Suspended CBN governor, Sanusi, explains Jonathan’s main problem

The Nation Newspaper – Suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi yesterday described President Goodluck Jonathan as a simple man trying to do well but undermined by “incompetent and fraudulent aides”.

Sanusi, widely respected by economists in Nigeria and abroad, was suspended by the President last Thursday over alleged financial misconduct. He denied any wrongdoing.

Sanusi accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of failing to account for $20 billion, an allegation that is being probed by the government. The NNPC denied that any cash is missing.

In an interview with the French news agency (AFP) in Lagos, Sanusi said many of the people advising Jonathan are sycophants who do not speak frankly about the extent of corruption in the government.

“When you sit with President Jonathan himself, he appears a nice, simple person who is trying to do his best,” Sanusi said, adding: “His greatest failing obviously is that he is surrounded by people who are extremely incompetent, who are extremely fraudulent and whom he trusts.”

When Sanusi was removed, just four months before his tenure was set to expire, analysts voiced concern that Jonathan was seeking to sideline an increasingly vocal critic of his administration’s record on corruption.

Sanusi learnt of his suspension while in Niger Republic for a regional meeting. He immediately returned to Lagos, where intelligence agents from the Directorate of State Services (DSS) seized his passport.

On Friday, he secured a temporary order from the Federal High Court in Lagos barring the DSS agents or police from arresting him.

“I thought taking away my passport was the beginning of infringement on my fundamental human rights,” Sanusi told AFP, explaining why he had already sought court protection.

Regarding the allegations against him, Sanusi said he earlier this year heard of a report condemning his performance and wrote to Jonathan in “June or July” asking if an explanation was needed, but received no reply.

The first time he was formally notified about the allegations was the day he was suspended, he said.

He argued that it would be too simple to describe his removal as payback for his attacks on the NNPC.

“Since 2009, I have been annoying the government… You’ve got people who think I have the wrong friends, people who think maybe I have not distanced myself enough from people who are seen to be opposition figures,” he added.

The list of Sanusi’s enemies may have been built up over years, but the NNPC affair appeared to be the final straw.

The NNPC has become notorious as one of the most opaque oil companies in the world, but Sanusi said the extent of the graft may have reached an historic high.

“I think everybody has known that NNPC is rotten. I don’t think it has ever been as bad as this,” he said.

He has levelled various accusations against the NNPC, but an alleged kerosene subsidy payment scam has received increased attention.

Even though the NNPC pays subsidies to kerosene vendors, Nigerian consumers still pay full market price for the product.

According to Sanusi, the so-called kerosene subsidy money, in fact, pays for “private jets…yachts… and expensive property in Beverly Hills and Switzerland”.

Sanusi has ruled out running for elected office, but said he may still have a future in public service.

In the short term, he voiced readiness to face any attacks that may be coming from those committed to preserving the status quo in the country.

“If I am sacrificed in whatever way, my freedom or my life… if it does lead to better accountability it will be well worth it,” Sanusi said.

Photo of CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Source: The Nation

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