Sanusi’s Faux Pas

Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was in Asaba, the Delta state capital recently to honour an invitation from the Sylvester Monye Foundation and deliver a lecture titled,“The Economy in Perspective: Consolidating the Gains of the Banking Sector Reforms”, as keynote speaker of the occasion.
In the said lecture, the brilliant Mallam took the banks, the stock exchange and the entire financial sector to the cleaners, with such expletives as “Casinos”, “gambling houses” and other such snide references.
There was no doubt that the brilliance of Mallam Sanusi was clear for everyone to see and he even got several generous rounds of applause for his very candid and sometimes caustic comments on the squandermania which has bedeviled the Nigerian society and leaders at both the political and economic constituencies.
One very trite and un-apologetically indicting comment about Delta state, delivered in a rather off-the-cuff manner, was well received by the eager audience and even the belated attempts by the CBN Czar to re-situate that statement of financial impropriety in the proper administrative context of a past leadership in the state, did little to dampen the damage which the indictment had inflicted on the present Delta state administration, in the eyes of an already excited congregation.
It was therefore with great surprise that a few days later, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took out paid advertorial in several leading national newspapers to refute the reports credited to the CBN Governor, claiming that Nigerian banks are gambling houses, at that Sylvester Monye sponsored lecture.
In a statement signed by Mr. Mohammed M. Abdullahi, Head Corporate Affairs of the CBN, the apex bank said emphatically that the Governor did not in anyway make such comments, insisting that from all intents and purposes, the news report was deliberately misrepresented for sensationalism by the media.
He said that what the CBN Governor had done at that lecture was simply to provided further clarification on why the CBN had to intervene in 2009 in the banking sector.
According to the statement, “In throwing more light on how the rescued banks eroded their capital base and jeopardized depositors’ funds, he likened what transpired at that period to gambling by those, who as professionals, ought to know that their actions would impact negatively on the financial system.”
The advertorial further quoted the CBN Governor as saying that the management of some of the rescued banks during the period did not entirely raise fresh capital, but deployed depositors’ fund through collusion with some stock brokers in buying their respective shares in the stock market and manipulating the prices, thereby creating a bubble which would eventually burst with dire consequences – a situation he alluded to as similar to what operates at the Casinos.
At the end of the very tedious explanation, Mallam Abdullahi, as to be expected, called on the media to de-emphasize sensationalism in their reportage of such sensitive issues that might send wrong signals to the market with negative repercussions on the economy.
Two things stand out clearly in the attempt by the management of the CBN to  put a spin on what Mallam Sanusi said or did not say. The first is that when big institutions like the CBN embark on a damage control initiative  over a media report like they did with the CBN Governor’s comment then you know that something has definitely gone wrong somewhere. Secondly, it is almost impossible to really pin Malalm Sanusi down on the reported comments, especially the one that concerned Delta state, because the paper was delivered with a Power Point mode, which meant that all comments not contained in the original text can not be substantiated and only sensation seeking reporters, if the CBN disclaimer is to be believed, will reproduce them for propaganda effect.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanisi committed a classical faux pas with his comments during the Sylvester Monye Foundation lecture and those who know the Mallam well will confirm that, this is actually his forte and that he may actually have be guffawing behind his comical bow-tie when he read the refutal from CBN.
Mallam Sanusi’s faux pas, though not welcomed by many, especially in Delta state,  was surely a revealing aside for the audience in Asaba and the rest of the world that read the reports the next day. Perhaps for the benefit of the rest of us, it may be necessary for such faux pas to be thrown into our existence if only to ease some of the drudgery which we have to live through on daily basis and most importantly give the ordinary man a small chance to get one back at the big guys once in a while

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