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Disgrace

By   /  March 14, 2014  /  No Comments

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ONE was condemned as a sinner, and the other side punished him. But the punisher, also agog with iniquities, gets away with many misdeeds. So what we have is an inequity of iniquity. One side is more endowed and the other on the scale of sinning.

I am referring to the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi’s story, his suspension and the saga of the Jonathan administration with its litany of scandals. Sanusi accused the president of failing to account for a large sum of money. It turned out his was a mathematical gaffe, a stumble of figures that undermined his bona fides as the supremo of figures. What was $49 billion turned out to $12 billion on reconciliation? That was sin number one. Sin number two was that he did not apologise, but he insisted he was right, but that the money was not accounted for the way he expected it. After perusing the figures, he says he was not wrong, but the figures were accounted for through a different process. His other sin? He did not do enough homework before pealing to the world.

It turned out that the president had been unhappy with him. So he suspended him for other sins. That he spent too much of the CBN money for charity, gave contracts to his friends and political cronies, allocated money to the mint that was used for printing money outside the country, acted as the be-all and end-all of the CBN because he was chairman and governor in the same breath.

The sins of this man were compounded by the familiarity of cronies in the aftermath of his suspension. When he arrived the country on his suspension, he was received by partisans of the opponents of the president’s party, the APC. That was another sin. He was not allowed to have friends even if they belonged to another party, and if they had known each other before either the PDP or APC was conceived, or even before this democracy took seed in the imaginations of men.

Sanusi bore a regal indifference to the charges. He did not agree with the charges, and rather he decided to challenge his suspension in court. Another sin. He was supposed to lie low and allow the president and his horde of incessant gunslingers pockmark him to oblivion.

Those who were angry with the CBN chief did not ask many questions from the other side. They did not ask why the president did not show balance. The other side said that was president’s sin number one. He never showed any public umbrage at his minister who is ex-this and ex-that on the world stage. He did not say $10.8 billion is a lot of money, especially when it was now difficult to pay our bills. Price of oil is the highest in recent memory but our current accounts profile is going down to seed and dangerous territory. When this sort of scandal happened when I was a student, another president called Shehu Shagari, had to make a live address and explained to the nation the dynamic of the account. Lack of communication was Jonathan’s sin number two, if lack of outrage was sin number one. Lack of public censure of his two favorite ministers was his sin number three. The sins are piling up.

Some raised an earlier matter. He had an aviation minister accused of car worship, or automobile vanity, depending on how you viewed it. She turned the ministry of celestial matters into a centre of terrestrial scandals. She was supposed to care for our skies and heavens but she came down to earth to ruin things. She did not care for the planes but she sullied the earth with sudden sedan sins. So hundreds of millions were spent to buy a car with armour. The president did nothing except to allow her to accompany him from the land of sin to the holy land where they all received blessing and purification. After they cleansed hands and souls, it was not proper to punish her because Stella Oduah had become the Lord’s anointed, especially when one of the top anointed ones who had heavenly gift with aircraft led the odyssey in their chariot to the Lord.

Those who did not believe in the anointing said it was Jonathan’s other sin. He did not show balance, and did not suspend the woman. But when it came to Sanusi, he suspended him immediately. Thereafter he asserted in a choreographed media chat that if Sanusi was cleared of the charges he would restore him as the vicar of our financial soul. So what happened to the absolute powers he boasted about on Sanusi’s case? Why did he not apply them on other ministers? He gave Oduah a “safe landing,’ as though she was falling from the celestial sky where she was appointed to chaperon, a safe landing her inefficiency could not afford many Nigerians who are now history from air disasters. She is no longer minister, but her case has not been treated.

If he wanted to follow due process and fairness, why did he not apply same to her other angels, Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, his ex-this and ex-that on the world stage? They are still in office while their stewardships are under investigations. That was another sin. Some holy tears for him. We now face the charge of $20 billion. Attention is gradually going to other matters. If it was wrong for Sanusi to give crony contracts, what of the many contracts to those who now watch over our waterways and pipelines where we keep hemorrhaging billions. One cronyism is better than another cronyism?

Obviously the two sides are sinners. One sinner, Sanusi, has not denied he did things, even if he did not accept them as sins. He did not deny he unleashed high numbers that turned out hoaxes, and some said it might have destroyed our economy for raising such false alarm. True. I wonder if they did not think that other true alarms like Oduah’s N255 million, or Alison-Madueke’s N2 billion on jet or the agreed upon $10.8 billion were not serious enough to disrupt a nation? Now an aviation group says a certain minister has spent our N10 billion in two years on a private jet for repairs and leisure travels around the world.

It is clear the nation is the biggest scandal of all. In any civilised society, neither the CBN governor nor the president would survive a month of the scandals on both sides. But Nigerians, ever tolerant of sins and forgiving of foibles, explain away the disgrace. We oversimplify them in terms of parties and tribes and faith. Sanusi is Fulani, Jonathan is Ijaw, Oduah is Igbo, Sanusi is Muslim, Jonathan is Christian with pastors drooling more around him than the Holy Spirit. So, we should let the matter be while many poor suffer, power is failing, jobs are few and infrastructure in coma.

The irony is that we live in disgrace and we know it not. It is like the Nobel-Prizewinning novel Disgrace, by South African writer J.M. Coetzee, in which every side enwraps itself in disgrace and thinks the disgrace is on the other side. When a society falls into disgrace and it is not willing to challenge itself, it has lost its moral compass. That is Nigeria.

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