Nigerian President Suspends Central Bank Head for ‘Financial Recklessness’

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was relieved of his job on February 20, 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan for “financial recklessness and misconduct”. He has since been replaced by the most senior CBN deputy governor Dr. Sarah Alade.

press release from the presidential adviser for media and publicity detailed the reasons for suspending Sanusi: 

Having taken special notice of reports of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and other investigating bodies, which indicate 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;

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  

Being 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.  

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi [Image released under the Creative Commons Licence]

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Image by David Shankbone and released under the Creative Commons licence.

It's not the first time the former chief banker of Nigeria has been in the news. Last year, the contents of a letter he wrote to the president were leaked to the press

Mr. Sanusi’s had in September written a letter to to President Goodluck Jonathan detailing the theft of close to $50 billion in oil proceeds by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The letter later to the press and became a subject of public discourse.

Although Mr. Sanusi later revised the figure of the missing funds down to $12 billion, reportedly due to threats by associates of President Jonathan to make an issue of his reckless spending and philandering, the president concluded that the CBN governor’ pronouncement is set out to embarrass his government and demean his office.

However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation denied the allegations from the former bank chief, saying he was playing politics in a report by the Daily Trust newspaper:

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday denied reports credited to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Sanusi Lamido Sanusi  that it withheld $49.8bn (equivalent N8 trillion) representing 76% of the total crude oil revenues from January 2012 to July 2013.

NNPC spokesman Omar Farouk Ibrahim said in a statement that the allegation is borne out of misunderstanding of the workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the Federation Account.

A defiant Sanusi late last month once again accused the NNPC of corruption, according to a report by Premium Times

Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido, struck a defiant tone again Tuesday, accusing state-run oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, of failing to pay to the federation account at least $20 billion of government oil revenues.

Prior to the announcement, a YouTube video uploaded by Chime Asonye titled “Overcoming the fear of vested interest, Sanusi Lamido at TEDxYouth@Maitama” had gone viral in Nigeria's blogosphere.

The suspension of the bank chief has drawn the ire of Nigerian netizens. Namama thought it's another imprudent decision by the president:

Tunde Bakare asserted that suspending Sanusi will not arrest the corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC):

Helen Alfred insisted that Nigerians deserve the truth about the missing funds that Sanusi spoke about:

Another tweep accused the government of double standards:

Not all tweets were critical of the government though. For instance, blogger and writer, Willy Wonka wondered about the uproar on Twitter:

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