A statement from the presidency, which announced his suspension, had accused Governor Sanusi Lamido 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.”
The statement adds: “Being also deeply concerned about far-reaching irregularities under Mallam Sanusi’s watch, which have distracted the Central Bank away from the pursuit and achievement of its statutory mandate; and being determined to urgently reposition the Central Bank of Nigeria for greater efficiency, respect for due process and accountability, President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the immediate suspension of Sanusi.”
Talking about the alleged financial recklessness, the first that readily comes to mind was the donation of N100 million to the victims of Boko Haram attacks in Kano State in early 2012. Reports quoted Sanusi as saying that the donation was part of CBN’s contribution to the state government to alleviate the suffering of direct victims of the violence and their families.
Reacting to the development, then, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr. Ralph Ndigwe, demanded explanation from Sanusi on why CBN had not extended similar gestures to hundreds of Igbos who were victims of violent attacks by Boko Haram.
Ndigwe threatened that Ohanaeze would champion the removal of Sanusi as CBN governor should he fail to explain the rationale behind the donation to Kano victims only.
“We want Sanusi to tell us what CBN has done for hundreds of Igbos, who were victims of Boko Haram violent attacks in various parts of the North. If Sanusi fails to give us explanation for CBN’s selective donation of N100 million to victims of Kano attack, we will not hesitate to push for his removal from office as CBN governor,” the Ohanaeze spokesman stated.
Capitalisation of rescued banks
The injection of hundreds of millions of naira into the rescued banks whose managing directors were removed by the apex bank shortly after Sanusi assumed duty as the CBN helmsman was another albatross on the man’s neck. Critics described the action as unlawful as it was not approved by the National Assembly.
But Sanusi anchored his actions on the CBN Act. This forced the National Assembly to attempt to amend the Act in order to subjugate the powers of CBN governor to the National Assembly.
Another sin of the Kano prince was his allegation that more than 25 per cent of the nation’s budget was expended on the legislators’ salaries and allowances. This pitted him against the legislators, who later summoned him before a joint select committee of the Senate over his claim.
Sanusi had, during a lecture at the Igbinedion University Okada, Edo State, in December 2010, alleged that the overheads consumed by the National Assembly was 25.41 per cent of the nation’s budget. The senators had disputed this and put the figure at between 1 and 3.5 per cent.
According to Senator Iyiola Omisore, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, who presided over the hearing, Sanusi’s claim was “a deliberate attempt to mislead the nation.”
Waiving the budget document before the audience, the senator said the figure, which Sanusi quoted in his lecture as the Federal Government’s overhead in that year’s budget was false. The correct figure, the senator said, was N1.3 trillion. This, he said, meant that the National Assembly’s overhead spending was N1.3 trillion, which translated to only 3.5 per cent of the Federal Government’s overhead expenditure, a far cry from the CBN governor’s 25 per cent.
Sanusi also found himself in the eye of the storm when he decided to license Islamic banking in 2011.
This did not go down well with Christian bodies in the country. The President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, accused Sanusi of promoting Islamic banking with public funds, which he said, was beyond the CBN governor’s constitutional limits.
He also berated him for spreading the notion that non-interest banking was synonymous with the Islamic religion. He challenged the CBN governor to give account of funds spent on Islamic banking to Nigerians and return such money to public treasury.
He also asked the CBN to announce uniform guidelines for licensing non-interest banking system, as it is done in the educational sector, so as to avoid discrimination in the nation’s financial sector.
A Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, later in June 2012 made a proclamation that any operation licence granted by the CBN to any Islamic commercial jurisprudence bank under non-interest financial services was “unlawful, illegal, ultra vires, null and void.”
Sanusi also incurred public wrath in 2011 when he decided to introduce N5,000 note under his currency restructuring exercise. Many Nigerians kicked against the plan, but following a barrage of public anger, disagreement and threats, the idea was set aside.
Face-off with President
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the alleged heated argument between him and President Goodluck Jonathan over the suspicion that he, Sanusi, leaked his letter to Jonathan to the ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the said letter, the CBN governor was said to have accused the NNPC of not remitting $49.8 billion to the Federation Account. Sanusi, who denied leaking the letter to anyone, refused to resign and told the President during the heated telephone exchange, that he could only be removed by two-thirds of the Senate, as required by law. This was said to have infuriated the presidency.