The loss of objectivity in the article was perhaps best manifested with the statement ‘the last straw is the rumor of Sanusi’s presidential ambition which he has since denied’. As if that denial is not sufficient to exonerate Sanusi from the rumor, the writer went further to state ‘denial or not, the Jonathan crew would never close their two eyes again where Sanusi is concerned. And he has become a potential enemy and a marked man whose wings must be clipped’, if this is not inciting and hate mongering insinuation, I am at a loss to understand.


In closing, on the last but not the least point, Dele Momodu should not just take my words in support of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as a performing public servant. For, the Banker- a renowned magazine on global financial intelligence that was established since 1926 and a part of the Financial Times Publications, unanimously recognised him as the Central Bank Governor of the Year 2010, Global and Africa; citing “his radical anti-corruption campaign aimed at saving 24 banks on the brink of collapse and pressing for the managers involved in the most blatant cases of corruption to be charged and, in the case of two senior bankers, imprisoned”.

On a Final Note

Fellow Nigerians, seems the last has not been heard about my most controversial article, titled THE BULLY CALLED SANUSI. I intend to draw the curtain on the hullabaloo with this rejoinder from Nasir El-Rufai who has raised critical issues with my piece. I thank all those who have written for and against in different newspapers and on social media.


Let me note finally that I have taken time to read Nasir El-Rufai and can’t really find answers to the main thrust of my article. All the other public servants mentioned by him did their jobs quietly and when it was time to go, for those who have gone, they did so even more quietly. The same cannot be said of our brother, Sanusi. He wins the medal as the loudest man in government today. I don’t doubt that individually some of his initiatives have been successful. However, collectively they have been haphazard, inherently contradictory and even more worrisome inimical to our economic and social well-being. I am equally concerned about his modus operandi in actualising these programmes.


The Central Bank of Nigeria under him is the only one of its kind in the entire world. American Banks had serious crisis but the American government intervened with minimal collateral damage. Sanusi supposedly rescued the banks at what cost? The economy practically died. Fuel subsidy payments simply quadrupled without CBN abating monumental frauds under its nose. They just paid. AMCON is also on a spending spree and a binge. It has gone way beyond its original budget and still counting. The ‘rescued’ companies are permanently on life-support. Who knows when the machine would be switched off? No one knows how much the CBN treasure chest is or how it is spent. When you eventually ask, all you get is abuse from cronies and acolytes!

We can’t fool all the people all the time!


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