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By Chukwudi Nweje
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has a propensity for being in the news especially when monetary matters are involved. As helmsman of the apex bank which core mandates include ensuring monetary and price stability; maintaining foreign reserves to safeguard the international value of the national currency while providing economic and financial advice to the Federal Government he has often incurred the anger of many. For instance, when in late 2010, he said that about 25% of the annual budget was spent on the National Assembly; the legislators attacked him insisting that his calculations were wrong. Then again on September 25, 2013, he wrote a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, alleging that revenue from crude oil sales totalling $49.8bn (about N8trillion) representing about 76 per cent of the total crude oil revenues from January 2012 to July 2013 was missing. The letter was later leaked to the press, causing mass hysteria regarding the level of corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Again on this allegation, Omar Farouk Ibrahim, General Manager, Media Relations Department of the NNPC attacked the CBN Governor saying he does not understand the workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the federation account.
The CBN Governor is again in the news. Contrary to reports in the media that President Goodluck Jonathan has directed him to resign for allegedly leaking his letter regarding the ‘missing’ oil revenue, Sanusi whose tenure as the apex bank helmsman expires on June 2 this year has vowed he will would remain in office till that date. Reports have been rife that he had been asked to proceed on terminal leave on or before March. But, the former Managing Director of First Bank who was appointed to head the CBN on June 3, 2009 has said he is shelving his pre-retirement leave and would remain in office till the expiration of his term. CBN spokesman Mr. Ugo Okoroafor confirmed that Sanusi would no longer proceed on terminal leave at a “family meeting” with the bank’s staff in Abuja after a news conference on the execution of the bank’s Payment System Vision 2020 (PSV 2020) strategy.
There is no doubt that Sanusi’s letter provoked lots of reactions. While civil society organisations which have been canvassing for a more transparent NNPC laud it for blowing the lid off the fleece in the organisation, others had accused him of deliberate act of misinformation and over estimation. However, others have argued that if it had not been for the letter, the reconciliation meetings between critical stakeholders may never have held.
Olusegun Adeniyi, one time aide to late President Umaru Yar’Adua argued in his Colum The Verdict published in the January 9, 2014 edition of ThisDay that “the suggestion that we should dismiss the whole issue because “only” $12 billion or $10.8 billion is yet to be “reconciled” as against the figure of $49.8 billion quoted by Sanusi is most unfortunate.” He further said that “if just one dollar of public money cannot be accounted for, it is an issue, or at least should be an issue, for any serious society.”
The Presidential order for Sanusi has meanwhile been condemned by legal experts who argue that President Jonathan has no such power. This they say is because the CBN Act is explicit on how the CBN Governor is to be removed from office. Section 11(2f) of the CBN Act 2007, says: “The Governor, Deputy Governor or Director shall cease to hold office in the Bank if he: (a) becomes of unsound mind or, owing to ill health, is incapable of carrying out his duties; (b) is convicted of any criminal offence by a court of competent jurisdiction except for traffic offences or contempt proceedings arising in connection with the execution or intended execution of any power or duty conferred under this Act or the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act; (c) is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties under this Act; (d) is disqualified or suspended from practicing his profession in Nigeria by order of a competent authority made in respect of him personally; (e) becomes bankrupt; (f) is removed by the President: Provided that the removal of the Governor shall be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed.”