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[Opinion] Between Sanusi’s Megalomania And The Evil Spirit At The Mint

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By Theophilus Ilevbare

2204N.-Sanusi-Lamido-Sanusi

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the volcano as he is now fondly called in some quarters, had a quick succession of eruptions in the past few weeks as he made good use of the autonomy of the CBN to fire his salvo of economic policy razzmatazz, not sparing anyone from the legislature to the hardest hit, the civil servants, calling for 50 percent reduction of federal workers and other apparatus of government, as a means of reducing the cost of governance. His diagnosis was right but his prescription not just defective but insolent with a sprinkling of megalomania.
The CBN Boss, with an uncanny reputation for hitting up the polity, had in the past stirred the hornet’s nest with issues such as the contentious Islamic banking debate that polarized the Nation along religious lines, his aborted N5, 000 note introduction. He facilitated the donation of N100 million on behalf of the CBN to victims of the Boko Haram menace in his state of origin, Kano, attracting criticism from the media and the National Assembly, adamantly maintaining it was not the first time the CBN will be assisting victims of disasters. He had bitter run-ins with the National Assembly for calling for a reduction of their salaries and emoluments by at least 25 percent. The law makers had at a point muted a review of the CBN Act to strip the CBN governor of his autonomy.
Widespread reactions trailed his latest comments that Nigeria cannot make any meaningful progress, economic growth or develop infrastructure if it continued with a recurrent expenditure of 70 per cent. He was pummeled from all sides. The organized Labour and the NLC described the ‘loquacious’ CBN governor as a ‘hollow economist’ and one whose policy proposal is anti-people and ruinous to the Nigerian economy. The Labour therefore called for his immediate sack. His familiar foes, the law makers were not left out in pouring vitriolic attack, describing him as an ‘economist of turbulence’. A deluge of opinion from Nigerians joined the discourse that ensued.
Discarding Sanusi’s recommendation in total would be throwing the baby away with the bath water, certain aspects of Sanusi’s comments need be given a serious thought. Truly the executive and other apparatus of government must reduce its overhead cost by even more than 50 percent, the profligacy in government must stop, though Sanusi failed to add this. Nigerians had almost forgotten that Jonathan’s inauguration ceremony alone gulped about 5billion. Investigations revealed that the President and his entourage have spent not less than N3.35bn on foreign trips since 2010. Nigeria, a country without a Nigeria carrier spends an estimated N9.08bn annually on the Presidential Air Fleet of 10 aircrafts which is the third largest fleet, in queue behind commercial airlines with Arik Air the largest in the country with 23 aircrafts. How about the billions allocated for ‘refreshment’ in the Presidential Villa? The recent N2bn budget for the construction of the Vice-President’s official residence and another N2.2bn for a banquet hall for the President are landmark achievements of a government renowned for its culture of profligacy. This legacy of waste, impunity and fleecing of our commonwealth by past and present administration at all levels of government is what the CBN governor should be talking about. There is also the monster of corruption that needs to be tackled headlong. Indeed the private sector should be engaged to handle industrialisation and manage government owned businesses, the local governments and civil service should as a matter of urgency be repositioned for better service delivery. Inasmuch as the CBN governor’s submission was correct, in some areas, his implementation strategy is defective.
The dust of Sanusi’s latest controversy had not settled when news broke of the theft at the Mint! Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, is currently embroided in the mysterious disappearance of N2.1 Billion in N1000 denominations from the watch of its officials. Though there are conflicting figures of the missing sum but it is inconsequential, a theft of N20 at the mint, a place meant to be secured and immune to theft, should be considered a serious dent on the image of Nigeria, an all new level of fleece now extended to the stealing of newly minted notes.
The CBN governor as the head of the company board, scurried to a meeting with the board of the Mint company to investigate the magical disappearance of such colossal sum. The outcome so far has been the order to proceed on leave with immediate effect handed to the chief executive and the head of security of the NSPMC.
Contrary to reports of absence of Close Circuit Television Cameras known as CCTV at the NSPMC, investigation revealed the in-house administration of security of the premises and products is detailed, strict and computerised. Both physical and Materials’ security of the premises is ensured through the use of the most up-to-date electronic surveillance equipment, supported by adequate and well-trained security staff. Attributing the ease with which the funds developed wings to the absence of CCTV is a ploy to cover up the circumstances and personnel behind the brazen robbery.
The resurgence of sleaze in a sensitive place where banknotes are minted with top-notch security gadgets, is unimaginable, condemnable in strong terms and a mystery that must be unraveled. Regrettably, it is coming at a time when government officials are still protesting the Transparency International corruption index of the county. Nigerians hope it is not swept under the carpet again as the appropriate authorities must do more than the usual response of invitation for questioning by the House of Representatives, Police and the EFCC.
The Minister of state for Power, Hajiya Zainab Kuchi was quoted as saying evil spirits were preventing Nigeria from achieving sustainable electricity, she also recommended exorcism – “We must resolve to jointly exorcise the evil spirit behind this darkness”. It became obvious other sectors needed exorcism as well. The disappearance without trace of a sum that would have needed three bullion vans to move presents a quintessential scenario where evil spirits are at work. The earlier we collectively start to exorcize these powers that be the better.
Nigerians will not forget in a hurry how Mallam Sanusi teamed up with the duo of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Mrs Deziani Alison-Madueke to remove fuel subsidy, partially, in January 2012. The National Assembly through its findings discovered that whereas N245 billion was appropriated in 2011 for fuel subsidy, the Central Bank illegally paid out N2.3 trillion to the NNPC and other fuel importers on the recommendation of the Federal Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources. The CBN at a time paid about N20bn ($133m) for a piece of land, originally owned by a government agency, NITEL, to build “a world class conference centre”. It would have been expected that in line with his recommendations, the workforce of the CBN should have been pruned down from 5,022 but instead within three years of his assumption in office the CBN employed about 1,000 people. It is also public knowledge that last year the CBN spent N300 billion, no where close to N150billion of the National Assembly. In the light of the misdeeds of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, his call for the sack of civil servants as a way of improving the economy and the recent theft at the Mint, he must realize that the light that shines farthest must first shine brightest at its base.

 

theophilus@ilevbare.com

http://ilevbare.com

Twitter: @tilevbare

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Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Opinion

Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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Dethroned Monarch, Sanusi

We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Opinion

Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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Emir Sanusi

By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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