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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Who is Sanusi Lamido Sanusi ? – By Uche Igwe



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Mallam Lamido Sanusi

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Dan Majen of Kano must be both saddened and probably shocked wherever he is now. I do not know the Central Bank Governor in person. I saw him first at the annual meeting of African Development Bank in Abidjan in 2010 and then in Washington DC earlier in the year but did not get to chat with him. However, since he was appointed the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, I have been following his utterances and actions cautiously and methodically. One must admit he has taken some steps which portrayed him as a man with enormous guts and convictions. The sack and subsequent prosecution of Managing Directors of five banks suggest that Mr. Sanusi could bring an end to ‘business-as-usual’ practices in the Nigerian banking industry.  Furthermore, the man called SLS by his admirers never shied away from public debates as it can be said to be to his credit that the debate about the salaries of federal lawmakers was brought to the public domain.

Both in 2010 and 2011, Emerging Markets Magazine named him the World’s Central Bank Governor of the year. In 2011, Times Magazine voted him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world while Forbes magazine voted him as Africa’s person of the year. These are no mean achievements that both his admirers and critics must acknowledge. But I am not carried away by them. Lest I forget, SLS has also till date procured about five honorary doctorate degrees for himself from five Nigerian Universities.  Though the fact remains that these are no mean achievements either, there are so many things about the apex bank governor that deserve urgent clarification.

Many observers have raised justifiable reservations about his academic qualifications pointing to the fact that SLS may not be as qualified and may only be posturing. But that is by the way. His seeming knack for controversy has caused observers to continue to probe into his background to raise questions about whether Mr. Sanusi is using his position to advance national interest or a sectional one. His stubborn insistence on introducing Islamic banking and his controversial donation of 100 million naira to the Muslim victims of Kano bomb blasts partly confirmed rumours that continued to lurk around his personality. Never mind that he ran back to donate 25 million (one quarter of what he gave in Kano) to the Christian victims in Madala, Niger State in an effort to cover his shame.

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Here is a man who conducted himself as though the Central Bank that he heads is a republic of its own even under the nose of a sitting President.  You can take this to the bank. The main reason behind every conduct of Mr. Sanusi might be the fact that he is fully aware that he is not qualified and he is doing everything humanly possible to cover up his deficiencies. Although SLS has a bachelor’s degree in Economics, most of his writings before his appointment have been Sharia legal system only. Though Section 8 of the CBN Act is not explicit about the meaning of ‘proven integrity and recognised financial experience’, I argue that someone with Sanusi’s credentials could suffice as Governor in the sixties not in the era of globalization. One must continue to wonder the sort of system that throws up people who are relatively unknown to sensitive national positions based mainly on geographical considerations. I recall that Mr. Sanusi was nominated to that position at a time when the word cabal was probably the most important word in the Nigerian polity and that partly justifies the way he carried himself even after the cabal publicly lost out in the vicious power game. Both his utterances, his pattern of donations, even his policies sound like they are predesigned to make a particular section of the country comfortable and happy. A more objective and rigorous scrutiny of the actions carried out by SLS will reveal his ‘reforms’ might turn out to be one of the most unprofessional and whimsical consolidation exercises that have ever been conducted in the history of banking in Nigeria. Mr. Sanusi might have denied his rumoured Presidential ambition, but the trajectory of his new found philanthropy has sold him out. He will go down in history as one man who has made the highest amount of discretionary donations with public funds.

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Probably the most disturbing is the allegation that Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is both a supporter and sympathiser of religious extremism. Dependable academic sources documented that one Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alleged played a catalytic role in the public beheading of one Mr. Gideon Akaluka in Kano in 1995 on a false allegation of desecrating the Muslim holy book. A 2003 report from the Centre for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School Harvard University, United States of America, affirms that this singular event sparked off the religious riots where thousands of Christians were massacred. It was said that Mr. Sanusi was expelled from Kano and locked up in Sokoto prisons for two years by the late Sani Abacha government until his benefactors bailed him out. Now, hang on a minute- could it be the same person or a case of mistaken identity? Who really is Sanusi Lamido Sanusi?  A cerebral economist? A reform minded regulator? An ambitious politician? Or an Islamic fundamentalist? The answers to these questions will reveal the real personality of the head of the apex bank and can give ordinary Nigerians fresh insights as to what the next move of the Dan Majen Kano may be.

Uche Igwe is a Governance expert and wrote from Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. He can be reached on ucheigwe@gmail.com

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