Mallam Sanusi And The Rest Of Us


By Isaac Asabor 

If there is any leader that has always held me spellbound each time he mounts the soap box to speak, he is the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. No doubt, he has an oratorical prowess that is capable of arresting the attention of any of his listeners. What about his dress sense? I usually see him as one that has a likable dress sense. Without being funny, he has stylishly endeared me to the wearing of French suit. This goes to show that he is a personality that is capable of inspiring the rest of us, particularly the youths. No doubt, many youths apparently look up to him. But as it is today, favourable perception about him is fast eroding. No thanks to his self-opinionated stance on the introduction of the N5000 bill. By the time he succeeds in forcing the rest of us to accept the proposed N5000 banknote I may need just three notes of the high-value currency to have one locally-made French suit.

Paradoxically, beneath his oratorical prowess and likable dress sense is his damnable disregard for public opinion, which is an indispensable element of an effective and efficient practice of public relations. Before now, I erroneously perceived him to be one that understands the concept of public relations as he was variously reported early this year in the media to have carried out the public relations activities of giving back to the society by giving out millions of naira from the purse of CBN to the University of Benin and the victims of bomb blast in Kano. I must confess that this public relations activities exhibited by Mallam Sanusi misled me to believe that he understands the workings of public relations. Furthermore, his reply to critics over his somewhat  “Father-Christmas” role as reported in the media further made me to see him as one that understands the nitty-gritty of public relations practice. However, as it is at the moment, I am convinced that the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria may not have practically understood the concept of public relations as I erroneously thought. The reason for my conviction may not be far-fetched as anyone that knows what public relations is all about would not make the mistake of toying with public opinion (vox populi) which determines why, how and when an organisation should relate with its publics, which invariably include the rest of us as far as CBN is concerned. Anyone that occupies any strategic public office that has no regards for public opinion does not truly know those he or she is serving, and by extension does not understand why he is serving the people. Regrettably, most leaders today see their position as a platform for self-aggrandizement, hence they do not let go each time they come up with any policy that is popular or unpopular as far as the policy would in the long run literarily put their names on the good or bad pages of posterity.

The most surprising aspect of the proposed introduction of the N5000 banknote is that the governor and his team at CBN are yet to give Nigerians any plausible or logical reason why there should be currency restructuring against the backdrop of the fact that they are simultaneously clamouring for a cashlite society. I listened to a speaker on the television the other day. He said that with the introduction of the N5000 bill CBN would only end up entrenching a “cashbulk” society as against cashlite society. His view rightly hit the bull’s eyes. How can a society be both cashlite and cashbulk? In his explanation, “cashbulk” means “too much” money in circulation. As it is now, with the introduction of N5000 bill it is possible for moneybags in the society to keep millions of naira at home by stacking their suit cases with wads of the high-value note. At the other extreme, some families in our nation, particularly in Lagos, rely on business that has capital outlay, in most cases, of not up to N5000. Come to Itire in Surulere, Lagos, you will be stunned to know that some women sell roasted yams, maize and fried ground nuts to survive the harsh realities of our economy.

Still in the same nexus, how can a roasted yam seller, for instance conveniently transact business with a buyer that purchased N200 worth of roasted yam to which he or she made payment with N5000 bill given the fact that the capital outlay of the business falls below N5000? This foreseeable scenario apparently explained the reason why former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo constructively condemned Mallam Sanusi’s intention to introduce the N5000 bill by saying that the bill would not be favourable to small scale businessmen.

The derring-do stance which the CBN governor has adopted over the issue is even obscuring the inherent benefits, if there is any. His attitude over the issue has made me to see the other side of the governor. In my understanding, he is indirectly telling many Nigerians that he is more educated and experienced than them. This warped assumption of the governor of the apex bank that he knows more than the rest of us in my view does not hold any iota of truth. The bible in Ecclesiastes chapter 9 verse 11 says “I have seen something else under the sun; The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned, but time and chance happen to them all.” In response to the foregoing scripture, Mallam Sanusi should not begin to see himself as the swiftest, strongest, wisest and most learned Nigerian as long as banking profession is concerned. He should stop seeing himself as the most qualified Nigerian to literarily steer the ship of CBN considering the fact that we live in a country that preposterously has high regard for quota system as far as appointments into public offices are concerned. He should please desist from being self-opinionated over the issue. Nigeria operates a democratic system of government, therefore, Mallam Sanusi should hearken to the voice of the people. There are thousands of Nigerians who know more than him on the issue of high currency and inflation, and they have vehemently kicked against it. Even a lay man is aware of the adverse effect of injecting high-value bank notes into circulation. I know of high-value bank notes and inflation as far back as 1977 when a textbook titled Economics of West Africa authored by O.A. Lawal was recommended as one of the books I needed for my Class 3 in the secondary school. The late afro beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti in one of his lyrics said: “Teacher nor Teach me nonsense”. Mallam Sanusi and his co-travellers should stop bamboozling us with false and contrived information. In an advertorial titled “False Rumours On Currency Restructuring” signed by Ugo A. Okoroafor,  the Director of Corporate Communications of CBN and published on page 59 of Saturday Sun newspaper of September 8, 2012, the apex bank posited that “Currency restructuring does not cause inflation in any form whatsoever as it will NOT increase money supply. Instead, currency restructuring will make payments easier and indeed check unnecessary rise in prices that come with the practice of rounding up. The experience in Nigeria and other jurisdictions suggests that currency restructuring may actually help in tackling inflation. For instance, when CBN introduced the N500 banknote in 2002, inflation dropped from 16.5% to 12.1% in 2003. Similarly, when the N1000 banknote was introduced in 2005, the inflation rate actually dropped from 11.6% to 8.6% (single digit) in 2006 and dropped further to 6.6% in 2007.”  This is arrant balderdash. Given the unprecedented rate at which falsehoods are being churned out by spin doctors on CBN payroll, I would like to urge the governor and his co-travellers to stop bamboozling the rest of us with high sounding economic jargons. The least educated market woman knows that the implication of introducing high value banknote into the economy is nothing but hyper-inflation.

Also, the arguments in support of the policy which the Deputy Governor of the  Central Bank, Mr. Kingsley Moghalu, who is also the head of  the apex bank’s Financial System Stability, has made so far is puerile and laughable. In my opinion, he has at various times literarily stood logic on its head. His argument, implied that the higher the value of a currency, the better the economy. They can introduce N1 million bank note if they so wish for the betterment of our economy! If his argument holds any water, it means most Latin American countries that are the pacesetters in the use of higher currency denominations, would have by now become the leading world economies. Unfortunately, it is not so. Most of them that experimented with high-value currency paid dearly for it while some are at the moment literarily enmeshed in the labyrinth of hyper-inflation.

The CBN governor’s decision to introduce the N5000 banknote was reached by him and his co-travellers in order to massage their egos. Each time I watch any of them speak on television, I am always overwhelmed by what I would contextually referred to as the spirit of doubt, unbelief, distrust and skepticism. Most times, their “Tales by moonlight” postulations appear contrived, cooked-up, warped and invented to deceive Nigerians who seek an explanation about the policy that was dead on arrival.

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Mallam Sanusi and his co-travellers should be reminded about the wellbeing of millions of Nigerians and that it should be the priority of anyone occupying the exalted and sensitive position of a governor of a country’s apex bank. Many leaders in this country, past and present, have made the heart of Nigeria to be dysfunctional so much so that the majority of us are today suffering as a result of the dysfunctional heart of the nation.

The Bible in proverb chapter 27 verse 12 says “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” It is expedient to urge Mallam Sanusi to rescind his decision in order not to let millions of Nigerians suffer unnecessarily.

Permit me to quote an African proverb that says “When the pigeon begins to walk and nod its head rhythmically, be rest assured that its behind-the-scene drummers are at work. In other words, the pigeon is perhaps responding to the staccato rhythm of the drumbeats. Another adage says it is the eagerness of the drumsticks that quicken the pace of dancers. So, who are those pushing Sanusi behind the scene to introduce the N5000          bank note?

Is it his education or banking experience which nobody has ever acquired? He should be reminded that educated and experienced Nigerians across the six geo-political zones have spoken against it. I suggest it is high time he ate the humble pie and thought of another policy that would positively impact on the economy of our nation.

Where is his warped confidence coming from? This is the question the rest of us may not be able to answer. Books on macro-economics are replete with nations that toed the seemingly suicidal path Mallam Sanusi is determined to drag the rest of us through. Countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Russia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe amongst others would easily understand the self-inflicted inflationary challenge which Mallam Sanusi is about to throw the rest of us into.  Recall that in January this year President Jonathan’s intransigence seemingly landed us in inflationary doldrums. As if that was not enough, come January 2013, Mallam Sanusi has planned to do the same, through a different evil strategy. What offence have we committed against these leaders that every passing year they devise one evil agenda after another to inflict pain on the rest of us? Why is it that each time this nation has the opportunity of coming out from the economic pit which past leaders have thrown the rest of us into that a leader would come out of the blues and further dig the pit deeper and deeper. I suggest the rest of us that are against the policy of currency restructuring need to stop him with the decibel of our collective voice and the ink of our pens.

In my view, if he wants to leave his footprints on the sands of time of the apex bank, he should do so with good works. Needless to mention names, past governors of CBN were not self-seeking as they ensured they stamped their footprints, as sojourners in CBN, on the sand of time through good policies and good works. Simply put, Mallam Sanusi should not be self-seeking. Rather, he should let his good works speak for him.

I am using this medium to advise him to rescind his decision and listen to Nigerians. He is doing well for the banking industry, and he should not spoil his good works with his proposed introduction of N5000 bill and the introduction of coins that would at the end of the day not be legal tenders.

 •Asabor wrote from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]

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