by Olanrewaju Kayode
The headline of the Tribune article is sensational enough, and does enough damage to Sanusi for the superficial reader.
You do not need to have an advance degree in political science to understand that the suspension of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was a politically motivated event. However, you will likely require an exhaustive course in the intricacies of Nigerian politics and government—or more directly, in witchcraft—to make the slightest sense out of the series of attempts by the Federal Government to build a legal case against the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, or at least, convict him in the court of public opinion.
The foregoing is not a statement of despair at the inefficiency of the justice system. Instead, it is a statement of wonder at the rationale behind the GEJ administration’s continuous and almost humorous attempts to build a case against the suspended governor in the first place. The latest effort at this, contained in an article in the Tribune on April 27, 2013 has now begun to make it clear (to an impartial observer, at least) that, like Jesus before the Jewish Sanhedrin—the Nigerian government has become desperate to pin some wrongdoing on Sanusi in other to justify the earlier political decision to suspend him—but, again like the Sanhedrin, the witnesses who have come to the aid of the prosecution keep fumbling in their own testimonies.
The headline of the Tribune article is sensational enough, and does enough damage to Sanusi for the superficial reader. It cautiously states: “FG uncovers how Sanusi allegedly spent N1.3bn on charter planes in 2013” and, relying on the good natured tendency of the average Nigerian to treat the written words of a newspaper as gospel, the writers hopes the reader would take this headline information away, without further investigation. Damage done.
But, an objective investigation into the affairs of the CBN would show that the news story fails in two ways. First, what the headline, and the attendant news story, failed to mention is the fact that the “CBN governors’ department” (a phrase used repeatedly in the news story) actually covers the administration of the 5 CBN governors, that is, the main governor (who is the colloquial “CBN Governor”) and four deputy governors (who are all considered “governors” under the establishing law). Accordingly, there is no individually isolate travel budget for each of the governors. Instead, the departmental budget is meant for all the governors, and naturally extends to the staff attached to each of them. This budget extension also includes the various units such as the FSS 2020 secretariat, administration, Servicom, AML/CFT, ethics and Anti-Corruption. These units are all part of the “CBN governors’ department”, but it seems just easier for Tribune—and the Federal Government—to substitute all of these individuals and units as “Sanusi”. Not to show that Sanusi, probably, signed off on the budget, but to imply that he spent the money personally on himself.
Secondly (and this is more common sense than research), the sum of N1.3 billion a year, evenly divided, comes to about N110million monthly. Now, the Tribune report was magnanimous enough to mention that the average cost of each plane charter is $25,000 (that is, N4 million; if you exchange it for naira at the N160 rate). If you then proceed to calculate the CBN Governor’s working days in the course of the year—including public holidays—you get some 263 working days. And this is where common sense kicks in: for even if Sanusi has personally charted a plane for each working day at the rate of N4 million per charter, the total figure still doesn’t add up to N1.3 billion. So how did this figure emerge? Probably via the same type of magic that helped the $20billion vanish #WhereIsOurMoney.
And this is further evidence of the topsy-turvy brand of administrative justice and anti-corruption crusade that has come to characterise the GEJ regime: one where public officials who have been publicly certified as wrongdoers are personally excused by the President, while those officials who attempt some form of social reform are hounded by the government. Sanusi was a revolutionary type of government functionary, whether his method was right or wrong remains open, but the fact is this: the government is determined to make him pay the price for his whistleblowing.
And this is why one wonders if the editors of the Tribune are more interested in enlightening the public, or in propagating the persecutions of the GEJ administration. One could almost detect some sort of gleeful eagerness in the narration of the article against Sanusi. The sort of narrative eagerness one would hear from an old hand in barber shop conversations—full of inconsistent data but bulldozing its way to a conclusion without logic.
Meanwhile, as the federal government keeps attempting to build a case against Sanusi in the court of public opinion and in the law courts—both unsuccessfully, the trail for the missing NNPC $20 billion, which set off the whole Sanusi persecution saga in the first place— grows cold. One would think this focal aspect would keep journalists up all night, pursuing the government for the facts—but this issue seems to have been forgotten.
No one denies the Tribune its capacities for making its own editorial decisions, yet, it should be cause for wonder to them, (if they stop to think of these things) that almost two months after the initial strike against Sanusi, Jonathan’s government still finds it difficult to present a factual and scandalous headliner case against Sanusi. Obviously, such a story cannot exist, or it would have been out in the open by now. For this government is not able to conceal the scandals of its own loyalists, much less those of an aggressor. Yet, we still await, patiently, the shocker the government has on Sanusi.
All that said, this lack of a serious case is not surprising, for as Socrates confidently stated, upon hearing his death sentence by the Athenian public, “No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.