The suspension of Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi yesterday has brought to a halt the long-drawn dispute between the presidency and the nation’s top banker.
Sanusi was appointed CBN governor in June 2009 by then-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Before his appointment, he was the GroupManaging Director of First Bank of Nigeria.
The letter that announced the suspension of Sanusi said his tenure had been characterised by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct which were inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank’s core values.
To many Nigerians and other international observers, the reasons are far from the reality of what Sanusi’s tenure brought to the banking sector and the monetary policyof the country.
The suspended CBN governor is someone who appears to fancy devling into controversy.
The main point the Jonathan administration is hinging its suspension of the CBN governor include that of donating billions of naira as corporate social responsibility to institutions in the opposition states, thereby indirectly empowering the opposition to challenge the president in 2015.
Since his appointment, Sanusi didn’t allow bankers and other financial institutions to rest, as he introduced and implemented policies that left them standing on their toes.
Among the key actions which were considered by those keen to see him go as ‘great sins’ include the introduction of auditing of the financial records of banks and the tenure for bank CEOs pegged at 10 years. These two regulations led to the exit of many bank chief executives who were considered the ‘mafia’ of the Nigerian banking industry. Since then, the CBN governor was exposed to intimidation and threats.
Some banks that were considered to be big and healthy such as Intercontinental Bankand Oceanic Bank were uncovered to be distressed, leading to the sacking and detention of their chief executives.
The examination showed also that nine banks were clearly in a ‘grave situation’.
The CBN took proactive steps to prevent further deterioration, including the injection of N620bn as convertible loan, replacing the Chief Executives and Executive Directors of eight of the banks and introducing the guarantee of the local interbank market to ensure continued liquidity.
Sanusi said in an interview last month that his successor’s main challenge will be to maintain the independence of the central bank, stressing that undermining that may hurt the economy.
Despite the outcry and intimidation, Sanusi further introduced the cashless policy in the economy aimed at reducing the bulk of cash in circulation.
But the most recent and, apparently, unforgiveable sin of Sanusi in the eyes of the presidency was the letter he wrote to President Jonathan alleging that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit about $49.8 billion to the Federation Account from January 2012 to July 2013.
President Jonathan accused Sanusi of leaking the letter to intentionally tarnish the image of his administration and send bad signal to the international community. Jonathan also accused Sanusi of leaking the letter to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He then asked Sanusi to resign which he declined.
Again, two weeks ago, Sanusi came up with $20 billion as a new figure that NNPC failed to remit to the federation. This obviously did not go down well with the presidency and the managers of the nation’s resources.
To many observers, this is the real reason that earned Sanusi yesterday’s suspension. Already he has said he would challenge the removal in court, but added that he will not return to CBN even if the court ruled in his favour.