The Case of Sanusi Places the President in a Very Awkward Situation
It is not unheard of for a leader to have a key associate that could blackmail him. The Central Bank Governor is a key figure in every administration, especially an administration that has kept talking about sound economic principles, transparency and good governance. To have an open quarrel between the President and the Central
Bank Governor is as profound as having an open quarrel between the President and the Attorney General of the country. (It is noted, though, that in Nigeria, Attorneys General have always been puppets, rather than the agents of law and order that the constitution envisioned them to be).
“Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline”
In those words, the President of Nigeria tried to regain the initiative on a crisis that threatens his administration like none else. The question now is whether he has done it right or not, and whether the monster he feared is finally off his doorstep. My prediction is ambivalent. The President has to do a lot more. Otherwise, his headache is just beginning. He cannot expect to lay to rest the profoundly damaging allegations from the Central Bank Governor simply by suspending him. That will be a terrible miscalculation.
Yes, from several indicators, it is reasonable to believe that Sanusi is a radical and somewhat of a zealot who has not cared so much about due process as he would want others to believe. But also, Sanusi merely alleged something many of us have been suspecting about this administration – that it has some slush funds outside the budget with which it plans to raise a war chest for 2015 do-or-die elections. Sanusi merely pointed at the likely source of such slush fund – the unaccounted black hole in the Nigerian mucky public finance known as the NNPC.
By the way, President Jonathan has to accept responsibility for whatever happened in NNPC. He is the President. NNPC is the cash cow for the county. And any missing of 20 billion dollars will simply be too big for the President not to know about it. Regardless of the legal nuances and technicality, this is a monster Jonathan has to deal with, either now or later, but better now. I read the press statement written by Mr. Femi Falana, in which he weaved some fine legal points that underplayed the gravity of the situation. But anyone would know that this is one case too serious for it to be brushed aside by a few legal citations.
One thing was clear though – Sanusi could no longer fit as a member of this administration. It is surprising that he refused to resign. Removing him might have been necessary. But the President must now prepare to explain to Nigerians and the world what happened to the 20 billion dollars alleged to be missing.