News Analysis: The Suspension of Sanusi Lamido

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Sanusi Lamido Sanusi knows fate on May 20

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi welcomes Jonathan to the  palace of the Emir of Kano
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi welcomes Jonathan to the palace of the Emir of Kano


Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

President Goodluck Jonathan finally wielded the big stick on Thursday as he sent Mallam Lamido Sanusi, the controversial Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN on immediate suspension. The President further
ordered Sanusi who was due to end his tenure of office in June 2014 to hand over to the most senior Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr Sarah Alade who will serve as Acting Governor until what it described as
“the conclusion of on-going investigations into breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate of the CBN,” during Sanusi’s tenure.

There was no earlier indication that the Presidency has ordered an investigation into the CBN Governor’s tenure. But in the statement announcing the sack of the CBN Governor signed by Reuben Abati, the
Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, the President said the decision to send Sanusi on suspension ahead of his exit date was because of the indictment of the CBN Governor in reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies.

The President said the reports indicated “clearly that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure has been characterized by various acts 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.”

It was added in the statement that “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 beeing determined to urgently re-position the Central Bank of Nigeria for greater efficiency, respect for due process and accountability, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has ordered the immediate suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The President expects that as Acting Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Alade will focus on the core mandate of the Bank and conduct its affairs with greater professionalism, prudence and propriety to restore domestic and international confidence in the country’s apex bank.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria reassures all stakeholders in Nigeria’s financial and monetary system that this decision has been taken in absolute good faith, in the overall interest of the Nigerian
economy and in accordance with our laws and due process,” President Jonathan concluded in the statement.

Having earlier indicated that he is not interested in second term in the office, the Sanusi’s tenure is set to leave office in June.

Sanusi Lamido
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

But analysts believed that the Jonathan administration may show the Governor the door earlier following the
critical questions he has been raising over Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation non remittance of crude oil proceeds to the national treasury in the past few months. Sanusi had also pointed out how NNPC
was deducting trillions of naira from crude oil sales to pay itself subsidy for importation of kerosene and petrol.

The Kano born CBN Governor had stirred the hornets net in September last year when he alleged in a letter to President Jonathan that NNPC had failed to remit $49.8 billion in oil proceeds to the Federation Account over a 19-month period. The latter which was not acted upon by the Presidency generated outcry from Nigerians when it was leaked to the press few weeks later.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo made references to the letter as an example of the theft of public funds
going on under the Jonathan administration in his controversial letter to the President. NNPC however accused the CBN Governor of acting out of ignorance and mischief as it claimed that the figures bandied
in the letter by Sanusi was still being reconciled by all the relevant stakeholders, including officials of CBN

In reaction to public outcry over the issue, the Senate last December asked its Committee on Finance led by former Governor Ahmed Makarfi to investigate the issue. When he first appeared before the Committee in December, Sanusi said only $12 billion was yet to be reconciled out of the earlier $49.8 billion he had alleged was unremitted to the Federation Account by NNPC in his letter to the president.

But in the rather rancorous public hearing, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the Minister of Finance had interrupted the CBN Governor alleging that it was $10.8 billion that was actually yet to be reconciled and not $12.8 billion. The CBN governor did not object to Okonjo-Iweala’s subsmission.

Both parties agreed then that the figures are still being reconciled.

The opposition had latched on to the claims by Sanusi as the reasons for the paradoxical reduction in the revenue available for sharing among the federal, states and local governments at the monthly
Federation Accounts Allocation meeting, inspite of the rising oil prices in the global market.

Some weeks ago, the NNPC went to town detailing how it spent the $10.8 billion.

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Bernard Otti, Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts Directorate, NNPC told journalists held on 10 January 2014 said the sum in question was the expenditure incurred as part of the statutory responsibilities which NNPC as a national oil company executes on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and by
extension, the people of Nigeria.”

He added that the expenditures were mostly incurred as part of measures to ensure regular supply of petroleum products to Nigerians.

Specifically, Otti said out of the amount, $8.49 billion was spent on subsidy claims, $1.22 billion on pipeline management and repair, $0.72 billion on product/crude oil losses and $0.37 billion for holding of
strategic reserves.

But when he appeared before the Makarfi Committee on Tuesday 4 February, Sanusi submitted that “claims by NNPC of spending money on subsidy are not credible,” in a presentation in which he also accused the oil corporation of running a racket through which trillions of naira are being ferreted out of the national purse under various guises.

In the 20 page presentation to the Committee, Sanusi accused the NNPC of misleading Nigerians into believing that it has remitted or accounted for all monies due to the federation account contrary to his claims in an earlier letter.

Sanusi put the amount that the NNPC has not accounted for in 19 month period spanning January 2012 to
July 2013 at $20 billion.

According to Sanusi, the NNPC was still to account for $12 billion out of domestic crude oils sales, $6 billion shipped on behalf of the NNPC and $2 billion “third-party financing”, making a total of $20 billion.

He listed three areas that the Corporation has been short-changing Nigeria, the biggest of which is in the payment of subsidy. He contended that while NNPC claimed that 80 per cent of the funds it failed to remit to the national treasury was spent on kerosene and fuel subsidy, the Federal Government had in 2009 directed the
elimination of subsidy on Kerosene.

In spite of the directive, the CBN Governor noted that going by the records of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, NNPC imports four to six vessels of kerosene every month at the landing price of N150 per litre, but sells to marketers at N40 per litre though the Corporation is aware that the product sells for between N170/N220 per litre in the open market.

Through this the Corporation incurred a subsidy of $20 miilion per vessel. “This means that at an average of 5 vessels a month, the federation account loses $100 million every month to this racket,” said Sanusi who submitted the memo directing the stoppage of subsidy on the product in 2009 to the Committee. He noted that the product was not even available at the subsidized price in the market as contained in statistics by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.

Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala had at the sitting of the Markafi Committee last Thursday said the federal government would appoint independent forensic auditors to investigate the CBN Governor claims following failure of the parties to reconcile the figures.

But sympathizers of the administration has accused Sanusi of dancing to the tune of the opposition with the the aim of portraying the Jonathan administration as grossly corrupt. Sanusi has also been accused of reckless spending.

On Wednesday February 5, Sen. Ita Enang representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District in a notice of Motion told the Senate that the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] has within the last three years also spent about N50 billion without appropriation as investments, donations to some educational, health and other institutions across the country .

The Senator further noted that the actions, investments, corporate donations among others are not part of the core functions of the CBN or in any manner ancillary thereto. PM NEWS gathered that the Federal
Government may have relied on this accusation to sack Sanusi.

Before today’s action by President Jonathan, speculations about the action were rife.But the belief was that the constitution did not favour the action, as the president requires two-thirds support from the Senate.