Nigeria: Governor of Central Bank dismissed - The decay of a rotten system

The crude dismissal of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido by the Goodluck regime on February 20 shocked many. It is technically a dismissal in spite of the claim of suspension pending investigation. The overwhelming majority can clearly see that this is the price for blowing the whistle on the massive looting taking place in the oil sector and an intensification of the intra-class conflicts going on within the Nigerian ruling class.

This is the first time in Nigeria’s history that a governor of the central bank has been forcefully thrown out of office before the end of his tenure and this further confirms the enormous economic and political crisis plaguing in the country. This is also a warning sign to the working masses and youth, as the ruling class will inevitably place the burden of this crisis on their heads in the coming period.

Not that we believe in anyway that Sanusi is a saint, he is not, in fact, he is a villain himself in many respects and a loyal agent of imperialism. He is a member of the Nigerian ruling class; he also acknowledges this fact publicly. However, he is one of the very few members of the Nigerian elites that is quite worried about the massive plundering and recklessness taking place, and is worried about the deadly consequences of this recklessness.

The details of looting he had exposed to the public in the past have gone a long way to indicting the ruling class as a whole. For example, he exposed some years ago that about 25 percent of the country’s budget expenditure goes into pockets of topmost government officials and National Assembly members. For this indictment he was queried by the National Assembly.

The recent whistle he blew on the massive corruption to the tune of over $20billion on the kerosene subsidy further indicts the Goodluck regime and the ruling class as a whole. It revealed the crude method of plundering the resources of a country by the few.

We have always emphasized that there was never any subsidy on fuel in Nigeria in the first place and that fuel price increases are a means of sucking more blood from the masses in the interest of the super-rich and imperialism. Sanusi’s exposure further confirms this position concretely. There is said to be a subsidy on kerosene and it is supposed to be sold at N50.00 per litre on the streets but nowhere in the country is kerosene sold for less the N120.00 per litre. Yet over N700 million is shared out daily among oil companies and super-rich individuals.

Earlier, Sanusi blew the whistle on the non-disclosure of over $49billion of returns on crude oil sale, although later he publicly reduced the figure to $10billion but there is concrete evidence to suggest that there are elements of truth in his allegations and it was clear that he was under heavy pressure from Goodluck to withdrawal the allegation. This could be publicly seen at the public hearing on the allegation late last year where the finance minister Okonjo-Iweala practically gagged him publicly to reduce the amount missing.

However, it is inevitable this issue will be revisited in the immediate future. The working masses and youth will never forget this episode and the next major attempt to increase fuel prices in Nigeria will be met with a serious resistance.

The exposure of the dirty workings of the NNPC, the corporation coordinating the affairs of Nigeria’s oil sector, whose operations are covered in absolute secrecy to the public, is another major indictment of the Goodluck regime and confirms how hopelessly corrupt the regime is and the entire neo-colonial capitalist establishment. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and this was essentially the major reason why the Goodluck regime sacked him. It is reported that the regime had wanted to get rid of him since late last year.

Sanusi is No Saint

As we emphasized earlier, Sanusi is no saint and he is an agent of imperialism, in spite of everything he has done recently. He does not proffer any workable alternative to the current neo-colonial capitalist economy, which remain in crisis. On all occasions, he advocates more deregulation.  In addition, one cannot rise to become the head of the Central Bank of Nigeria without being a top aristocrat of the banks, corrupt and a member of the ruling class.

In spite of the series of his public lamentations by about the terrible economic situation in Nigeria, he implemented to the letter the full dictates of international finance capital as put forward by the IMF and the World Bank. These were the policies that created the problems in the first place.

For instance, the fraudulent and speculative activities of banks and international finance speculators (so-called foreign speculative investors) are responsible for the pressure on the naira. They are allowed to move money in and out of Nigeria with impunity, engaging in all forms of speculative activities. They play the Nigerian stock exchange, play with the bond market, engage in currency speculation, etc. Most of these activities are not in the productive sector and their criminal activities lead to pressure on the local currency and drive up the nation’s debt enormously.

Meanwhile, to defend the naira, billions are taken from Nigeria’s foreign reserves to sell to the same criminals and the volume of public money in circulation is reduced in order, according to them, to reduce the naira chasing the dollar. These and several other policies don’t really work but create more crises in the short and long run.

So long as the CBN is there to defend the interests of big business, multinationals, speculators and the Nigerian ruling class in general, the monetary crises are bound to get worse, and with the inevitable fall in oil revenue the situation is bound to get worse in the coming period.

Sanusi supported the use of public funds to the tune of trillions of naira to bail out private banks after the 2008-2009 bank crises. These banks and financial institutions were engaged in highly fraudulent activities. This bailout has further worsened the debt burden of the country and thousands of bank staff lost their jobs. The AMCON debt is now placed at the equivalent of $35billion. One trillion naira is required to service this ‘toxic debt’ this year alone.

He actively supported fuel price hikes and deregulation of the entire oil sector. The masses can’t forget his role in the January 2012 fuel price increase, which triggered the January revolt.

We will not be in anyway surprised if some of the allegations of corruption levelled against him by the regime are true. As the Nigerian state apparatus is also deeply corrupt and part of the criteria to get to the very top is that you have to be corrupt. If you are not corrupt before you get to office you must be corrupted while in office.

Sanusi like most members of the Nigerian ruling elites cannot rise above ethnic-religious prejudices. This is mainly because the elite exploit these prejudices. His northern aristocratic background and his stance on Islam irritate several petty bourgeois elements mainly from the south and Christian north.

He has had several running battles with the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, over his support for Sharia banking and the leadership of CAN has on several occasions publicly and crudely tried to link him with Boko Haram. In fact, it has been alleged that top aides of the Goodluck regime have been spreading innuendos linking recent Boko Haram attacks to Sanusi’s dismissal.

Many of these attacks are clearly false and attempts to divert attention away from the real issues at stake and most importantly these crises confirm the extent of the intra-class conflicts going on among the Nigerian ruling elites.

Mixed Reaction

Many are generally angered by the corruption of the Goodluck regime and by the inability of the regime to deal with corruption, while evermore cases of crude corruption and recklessness have been mounting on the regime.

However, as there have been massive public outcries against Sanusi’s ‘suspension’, there has also been support for the action from a significant section of society, mainly from Southern Nigeria and among the Christians generally.

The reason for this is that they perceive Sanusi as an agent of the north out to discredit and take power from their southern president. To them, the cry of corruption is highly hypocritical as those crying wolf are themselves equally corrupt and mischievous. Many buy into what the religious and ethnic bigots say and the innuendoes sponsored by the regime. Sanusi’s inconsistencies, neo-liberal programmes and ethno-religious stance help build up this case.

The fact that there are layers supporting this crude action is a further confirmation of the degeneration of the crisis in Nigeria. It is a reflection the result of years of promoting ethnic and religious division throughout Nigeria by the Nigerian ruling elites.

However, the overwhelming majority of the masses, in spite of the ethnic and religious divide and prejudices, instinctively know that all is not well generally with the whole system.

Impending Consequences

What is certain is that the economic crisis is bound to get worse in the coming period. This is not primarily due to the corruption and recklessness alone, but due to the neo-colonial capitalist nature of the Nigerian economy. Corruption and recklessness only complement the crisis and are a component of capitalism.

The first hours after the removal of Sanusi saw the biggest drop in the value of the Naira in recent times. And it is reported that $2billion of the $9billion in foreign cash invested in Nigerian bonds has moved out already; some bankers predict more will follow. However, some forms of stability have since been restored.

No doubt, the imperialists are worried in spite of their criminal silence. They too support the removal. The crude removal of CBN governor is not a norm as far as they are concerned but they also do not consider it normal to have a whistleblower as CBN governor. The imperialists maintain a criminal silence because of their greedy interests and their direct involvement in the process of plundering the resources of the country. The CBN is actually a tool in their hands in the final analysis.

In addition, the fact that another top banker had already been nominated to replace Sanusi and the external reserves are still quite large has stabilized the situation for now.

However, this situation will not last as the rate at which the reserves and oil revenues are being looted, it is only a matter of time before the financial crisis gets worse. In addition, the oil revenues are bound to drop in the face of the global economic crisis.

Labour must wake up

Unfortunately, the leadership of labour has gone to sleep and they are actively behind the regime on several fronts. The leadership of the Labour Party has, scandalously, entered into an unholy alliance with the ruling PDP. This has created a situation where the Nigerian masses and youth do not have a political alternative to the current rottenness.

The APC is clearly trying to exploit the situation for its own selfish agenda. Many can see that they are as corrupt as the PDP in areas where they are in control and many of the beneficiaries of CBN bank bailouts and contracts are core APC members.

In fact, the alternative the APC and several other right-wing elements put forward is bound to worsen the situation, as it is more reactionary. For instance, the solution the put forward for the corruption in NNPC is the disbandment and sale of the corporation into private hands. This is stated in the so-called Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. This bill calls for the total deregulation of the entire oil sector. This bill is definitely in the interests of the multinational and super-rich.

What is certain is that the Nigerian masses need a truly political alternative of their own under their own control. The current political and economic crisis is destined to get worse and without a working class alternative, the situation is bound to degenerate further.

The working class political alternative involves the building of a truly workers’ party with a socialist programme which would include nationalisation of banks and financial institutions under workers’ democratic control and the dumping of all IMF and World Bank programmes.

It is only in this way that the CBN will no longer be the bank to protect the interests of the Nigerian ruling elites and imperialism but will be transformed into a public bank that uses its resources to defend the interests of the mass majority of working people and not to line the pockets of the rich.