The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi will not leave until June 2 when his five-year tenure expires, it was learnt yesterday.
Sanusi, who became estranged from the Presidency because of his letter to the President in which he alleged that $49.8billion Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) oil remittance to the Federation Account was missing, has reportedly been told by President Goodluck Jonathan to resign.
The former First Bank Managing Director told CBN staff that he had shelved his pre-retirement leave and would remain in office till the expiration of his term.
CBN spokesman Mr. Ugo Okoroafor confirmed yesterday that Sanusi said he would no longer proceed on terminal leave at a “family meeting” with the bank’s staff.
He spoke to reporters in Abuja on Sanusi’s tenure after a news conference on the execution of the bank’s Payment System Vision 2020 (PSV 2020) strategy.
ThisDay reported yesterday that Jonathan asked Sanusi to resign for allegedly leaking his letter on the “missing $49.8billion” to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, who wrote a damning letter to the President.
The story said Dr Jonathan’s directive was rebuffed by the CBN governor who denied leaking the letter to anyone.
Sanusi reportedly told the President during their heated telephone exchange that he would not be forced out of office. He reiterated that only the voting by two-thirds of the Senate could remove him and not a presidential fiat.
It is believed that yesterday’s statement by the CBN spokesman that the governor had told the staff that he would no longer proceed on a pre-retirement leave is a direct confirmation of Sanusi’s preparedness to stand on the point he made when he spoke with the President.
Presidency officials could not be reached for comments.
A CBN official, who pleaded not to be named, said: ‘We all saw it coming. We knew it was going to get to this point.”
He did not eleaborate.
Also yesterday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) advised Dr. Jonathan not to force Sanusi out of office because of such an action’s implication for the economy.
The opposition party said the President should not destroy the institution.
In a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said “asking the CBN governor to step down, on the basis of a mere allegation that he leaked the letter he wrote to the President, over the unremitted $49.8billion oil revenue does not bode well for an economy that is already on crutches”.
It warned that any move to suspend Sanusi and use security forces to prevent him from entering his office, would mean that the President is willing to circumvent the provision of the law that the governor of the CBN can only be removed by two-thirds of the Senate membership.
The APC said suspending Sanusi would be a replay of the damage that President Jonathan did to the judiciary when he suspended Justice Ayo Salami until his retirement, and he could easily re-enact such a scenario if, for example, he feels that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has offended him.
‘’Our worry here is that the President should not destroy our institutions before he leaves office,’’ the party said.
It said the party’s main reason for commenting on the planned removal of Sanusi, either through forced retirement or via suspension, is the impact that a crisis of confidence between the President and the CBN Governor will have on the nation’s economy.
‘’These include a loss of confidence in the economic management of the country, leading to uncertainty among domestic and foreign investors; as well as pressure on the exchange rate as foreign portfolio investors in government bonds and the stock market make their exit, and the corresponding fall in the value of share prices.
‘’Overall, a protracted standoff between the President and the CBN Governor will spell bad news for economic growth and employment and increase poverty. This is why we advise President Jonathan against precipitating a crisis in the economy, and we urge all Nigerians to advise him against such,’’ the APC said.
In APC’s view there was nothing wrong in a CBN Governor alerting the President to any discrepancy he may have noticed in the remittance of revenue from oil, which is the mainstay of the economy, adding that such action is expected from any CBN Governor who is worth his salt.
It said there is no reason to believe that Sanusi leaked the letter he wrote to the President, especially because the CBN Governor wrote the letter in September and the letter was not leaked until December.
‘’It stands to reason that if the CBN Governor had wanted to leak the letter, he had no reason waiting for four months to do so. Also, the moment the letter was sent to Mr. President, it had gone beyond the purview of the CBN Governor and anyone with a reason to do so could as well have leaked the letter.
“For the President to have made the extraordinary move to force out the CBN Governor, even though he has a few months to the end of his tenure, smacks of vendetta and is capable of impacting negatively on the economy. Circumventing the law to force out the CBN Governor will amount to brigandage and reinforce the perception of the Jonathan Administration as one with a propensity for impunity,’’ the APC said.
Source: The Nation