NOW WE KNOW THAT PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN CAN BITE
After 27 years of military rule, Nigerians are very used to military way of doing things and indeed, without knowing it they have become uncomfortable with civilian way of doing things. They love" with immediate effect" and the drama that accompanies such military actions. Matters have not been helped by the 8 years military style civilian rule of President Obasanjo, who can eat pounded yam with you at lunch and you hear that you have been removed from office at 9 o'clock news on NTA. Oh Nigerians love the tough guy image!
That's why they thought that Umaru Musa Yardua was as slow as a snail and they have been so critical of Dr Goodluck Jonathan's speed of action.They have little patience with the long and due process of civilian democracy. They are uncomfortable with the niceties and humane conduct of the president. How can a minister be in position for three years? That does not happen here. The shorter the term, the better, perhaps so that it could get to everybody's turn. Indeed many Nigerians have concluded that this President is so gentle and long-suffering, that he can not hurt a fly. Infact some have gone to the extent of suggesting that he is not really in charge.Even the President himself, in response to these insinuations has tried to caution that he was not a soldier nor a dictator but a civilian President, but the impression of a lamb who sees no evil nor speaks evil has persisted.
But all that has changed in the last few weeks. The prelude was the sudden change of the military service Chiefs, some of whom had been in office for just a year or so. Some people speculated that it was necessitated by the security situation precipitated by the 'Presidential' letters, while others insisted that it signalled a change in the temperament of the President. He had gotten to the limit of accepting suboptimal performances or listening to cock'n' bull stories. Then as if to give credence to the latter view, the 'almighty' Chief of staff, chief Mike Oghiadomhe was removed 'fiam'. I understand that many Nigerians have prayed and fasted for this to happen since all recommendations to the President to change him seemed to have been rebuffed. Then just as they were about to catch their breath, four ministers fell in one day. So it was possible for the president to remove the 'powerful' erstwhile minister of Aviation,Princess Stella Oduah! Many Nigerian 'pull her down' hunters had bayed for her blood for so long. How can she be reconstructing and remodelling 11 or is it 13 airports at the same time? Where did she get the money and who gave her the money? We have not been able to even upgrade the International wing of the Murtala MUHAMMED airport for over 25 years, how come she will take all the airports at the same time? Something must be 'wrong'with her. Then the story of the Purchase of two armoured vehicles broke out and hell was let lose. When the President seemed to go through the due process of query, investigation,etc, Nigerians lost their cool and called the President unprintable names. They just wanted her sacked immediately the news broke out, there was nothing to investigate in their view.But a forth nite ago their wish was met even at the time when they seemed to have lost hope.
The ink on that story was yet to dry when the 'sleeping lion' in the President barred his fangs and threw out our 'imperial' CBN Governor, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the aspiring Emir of Kano. This was an uppercut which was thrown when the crowd was not looking and when the opponent was watching out for the referee to bring the bout to a victorious end. For the last five years or so, this country seemed to have had two competing "sovereigns".The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the 'Governor General' of the territory of the Central Bank of Nigeria. One was governed by President Yardua(of blessed memory) when Governor Sanusi Lamido came to power. At his confirmation hearing, he fired his first shots at his competing sovereign when he criticised him without any care in the world for pursuing a seven-point agenda suggesting that he should rather focus on One-three point agenda. President Yaradua did not like that one bit, and I wish to hazard a guess that 'governor general' Lamido Sanusi will not have lasted this long if Yardua was in power long enough.
When Yardua was succeeded by Jonathan, he naturally became his next sovereign competitor. He criticised Jonathan and his government so frequently that the President had to complain openly that Sanusi Lamido was criticising the government too frequently as if he was not part of the government. But that did not deter the governor.
Sanusi Lamido was so care free that he commented on every subject and spoke publicly too often. At one point I had to point out that he was not behaving like a central banker. I had said that bankers were conservative people and that they did not speak about all that they saw nor revealed all that they knew. And that as such, central bankers were even expected to be more conservative. He did not like my comment .Infact that is one character trait of Sanusi Lamido. He is a serious critic but never likes to be criticised. He got so angry any time any body or group said or wrote something that sounded critical of him or his programs.
The truth is that Sanusi did well in his job and I had wished he could have concentrated on his job without feverishly courting controversies too frequently. The undoing of Sanusi as governor of Central Bank was that he had a misguided notion and interpretation of the independence or autonomy of CBN. He felt that CBN was so independent that no body could query him on anything he did at the Bank. That was why he rebuffed any body that asked him any question on what ever he did. The President could not spend money without appropriation by the National Assembly but the CBN spent money without appropriation or approval by anybody. He could donate money that belonged to the people of Nigeria to any body or to any course of his fancy and nobody could ask him because the Central Bank was autonomous. This misnomer became more evident in his immediate reaction to the reasons given by the Presidency for his suspension. He seemed to say that he could do whatever he liked and no one could query him, and since no one could query him, no one could remove him except with two thirds majority votes of the senate, which he reckoned was never going to be easy, if at all.
Infact that was the basis of his seeming arrogance. He felt he was untouchable and erroneously believed he could get away with 'blue murder'. If it ever occurred to him that the President or anybody could suspend or remove him from office, he probably would have taken pains to provide detailed response to the query of the Financial Reporting Council, the agency whose report finally nailed him. His feeling of invincibility was so high that when recently it was rumoured that the President was going to ask him to proceed on pre- retirement leave three months to his retirement, there was media report that he boasted that he was going no where, that he planned to remain on his post till his last working day in June!. What an empty and misguided boast. Not even an elected President could make that boast, talk less of an appointee of the President. It is thoroughly nauseating that Sanusi now says he was not appointed by the President but by the Senate. Then,even no responsible Senator can make that boast. I think Sanusi really dared the President and now that the President has decided to bite, the invincible 'sovereign' is running helter skelter and seeking all kinds of court orders so as not to be quizzed,arrested or detained. There are many cowards in this world! The man who got so many notable Nigerians arrested, detained, disgraced and some jailed does not want to be held accountable.
I know that there are many people who are defending Sanusi and opposing his removal on the basis that he was being victimised for accusing NNPC of holding back money that belonged to the Federation or even for accusing NNPC of being corrupt. Iam amazed at this. Will Sanusi be the first person to accuse the NNPC of misappropriating the federation's income or would he be the first person to accuse NNPC of being corrupt? In all the published reports of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency initiative (NEITI)since 2005 till date, NNPC has consistently been blamed for either failing to remit all the funds it collects on behalf of the Federation or for failing to fully reconcile its accounts with the Accountant General or the CBN. NEITI is the official agency charged with reconciling receipts in the oil industry. No Chairman or Executive Secretary of NEITI has been suspended or removed for the findings and the publication of their reports. So there is nothing novel in Sanusi's allegations or accusations, to warrant his being victimised. Perhaps the only thing new was the unprofessional way he was changing the figures of the alleged missing money from $49.5 billion to $12 billion and then to $20 billion. That alone is so unprofessional that if I were Sanusi's employer, I would have fired him. And yet that means nothing to those who say he's done nothing to merit suspension. Even the weighty allegations of serial financial infractions and poor corporate governance practices mean nothing? How we often turn logic upside down because of personal relationships and gains! If we must win the war against corruption, then it must be total and holistic and there should be no sacred cows!
I am personally happy that the President has taken actions which show that his endurance has limit and that he can bite. Truly my wish is that he bites a lot more frequently so that those who think they own this country will realise that Nigeria is owned by all of us, and that, like it or not, there is only one President at a time in this Nation, and indeed in any other Nation.Also,all those who have the opportunity to hold offices in this Country must buckle up and deliver service to meet the aspirations of Nigerians and stop thinking they can run to the court or to any body to keep them in their jobs when the man who appointed them has lost confidence in them.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR