Sanusi: Is Jonathan now ready to fight corruption?



President Goodluck Jonathan is a very patient man.  Everyone expected him to sack Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) some months ago.  But the president, in the words of James Hadley Chase, has the patience of a vulture.  He can wait on his target for 20 years until it enters the trap.

Sanusi in his executive rascality has done irreversible damage to the ring of pen robbers in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).  Nigeria may never recover anything from the trillions of naira stolen in the guise of kerosene subsidy.
However, Sanusi’s loquacious approach to central banking has exposed to Nigerians the level of stealing that has kept Nigeria perpetually poor.

On the other hand, the presidency’s tacit connivance with the NNPC in ripping off the nation has inadvertently exposed the monumental inequities of a central bank governor that has sent some bank chief executives to jail for fraudulent transactions that may pale into insignificance when compared to that of the police man of the industry himself.

The significance of the macabre dance playing out in the country’s public service is that corruption, the country’s arch enemy may be sailing perilously close to a cataclysmic precipice.  We have reached a point where people with very dirty hands are defying the golden rule and going to equity not minding whether they themselves would be exposed.

Farouk Lawan of the dollar-in-cap bribery thriller exposed the chilling rip off of Nigeria by a handful of politicians and well-wired business men through fuel subsidy.  Lawan himself was later exposed as a blackmailer who was allegedly bribed by a suspect.

Stella Oduah sacked some corrupt civil servants in the aviation industry and boasted that she had reversed a number of concessions that were used to swindle Nigeria.  We all clapped and cheered her until the “needful” extra-budgetary purchase of two bulletproof limousines at the scandalous price of N255 million and forged certificates were exposed.
Sanusi has done a world of good to Nigeria’s banking system.  In fact if he did not enter the system when he did, Nigeria’s banking industry would have suffered irreversible financial asphyxiation.

He took on the pen robbers in NNPC and marched them before the cleaners.  When he addressed a group of school children last month on how Nigeria was systematically impoverished by the elite, he said he was bold enough to expose corruption because he stands tall where everyone in public service cowers with soiled hands.

Today the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the former Nigerian Accounting Standards Board (NASB) has hinted that Sanusi the whistle blower probably trampled upon more transparency and accountability rules than some of the managing directors of the banks he chased out of office in 2009.

Dogs are now eating dogs.  With the FRC now empowered to audit both the CBN and NNPC, more scammers would be exposed, even if the perpetrators remain untouchable.  The government’s rule of impunity has shielded Stella Oduah from the long arm of the law.  It even gave her a soft landing by allowing her to quit the scene when those seeking to contest political offices were leaving the cabinet. No one could differentiate between sacking and resignation.

But we all know how Oduah spent N255 million on cars with street values of less than N100 million. We also know what her deafening silence over the certificate scandal meant.  She may be given an ambassadorial posting to launder her image, but we know she has lost her place among women of integrity.

On the other hand, the FRC has shown how Sanusi as the system’s whistle blower allegedly spent N38.233 billion on currency printing with the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited (NSPMC) when the actual turnover of the company (all transactions with the company’s clients including the CBN) for 2012 was a scant N29.370 billion.

We are also waiting for explanations on how the apex bank under Sanusi paid the sum of N511 million to Emirates Airline for local distribution of currency.  Emirates, a foreign airline does not operate domestic flights in Nigeria.  Even the moribund  Associated Airline earned N1.025 billion from the CBN currency lifting largesse when the turnover of the embattled airline for 2012 was not up to N1 billion.

There is a new twist in Jonathan’s lack-lustre campaign against corruption.  The FRC is empowered by law to vet the accounts of every government institution including NNPC.
The FRC queried CBN 2012 account and the president compelled the CBN to respond to the queries.  Now the sins of the apex bankers who sent scores of thieving bank chief executives scuttling out of their exalted offices are in the open, courtesy of FRC report.

Every Nigerian is now waiting for the presidency to publish FRC remarks on NNPC accounts.  No one expects anyone to go to jail for what the FRC is likely to expose.  But we all want to know how the nation’s commonwealth is squandered by those given the mandate to manage resources for public good.  That may actually be the beginning of the fight against corruption.

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