The former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, yesterday identified corruption, poor leadership and wrong-headed policies as the bane of Nigeria, citing the regime of paying subsidy on petroleum products as part of the corrupt practice that may bring the country to its knees.
Speaking on Arise News Channel, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria also described as an assumption, the notion that Nigeria is an oil rich country.
Sanusi declared: “This has always been a big joke for me and we also talk about the fuel subsidy. President Jonathan tried to remove fuel subsidy and the people protested. You are producing two million barrels of oil for 180 million people and that’s one barrel for 80 people. Saudi Arabia produces one barrel for three citizens.
“You produce one barrel for 80 and your share of that revenue from that barrel is maybe half, so it translates to one barrel for 160 people. We need education, we need healthcare, infrastructure, telecommunication, agriculture and you decide that what they need more than anything else is cheap fuel and that doesn’t make sense. We are throwing away millions of dollars in this scam called subsidy.
“When oil prices go up, other producers rejoice but not so for Nigeria. Our refineries are not working and we have this scheme called subsidy which is really a scam and practically everything that comes in goes practically out to import petroleum products and to pay subsidy on those products.
“When you deal with corruption, you also have to look at creating the opportunities for corruption. Corruption thrives when you create an opportunity for people to take advantage of things. When you talk about the oil industry, for example, if you eliminate fuel subsidy, you eliminate fraud worth billions and millions of dollars. If there is no subsidy, what is the incentive to come and forge bills of laden and bribe Customs and bribe people?
“If you don’t create an arbitrage opportunity in foreign exchange market, how do you create corruption there? So, I think we need to look at the structures and processes and make sure we eliminate the avenues and incentives for people to be corrupt.”
He said the second highest form of corruption “is appointing people who are incompetent to positions.”
Sanusi said: “Sometimes, it is not even so much of corruption but people don’t even know what they are supposed to do; people who do not know why they are there; people who do not have the sense that at the end of their efforts, they are still human beings.
“If every public officer starts thinking about how his actions and decisions affect a human being and how he can contribute positively to affect that human being, he will begin to address issues. But, I think you should ask, does this person even understand what he is saying, whether you are a minister or a civil servant? I think if you are a minister, at the end of eight years, you should assess how you affected the people.”
Sanusi also said zoning the Presidency to a particular region may leave Nigeria “with two useless candidates” in 2023.
He said he had always objected to discussions that take into account where a president should come from.
The former CBN governor said “Nigeria needs a president who can deliver, irrespective of where he is from.”
Sanusi said: “I have always objected to this idea that we should focus on where the president comes from. We have got southern governors saying we want the presidency and some northern governors saying that they want it in the north. Have you noticed that nobody has given the name of who they want?
“This whole thing is to corner the presidency to one part of the country and the big masquerade will come out. And that is why at the end of the exercise, you end up as Nigeria… presented with two useless candidates. Those who want to be president should show their face either from the north or the south.
“Meanwhile, we have before us very serious issues. You have a simple issue of electronic transmission of results which is designed to make the electoral process fairer and you have people saying that they do not want it, shamelessly announcing to the country that they want to rig. Why are we not talking about these issues?
“The greatest weakness we have as a country is that we do not think. We are very smart when it comes to making money by doing our work but we do not apply critical intellect to… and these guys just take the entire country for a ride.
“Give me a president from any part of the country who can deliver and we should vote for him. He is not taking the presidency to his hometown.”
Sanusi said civil society organisations and the national assembly “are not doing their jobs” in terms of holding political society to account.
Everyone wants office; everyone wants favours from the government. If we had a strong civil society holding political society to account, we would begin to improve and tackle issues,” said the former CBN governor.
On those agitating for the breakup of Nigeria, Sanusi said Nigeria “is better together than divided,” pointing out that countries that embraced dismemberment had found themselves in various conflicts and blamed the elites for using ethnicity and other factors to divide the country for their selfish gains.
Sanusi, who said he was a strong believer in a strong united Nigeria, believes that “once the problem of leadership is addressed,” most of the right decisions taken, and the system cleaned up of corruption, things would take a postive turn.
He said: “You hardly find a country that is homogenous and the same is with Nigeria,; that is why we are better together because if you try to divide the country, it will lead to further divisions and war like you have in Ethiopia and South Sudan.”
He pointed at the North, West, East, Niger Delta and Middle Belt, which were all not homogenous and asked, “How many parts are you going to divide this country to ensure it is homogenous? The challenge is not in our diversity, the challenge is in the inability of the leadership to forge a nation.
“We got out of a civil war and we are yet to start thinking like one country where people believe we are one. What happens is that from time to time we tend to have people in certain circles that see Nigeria as a place for extraction of rent and corruption.
“You have different class factions of the elite who profit from creating a stage for themselves. If you have a northern president, how does that affect a poor northerner who is unemployed? If you have a southern president, how does it affect the common man in the south? It may benefit just a few from that zone
“I am a strong believer in Nigeria and I feel we are better off as one country than a divided country. 70 per cent of our problems are from wrong-headed policies.”