Sometime in 2014, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, spoke extensively about the dangers the fear of vested interests posed to the future of this country.
Sanusi, then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was guest speaker at the TEDxYouth platform which held in Maitama, Abuja. He explained how much he had learnt in a little over four years as CBN Governor at the time he delivered the lecture and that unless Nigerians re-assessed it’s condoning of vested interest, it would remain underdeveloped.
I imagine that a lot of us, and that includes yours truly, had then scoffed at Sanusi’s postulation wondering if he was not part of the rot that the country had become. And we were right but it was good and refreshing to hear a member of Nigeria’s oppressive elite group speak the truth about the evil of their ravenous instincts.
See this quote from Sanusi’ speech : “The fundamental character of the Nigerian state is that for decades since we found oil, it has existed, not to serve the people but as a site for rent extraction by a very small minority that controls political power. It doesn’t matter where this group comes from. Whether it’s north or South or Muslim or Christian or military or civilian, the State has always been the sites for the extraction of rent with the exception of a few years that we can think of, when we’ve had development. This is at the heart of the problems of this country.”
This was after he had exposed some of the sharp practices that went on in the banking sector which he then superintended over.
Sanusi spoke about the phenomenal fleecing going on in the banks; he spoke about the scam that the fuel subsidy was and how vested interests were at the root of all Nigeria’s problems ranging from religious and ethnic crises, to unemployment, to the lack of education and he lack of health care. All the way, there are people who profit from the poverty and underdevelopment of this country. And they will go ro any length to pave ways for themselves.
A couple of years back, a senior friend of mine, who was in a position to know, confirmed my suspicions that the loud public hearing set up by the House of Representatives into the expenditure incurred by the President Olusegun Obasanjo was nothing but a massive scheme to enrich members of the committee in charge.
He told of the day they came to the company he then worked at and how they refused to even take seats to see the PowerPoint presentation that had been prepared. Instead, they boldly asked for the “other thing” that should have been prepared for them. This meant that even if every other factor was intact, without preparing some monetary incentive, the committee could go ahead and blacklist the company concerned, who would query the vested interests.
I am sure readers know that this is not farfetched at all. We couldn’t have so easily forgotten the Faruk Lawal/ Femi Otedola episode in which the former reps was accused of having demanded a certain amount of money in exchange for clearing Femi Oteloda’s company from any misdemeanor in the subsidy scam saga. That case is still in court.
We have heard stories of government agencies buying travel tickets for legislators who have oversight responsibilities over them, that is in addition to giving them allowances and paying for their accommodation. Now, doesn’t that explain the lax oversight from legislators whether it is aviation, education, banking, health or the economy.
The common feeling is simply that when you hear of a public hearing involving some agencies, someone’s palm is itching from a need for grease.
How the nation now hopes to survive the irresponsible disrespect for due process by those in authority is what I do not understand. Government officials in all arms of government, traditional rulers, politicians and leaders across sectors in the country will insist on the rules when dealing with other people but they have become masters at circumventing those same rules when their own self interests are concerned.
It is only in Nigeria that people will get contracts, connive with public officers to get paid without executing those contracts and blackmail anyone who insists that they must do what they have been paid for. How really does a country where some people have become permanently above the law become great?
So I agree with Sanusi. Unless we overcome the fear of vested interests and terminate them, Nigeria ain’t going nowhere!