Lamido Sanusi travails

He is described by Wikipedia as a career banker, ranking Fulani nobleman and a respected Islamic scholar. An offshoot publication of the Financial Times, The Banker has awarded him with the Central Bank Governor of the year and Central Bank Governor of Africa in 2011. TIME magazine also listed him in its TIMES 100 list of most influential people of 2011.

Welcome to the illustrious world of Lamido Sanusi, the immediate former Central Bank Governor of Nigeria. Appointed by the late President Yar’Adua in June 2009, he is credited with bringing much needed sanity into the spiraling recklessness of many local Nigerian banks. Within two months of his appointment, he had dismissed eight CEOs of Nigerian banks and initiated prosecutions against 16 high ranking banking officials for charges related to fraud, lending to fake companies, giving loans to companies that they had a personal interest in and conspiring with stockbrokers to boost share prices. Having taken a leading position in placing Nigeria as a frontier market for foreign investors looking for high returns in a relatively calculated risk environment, he was also at the forefront of balancing the stability of the Naira against the valuable oil export revenue and a voracious import appetite of a growing consumptive economy.

He was therefore well within his mandate when he wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan sometime in December 2013, expressing concern that $20 billion in oil revenues had not been remitted by the state oil company to the government between January 2012 and July 2013. The letter, which was allegedly leaked to former President Obasanjo, provided much needed ammunition in the growing warfare against Goodluck’s bid for a second term next year. Goodluck proceeded to suspend his Central Bank Governor who had a few months left to the expiry of his term in mid 2014 citing that Sanusi’s tenure had been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness that were inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management. Go tell it to the birds; the financial markets read it for what it was, a high level nipping in the bud.

Goodluck could have waited out the four or so remaining months of Sanusi’s tenure, especially since Sanusi had publicly stated in 2013 that he had no intention of seeking a second term following its expiry in 2014. However, Sanusi’s credibility, stature and recognition at a national and international level would make any further “revelations” or “concerns” by the Central Bank Governor fatal wounds to his re-election campaign. Of course, the fact that the President suspended the Governor without consulting the Senate whose full approval is required before removal of a Central Bank Governor fell right in with the Big Man Syndrome sweeping many African states lately.

Whether the Nigerian senate will assert its authority is anyone’s guess. But a world-renowned central banker has had his wings clipped unnecessarily for political expediency. It sounds straight out of a – pick an African country of your choice – political playbook. Back at this ranch, our executive is running a supremacy war with a board over at the East African Portland Cement, the latter which has rejected attempts by the Government – read President – to appoint a new chairman who will take care of the Government’s interests. The judiciary is also engaged in a chest thumping war of edicts against the senate in the jaw dropping episode that is the now-he’s-governor-now-he’s-not Wambora saga. In the court of public opinion, anyone who watched Wambora on television when he appeared to defend himself against the five counts that gave rise to the impeachment proceedings would be hard pressed to support the man. He had absolutely no apologies to make when he brazenly displayed ignorance of the globally recognized management maxim “The buck stops here”. Everyone around him made mistakes and he was a saint. In fact Embu residents would regress into cavemen and bush hunters if he was removed from office as he was the solution to their woes from his lofty perch as “Governor-who-doesn’t-get-his-hands-dirty-but-knows-what-the-panacea-needed-is. “

To the remaining governors who watched the unfolding wing clipping with clenched teeth and gastrointestinal cramping, the next step was to come out fighting. They knew that those meddling senators would come for them next. It didn’t matter that Wambora’s removal was as a result of substantive findings of gross incompetence and abuse of office. They would fight about the procedure of removing him rather than the substance of the charges against him. In so doing, they have sent a very strong message to us voters: eating, mediocrity and incompetence in that order of importance are what they celebrate and execute in their governorships. A virtually unheard of Kenyan citizen called Martin Wambora has, through his sheer managerial incompetence, managed to create a constitutional crisis pitting the legislative arm of government against the judicial arm in the cross fire of ignored court orders, and pitted the legislative arm of the government against the executive arm in the fight for supremacy of senate (legislative) versus governors (executive).

In all of this, I’d like to believe that the ultimate manager of this business called Kenya is watching hawk eyed at the unfolding mess in his front yard. The elephants are fighting each other tooth and nail and the grass – read citizens – is getting trampled on and completely forgotten about. The citizens have children to feed, clothe, house and educate. These priorities are running the clear and present danger of being completely forgotten about if the elephants are not reined in soon. Come 2017, the voter will cast his lot with either a promise of a rosy future or the memory of a depressed past. Following broken promises in 2002, 2007 and now 2013 it doesn’t look like hanging one’s political reelection hat on any promise will make sense. Having said that, it bears witnessing that at least our manager doesn’t have to account for 20 missing billions of oil revenue dollars. Yet.
Twitter: @carolmusyoka