Date Published: 05/24/10
BEFORE WE CRUCIFY SANUSI By Farouk Martins Aresa
Did Sanusi just get a pat on the back or a goodbye kiss through Dora Akunyili? There is nothing worse for business markets than changing the Governor of the Central Bank according to whims and wishes. Many of us did not like his qualification for the position when he got there and we voiced opinions. But on managerial level, planning objectives and goals, we supported him and wondered aloud how long he was going to last. The time to question his ability to do the job is gone, the time to weigh his effectiveness is nigh. A seasoned administrator with foresight would do a better job as a minister of health than a scientist without training in public health.
As much as many of us are praying for Ebele to turn Nigeria around, he has to be careful how he handles Sanusi and the Central Bank. The fact that the political climate has changed is enough to send signals around to tame any unreasonable witch hunt and set revised policies. Indeed, replacing Sanusi at this point may be sending an unintended message that bank managers can go back to their old ways. Though some of us have reservation on his foreign credit guarantee extension, political interventions in high places on behalf of sacked bankers will not be prudish.
Ebele tried to hide the fact that Iwu will be gone and even praised him on conduct of recent elections. There were advises coming from religious, kingship, business, cabinet and political quarters with 20/20 hindsight that Sanusi could have done it differently. It is the same reason some of our children end up in squalor and dumps while the rich are allowed due process that kills our pensioners before we find out if thief is guilty or innocent. Sanusi was able to rid the banks of the same leeches dominating our political arena from which we have never recovered.
We are waiting for those that will prove Sanusi wrong on the amount of money diverted into pockets or that of their cronies, or disclaim all the houses in and out of the Country as if they were running family businesses. Nigeria is their motherland but Dubai is their fatherland. It does not mean we should cry fire when there is no smoke. Billions of naira was taken out as loans by our local international billionaires that were not serviced. He purged the banks of some unscrupulous elements that belong to the dungeons instead of running financial store. No matter what we do in Nigeria, there is always the ethnic suspicion. But some of us abuse it.
No doubt there are negative consequences but getting rid of vultures because they cannot make a killing is a price worth paying. Of course it will depress the market but only on a short term basis. The down side is we would be grieving for those who have lost the shirts on their backs and can no longer feed their immediate and extended families. No doubt a depression because all of those naira would dry up causing a fall in demand, sadly especially in foreign goods that have become the staple of the very rich. It could be worse.
Imagine if we had Ribadu to radicalize our politics proportionally the way Sanusi purged the banks. Instead of that amount of money going into the hands of the few, most of us will see good money we have not touched in a long time. Apart from durable infrastructures, the advantages can be counted by anyone including high school graduates, college graduate, market women on book-me-down; Oyingbo, Aba, Onitsha, Kano, Dugbe, Kaduna, Sapele, Benin, Jos markets. Any market not mentioned here would not be left out of that infusion of otherwise looted funds into local markets. Many of us would be saved instead of waiting for our Chi.
Imagine if that amount of money was going to local entrepreneurs trying to start small or big businesses, many of our jobless graduates could have been employed. If any of us on Main Street or Dump Street had gone to the banks, they would have documented our collateral to the letter and also ask for certain percentage as kick backs. The rich and famous were getting loans and disappearing into thin air without any consequences. It is not sustainable.
If all this is not true, please crucify Sanusi and many of us who supported him will make the bonfire. In the same vein, if these people cannot prove their innocence, the bonfire cannot be wasted, they must dance in it or stay in jail for a long time like their counterparts in the United States. After all they model everything after US, so they must do jail time as those crooks in US.
If some of us were day dreaming, please forgive us. We have been starved of funds for so long Sanusi reform was overdue in our political circles too. When the last administration was piling up funds in our foreign account and excess crude oil account, we were the same ones crying that the money should have been spent or saved at home to boost our economy. Well, those funds have been drawn down and our fear is realized that some vagabonds would spend it off.
Since our model is closer to United States, we have to realize that the deregulations and free market preachers of yesterday in the league of Alan Greenspan former Chairman of Federal Reserve Bank, Ben Bernanke the present Chairman, Timothy Geithner Secretary of Treasury, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers Director of National Economic Council are born-again Obama’s tough fiscal reformers. The same people singing different songs.
Sanusi may turn out to be our Brooksley E. Born. She was the head of Commodity Futures Trading Commission that dared defy these born-again reformers who were sinners in the Clinton Administration. Born warned them that derivatives trading threatened the economy; they frustrated her out claiming she was not qualified to understand the market. Even Republicans, the champion of free market and deregulation are cautious hindering Democrats legislation to rein in the financial vultures that brought the world markets down.
Economic meltdown in Greece has been used by both conservatives and liberals around the world to buttress their points against or for fiscal responsibility. The fact remains that the rich folks in that Country kept their money out of Greece like Nigerians, paying little or no taxes. As some individuals become richer most of their countrymen became poorer. The same is true in California as the rich are able to implement tax cuts, without civilized services as government goes broke. California is still floating because of Federal tax paying pension and unemployment.
Mr. Greenspan lost lifelong credibility, as if he was not warned, banking on the goodwill of Wall Street to self-regulate and behave honorable. Though Nigeria has nothing to show in form of working class mortgage, housing slump in US loan markets and lack of revenue in the form of taxes starved the beast (government regulations) so that more folks could get rich. As Nigeria and world markets crashed, those who sold at inflated prices laughed to the banks, seating on gold plated toilets, in yachts, luxury cars and houses at their pleasure while we sidon look.