When an intelligent and talented person, for whatever reason, decides to divert these attributes to mischief, he can easily fool a nation or perhaps a people. Blessed with good diction, clear articulation of his position, that person becomes very dangerous; doubly so when he holds extreme views on issues such as religion, culture, politics, social and the economic. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi fits the above, the man is brilliant. He is articulate and he has good diction. He captivates his audience when he talks; he has won many laurels on account of his performance. Sanusi seized the consciousness of the nation at his Senate hearing session to confirm his appointment in 2009. Breaking away from tradition, he offered his opinion on the 7-Point Agenda of the Yar Adua-administration. It was candid, brutally frank and straight to the point.
The 7-Point Agenda, he opined, should be condensed to a 3-Point Agenda. His position caused alarm then in government circles and there was talk that the government almost changed its mind about his appointment. But with that, Sanusi served notice to the nation.
His subsequent actions, a few months after coming to office, reinforced the reality that a new sheriff was in town. But Sanusi’s greatest undoing was that he did not know where to draw the line between his job as CBN governor and politics.From his vantage point, and relying CBN Act, he started seeing himself as even more powerful than the President. Well the rest, as they say, is history.
Goaded on by a desperate opposition, strewn together by hatred of a common enemy, this time in President Goodluck Jonathan, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi became delusional of his powers and reach. He would dabble into any issue and offer his opinion unsolicited to wide and wild applause from many of his admirers. Filled with that exaggerated impression of himself, Sanusi, challenged the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to remove him if he could. Well, he was suspended, bringing to an inglorious end an era characterised by decisions, more or less driven by malice, ethnicity and impulsive actions. Indeed, the man who probed others is afraid of being probed.
Finally, some home truth may be coming out for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and his chorus praise singers. No matter how unpalatable it may seem to those who have refused to see how improbable the claim that $49.8 billion was missing, revised to $12 billion, then to N10 billion and finally raised to $20 billion, the report of the Senate committee has dealt a severe blow to Sanusi’s credibility. Though in a poor and drably executed volte face, the Senate committee had come out to say that their report did not indict Sanusi.
Going by what both Senators Ahmed Makarfi and Bukola Saraki said, it was saying a man did not steal six shirts but half a dozen shirts. Reading between the lines, Markafi was actually saying no money was missing. His words: “Where there is dispute was between the figure of $20 billion and $10.8 billion. Even that dispute was not that it was really missing. What has been done with that money? Nobody said at that time that the money was missing.” In another breath, the former Kaduna State governor said: “Out of that $20 billion, over $5 billion was spent on petrol payments. We tried to find out whether that money was appropriated, we checked the budgets of the relevant years and we found out that the National Assembly appropriated the money and it was expended. So if the National Assembly appropriated the money for it to be expended, you cannot talk of money missing.”
It is a shame that the man who should know, did not know, or perhaps chose to play to the gallery what elementary economics and common sense reasoning would lay bare to the ordinary mind as most improbable. Yet, some serious minds took Sanusi’s claim as the gospel truth and went to town with it in their commentary. Merely looking at the figures he was bandying around, one didn’t even need to consult the oracle to know that something just wasn’t right about it when matched with Nigeria’s total earnings from oil per annum and the country’s annual budget.
Now, the Senate committee probing the allegation, which was contained in a letter, Sanusi wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan in September last year, said it could not reconcile how the CBN governor arrived at the said amount.
Specifically, the committee said it found that the CBN, NNPC, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum Resources had reconciled $47 billion of the unaccounted for revenue, which it said had been remitted into the federation account. This report has crushed whatever little respect Sanusi still commanded from his ardent supporters, who for whatever reason, believed he (Sanusi) was a victim of the authority. But unfortunately, what is coming to fore is that those who trusted this man are the real victims here.
They have been taken for a ride by a man whose agenda was miles away from banking into the quicksand of politics and activism. And, from his privileged position and power, he began a crusade of speaking before thinking and shooting before aiming. He conjured outlandish figures to push his agenda, clothed in patriotic garb to undermine the government he was key part of. Now the cookies are crumbling.
Depending on which figure catches the fancy of the commentator or which agenda he was pushing, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s allegation became the linchpin for everyone’s justifiable indignation and outrage. It created a firestorm in the polity only overshadowed now by the tragic abduction of over 200 school girls from a school in the sleepy community of Chibok in the troubled Borno State. The committee’s report stated that the committee could not see how the figure of $49.8 billion was arrived at by the CBN governor for instance.
But for the atmosphere that is fouled with politics and all its trappings and the struggle for power, and in saner climes, Sanusi’s flip-flop with figures was enough to end his career forever. But he became a cult hero to the opposition which latched in on his claim to gain political advantage. Now that it has unraveled, it is doubtful whether the opposition will let-go such prized allegation they had thought would the defining campaign strap-line in the countdown to 2015. Even when his flip-flop on figures undermined his credibility, the opposition didn’t see anything wrong with it.
The APC, never one to miss an opportunity, has been rallying around Sanusi’s claim as if its existence depended on it. For whatever the intentions of those who leaked Sanusi’s letter to the media were, it surely raised the stake as the political realignment for 2015 continued to walk and work itself to frenzy. But for many discerning observers, $49.8 billion, that’s about N8 trillion missing from the federation’s account, was way, way too improbable a claim to be real. But giving Sanusi’s pedigree of brutal frankness, and his exalted position as CBN governor, many reckoned his claim could not just be dismissed with a wave of the hand. They had a point until Sanusi Lamido Sanusi started changing his figures.
His swagger is gone, his arrogance and princely assertiveness has melted, his busy schedule replaced by idleness, the privileges and prestige of his office have disappeared. Although he still tries to put a brave face on his loneliness by cracking jokes, there is a deep, deep sense of melancholy around him. Whether he likes it or not, he is the first CBN Governor to be disgraced out of office. He may be remembered more for this than whatever achievement he had to his name.