Emir Sanusi, Oby and the weapon of filthy lucre
I consider the tale-bearings targeted at two eminent Nigerians, His Royal Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS), the emir of Kano, and former education minister and co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG), Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili, as allegations bordering on the ridiculous and aimed at diverting public attention from the sublime issues they have continued to patriotically engage in our nation.
SLS and Obiageli (Oby, for short), it must be pointed out, are not temperamentally suited for the conspiracy of silence that has characterised officialdom in our clime. They have another strong ally in the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, who has broken the silence code through his book, The Accidental Public Servant. These are avant-gardes who are not our archetypical elite. They defy the conventional genus.
Unlike many former and serving public servants who have, so far, for personal reasons, kept mum in the face of perceived wrongs committed by successive administrations, the troikas of SLS, Oby and el-Rufai have dared the establishment. Today, the nation is still smarting from el-Rufai’s allegedly disruptive memo to President Muhammadu Buhari. Besides, his challenge to the National Assembly on the opaqueness of its budget has ruffled feathers in the federal legislature.
But this piece is not about the enfant-terrible in Kaduna Government House. It is about SLS and Oby. It is about the bully tactics and the media stunts that are being deployed against them for sustaining the courage of their convictions. Both have criticised the economic policies of the Buhari administration without hedging. SLS has challenged the northern leaderships on a number of issues marriage, education of the girl-child, the governor who claimed that sin of fornication, rather than non-provision of vaccines, was responsible for outbreak of meningitis that had claimed hundreds of lives in his state.
In fact, SLS, at a policy monitoring dialogue hosted by Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development in Abuja in December 2016, had rapped the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for illegally lending to the Federal Government and doing so above the limits stipulated by the CBN Act of 2007. For him, the problem of the Buhari government was lack of right policies to fix the current economic woes.
From the majesty of his throne in Kano, SLS has been putting the government and northern oligarchs on their toes. The establishment is ill-at-ease with his bare-knuckle tackles. This is not a new indulgence. It has been in his character not to suffer fools gladly whether the foolhardiness is manifesting in or out of government. The throne has not moderated his rambunctiousness. He can rein in on the side of government or the governed, depending on the correctness of the issues. He is an unprejudiced interventionist.
In April last year, at The Platform, a public policy forum in Abuja, Oby described Buhari’s economic policy as archaic and opaque. For her, the economic policy was encouraging massive corruption and abuse of power as well as hurting the poor people it was intended to help. She had surmised that what did not work in 1984 could not possibly be a solution in a global economy that’s much more integrated.She argued that it was old-fashioned to rehash the same command and control approach towards economic issues, which had left the country’s economic indices worse off since he assumed office on May 29, 2015, such that in a year, we have lost the single digits inflation status we maintained in past administrations.
In a chat with The Interview magazine in January this year, Oby was also brutally frank in her response to a question that bordered on the timidity of Buhari’s economic policies. Her response: It’s not timidity; it’s about doing the wrong things and being adamant about them. I feel that the government has not allowed itself to be persuaded by empirical evidence as the backbone for sound economic policy choices.
Besides her criticisms of the economic policies was her irritating leadership role in #BBOG through which she has sustained the pressure on the Federal Government to bring back all of the adducted Chibok girls from the captivity of Boko Haram insurgents. The administration has found her fiery, nay firebrand advocacy, troublesome.
Both SLS and Oby have, doubtless, benefited from very rich and intimidating pedigrees. Therefore, media reports linking them to sleazy financial deals in the expenditure of the Kano Emirate Council funds; and financial donations by local and foreign donors for prosecuting the #BBOG campaigns respectively are indicted in veiled attempts, perhaps, by the establishment through its proxies to fight back.
However, those desperately fighting back would appear to be ignorant and unintelligent. They allege that SLS mismanaged N4 billion that he inherited in the councils treasury while Oby is alleged to have raked in N3 billion from donations from several local and international donors from contributions to #BBOG campaigns. While they must prove these allegations documentarily, the nexus of filthy lucre is, indeed, curious. Filthy lucre is no doubt the most lethal weapon to destroy hard-earned reputations. It is at the centre of the lingering insanity in our nation today.
What the anti-SLS, Oby forces want to achieve is disconcert them by questioning their claim to moral high grounds in matters financial and get the people to be hesitant about further interventions by them. Thus, mendacity has become the stock in trade of their veiled traducers. Their strategy is not only pedestrian but also cheeky.
Some details of the outlandish claims are already in the public domain. SLS has already expressed readiness to open the treasury of the Kano Emirate Council to probe. I am not aware if Oby has seen and reacted to the online report by Greenbarge Reporters detailing the said allegations against her. But time will certainly prove who the real mischief-makers are in both instances.
Ojeifo is an Abuja-based journalist.