The Sanusi Sanitization of Banking in Nigeria A Great Clean Up?
Written by Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
All Nigerians should answer a few questions in connection with the spate of actions by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; are Nigerian Bankers on trial Innocent or is Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi Is Wrong on his sanitization drive?
And while at it, all Nigerians should also endeavor to answer a few more questions regarding the pandemic of corruption. Who should fight corruption in Nigeria and how? Who exactly qualifies to fight corruption neutrally and freely, without having to face fluid charges of selective prosecution, witch-hunting and vindictiveness or economic- political intimidations of targeted enemies; sectionalism, regionalism and nepotism etc? Who?
There was a time in our recent history, when Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, a lawyer, police officer and chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was castigated as a protégé of then President Olusegun Obasanjo and labeled irreparably, as a mere agent or even political thug, who hot-pursued only Mr. Obasanjo’s political enemies who also doubled as his opponents in the fight to occupy Nigeria’s political prime space. Imagine Tafa Balogun, the former Inspector General of Police as one of Olusegun Obasanjo’s political enemy? In the end, Ribadu was emasculated and demeaned out of the chairpersonship the EFCC and out of the Nigerian Police establishment. Some people remain deeply suspicious of, even Nuhu Ribadu’s best efforts while at the helms of the EFCC. But from my standpoint on Nigeria, the emasculation of Nuhu Ribadu emasculated all of us Nigerians!
In essence, endless attempts to fight corruption in Nigeria have always encountered this turgid reform resistance army of the corrupt and powerful. There is a persisting and recurrent attitude of distrust among Nigerians. And every leadership initiatives have suffered and borne the brunt of this attitude. Many Nigerians did not trust Muhamadu Buhari and his late brother, Tunde Idiagbon, in the duo’s fight against corruption and decadence in Nigeria. Hence the duo, were popular only briefly, and suddenly became too unpopular, just before the gap-toothed man with a mansion on the hills of Minna overthrew Buhari/Idiagbon in a self-serving, self-preservation coup. Nigerians can even recall that before Buhari/Idiagbon, there was Murtala Mohammed, an imperfect man by all accounts, a man who sought to tackle corruption head on as well, before he was gunned down by evil forces. Nigerians and Nigeria have always been or appear to be at the very cusp of the war against corruption, and then, a quick return to the epicenter and deeper closer to the precipice of corruption evil Armageddon, perennially foist upon Nigeria by those who do not mean well for Nigeria’s progress, development and advancement.
The synopsis of all efforts at eradicating and eliminating corruption from Nigeria clearly indicate that all such efforts have been met with vigorous resistance by the corrupt and very powerful segment of the Nigerian population. It does appear from these foregoing paragraphs Nigerians have managed to have rejected every corruption fighter, who had appeared on out corruption fighting stage, as imperfect. By default, we have, in unison determined that previous actors so far, were not qualified or competent or perfect enough, to fight our battles with corruption? Are Nigerians about to be misled into rejecting Sanusi Lamido sanusi, without careful and somber examination and consideration? Are Nigerians about to reject Governor Sanusi, yet another current fighter of corruption, the national albatross and nemesis of our national development advancement? Is history about to repeat itself in our fight against corruption in Nigeria again? Even despite our professed determination to rid Nigeria of corruption? Is our proclaimed hatred for corruption and corrupt persons really genuine? Or why do we seem to always rally-around those who make corruption in Nigeria wreath-large as chokehold on our necks? Our national developmental necks! Why do some of us always seem to find excuses for the corrupt instead of solid support for those who fight corruption?
Many commentators were miffed and expressed displeasures against Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, when he sought to streamline banking, through recapitalization. His efforts led to family-fronts which, in the past paraded as banks or financial institutions in Nigeria, merge into, consolidate, arguably into more viable and sustainable banks, with capital and size, comparable to banks in other nations. Soludo’s solutions were imperfect. Soludo is, even now being accused of cover-ups, collusion with banks for personal benefits and conflicts of interests etc. These allegations, if proven, should be condemned by all.
Now, enters Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who sees banking in Nigeria as different from the way his predecessor CBN governor saw it. This is the same Lamido Sanusi, who upon being appointed, was quickly portrayed as someone who could not run even a chicken farm effectively-efficiently, and Sanusi was quickly portrayed by some, as incapable and incompetent and quite unlike his predecessor, an acclaimed or vaunted professor of economics! Some created the impression that the banking skies would fall in Nigeria, if someone such as Sanusi is appointed to run the Central Bank of Nigeria!
I thought Soludo’s consolidation idea was a good one, base primarily on my knowledge of banking in Nigeria. As I was aware the fact that too many individual families were forming personal entities which did not deserved to bear the toga, bank. Such banks were notoriously lacking in sound solid capital base. Therefore, demanding increase in their capitalization or nudging them into conglomerates in mergers and acquisitions, was not entirely a bad idea in the circumstances.
At the time I had written, supporting the action “Crying And Bleeding For Bankers And Banks In Nigeria?” This was my opinion about the consolidation exercise, which I was critical of banking practices in Nigeria. There is vindication now, in seeing the charges against bank executives who were merely extensions of some families. And families and friends received loans without collateralizations! Nigeria’s economy was left holding the empty bag, and fraudulent bag. In “Crying And Bleeding For Bankers And Banks In Nigeria?” I asked and wondered aloud, why Nigerian banks never invested in education through loans to students in colleges, universities and other tertiary institutions. And further, why, Nigerian banks never invest in agriculture and food production, through loans to farmers and investors in agriculture and food production. And oh why, Nigerian banks never spur industrial development through loans to investors in Small and Medium Enterprises. Why Nigerian banks never engage in the profitable practice of micro-financing, considering the high levels of abject poverty in the land of 150 million people? But instead, Nigerian banks have, for the most part and in the main, specialized in the sale of foreign exchange and quick profits, without actual banking services to both the public and private sectors!
The falsities and frauds which are now being uncovered are responsible for the lack of capacity utilization in the Nigerian economy. And only recently, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) complained publicly, about how Nigerian banks are not helping matters of spurring economic development and progress through the infusion of needed resources into action production base of our economy. Clearly, MAN is in position to know, because their members are in the manufacturing sector of Nigeria’s economy. And the world now knows, through Lamido Sanusi’s sanitizations, that Nigerians banks have not demonstrated good faith in the economy, nor shown any of their interests in our development outcomes. But, we told you so! There were those who attacked me and defended Nigerian bankers against my article some years ago. But the numerous charges against several bank executives now prove the point we sought to make then and now.
Several bank executives and other bankers, have been alleged to have engaged in “Granting loans to many others without adequate collateral contrary to the provisions of Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Bank Act, Cap F2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and other offences punishable under the same law. According to EFCC, the offences are contrary to and punishable under Sections 28 (3) and 50 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) CAP B3, Laws of Nigeria, 2004.”
Or “Failed to keep proper books of accounts and classification of commercial papers as contingent liabilities of his bank ” A particular bank chief was alleged to have engaged in misconduct as “He was also accused of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the correctness of the bank’s monthly return to CBN from October 2008 to May 2009.”
Several other ranking banking leaders, were similarly accused as follows, “The seven non-executive directors and members of Board of Directors of Intercontinental Bank, who were the third set to be arraigned on 18 count charges, were accused of colluding with the former managing director, Akingbola (now at large), to grant various credit running into over N36 billion to companies, in which they are also directors without security.”
The list of charges goes on and on, such as the fact that “They were also accused of taking $10,000 as holiday allowance in contravention of the code of conduct for banks issued by CBN.” And further that “The bank directors were further accused of ensuring that the balance sheet of Intercontinental Bank did not give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the bank with regards to the non-performing credit amounting to N87.6 billion.”
I am horrified petrified by these damning revelations above and I am left to wonder whether most Nigerians, including the public commentators and journalists, who have published opinions so far, are paying close attention to all the facts and sundry allegations against these several Nigerian bankers who are facing criminal charges? Have they examined the nature, the extent and magnitude of damage to our economy and far reaching ramifications being alleged by the prosecutors? And whether our focus should not be why it should matter to us all, and matter deeply, the truth of these charges? If these charges are true and proven, it will be clear to us all, why our economy has been terminally ill and comatose!
Why are some Nigerians focused on ancillary and extraneous issues? Mrs. Ibru’s fine and robust skin was mauled by mosquitoes and Nigeria should declare a national day of mourning her encounters with mosquitoes and her seemingly choreographed fainting spell in the courtroom? Even as her doctor certified her fit to continue to face charges. Too many Nigerians are too elitist and so class and wealth conscious. Or why is it, that none of these same silly journalists worried about Mrs. Ibru’s entanglements with mosquitoes, are not similarly worried about the more than 100, 000 poor Nigerians Awaiting Trials and detained for years, and their nightly encounters with mosquitoes and malnutrition and other abject conditions in Nigerian detention centers and prisons? So what if mosquitoes bite the opulent Mrs. Ibru?
Poor Nigerians detainees who have not committed any offense at all or anything close to the heinous offenses these bank executives have been accused of? The bank executives are alleged to be responsible for how things have been in Nigeria… comatose economy, capital flight and the contradiction of huge annual bank profits! Who cries for common man detained without trial, as malnutrition and mosquitoes feast on her in the putrid conditions of our detention centers and prisons? Why are some Nigerian journalists crying for the purveyors of our stunted growth and stifled development? Nigerians should demand that these accused bankers receive severest possible punishment, when and if proven guilty! At least, Mrs. Ibru and other bankers are getting their day in court! Could we say that for the more than 100,000 citizens of Nigeria, who are detained indefinitely and awaiting trial endlessly?
Some Nigerians have instead squandered and expended their energies accusing Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as having a “Sectional Agenda”, hence this upheaval and “trumped up” charges, but in my view, Nigerians should urge those bankers who are currently facing trials, to prove their innocence of all the charges leveled against them by CBN and the EFCC. Why does it appear to me, that a section of the Nigerian Press is driving the criticism against Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s current policy? I guess these bankers also own and control these newspapers and the journalists within them, and that is why the coverage is slanted and so lopsided against Governor Sanusi?
I myself suspect that a sectional defense of the accused bankers and a sectional defense of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s tenure and honestly, I hate to think in these terms! Why don’t we keep an open mind and follow the paper trails and the facts and evidences of what transpired? Why don’t we dare the CBN and the EFCC to prove the allegations against these accused bank executives, instead of prejudging and excoriating the CBN and the EFCC? It is my view that all Nigerians have suffered and continue to suffer from the evils and deprivations caused by corruption persons and their enablers, whether in the public and or, private sectors of our economy!
Why, oh why, are some Nigerians already introducing ethnicity, religion, region, state and the usual suspects multiple variables of our national negative lowest common denominator into Sanusi sanitization of the banking system in Nigeria? We should fight corruption in Nigeria with all we have got, even if our system, albeit, is imperfect!
See also similar articles by the same author with themes on Nigerian Banking
1. “Crying And Bleeding For Bankers And Banks In Nigeria?”
2. Economic Meltdown Without Toxic Assets?
3. Naira: 20 Years Of Devaluations Without Benefits
4. Oh Ye Ministers Of Little Faith In The Naira And Nigeria!
5. Soludo Solutions & Economic Reforms in Nigeria
6. Bravoes, Kudos to Soludo: On Naira Strategic Agenda