The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, on Wednesday fired back at those calling for his removal, saying they missed the point.
The CBN governor said his removal would not change the political structure of the country which he said could not guarantee economic development in its current form.
“So if you sack the Governor of Central Bank, does it change anything? It is not the solution; the solution is to face this reality,” Sanusi said at the financial regulators forum debate at the 18th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja. He insisted that the country had a bloated recurrent expenditure.
Sanusi had stirred the hornet’s nest recently when he called for the sack of 50 per cent of federal workers at the Annual Capital Market Retreat in Warri, Delta State.
He had said 70 per cent of the country’s earnings was being consumed by federal appointees, and stressed that cutting the workforce by half would assist in reviving the national economy.
Sanusi had consequently come under criticisms from many groups and individuals with the Nigeria Labour Congress president, Abdulwahed Omar, accusing him of always making major pronouncements to pursue anti-people policies.
But Sanusi at the debate on Wednesday said he was being pummelled for saying what would help the country’s development.
At the debate were the Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunmah Oteh; Director General, National Pension Commission, Mr. Muhammad Ahmad; and Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, among others.
The CBN governor said, “People say everything is about politics and let us go to the politics of it. For those of you who were in Warri, this is a country where we have 774 local government councils. In each council you have a chairman and a vice-chairman and maybe 10 councillors and some other aides.
“Take a state like Kano which used to be one state. But now it is Kano and Jigawa. When it was one state where you had one governor and maybe nine or 10 commissioners, I went to King’s College and Ahmadu Bello University on Kano State government scholarship. My parents didn’t pay, I was in King’s College and the state government even paid for my rail ticket from Lagos to Kano and back and I wasn’t the only one.
“Now what do you have? That one state has become two states, two governors, two deputy governors, 40 commissioners, maybe 80 legislators and only God knows how many special advisers and assistants they have.
“This is not about NLC or Trade Union Congress or the President or the National Assembly, but it is about us as a country deciding whether this constitution that we have chosen makes sense.”
He said the Nigerian constitution which made it compulsory that each state must have a minister had also contributed to the problem of the country, adding that no meaningful development would be made unless the problem was looked at critically.
He said, “The constitution says that there must be a minister from every state of the federation. Let me ask you, as intelligent and as educated human beings, what is the connection between the number of states and the number of ministries at the federal level.
“We are talking about federal character, so if you have 50 states today, must we have 50 ministries, if we have a 100 states must we have 100 ministries?
“I want to understand so if we create a state for the South-East since they say they want one more state, and then you must have one more minister and create a ministry even if we don’t need it. So because you have created one more state, the Federal Government must have a minister from that state.”
He pointed out that with the way political appointments were made in the country, it would be difficult for the people to remember who headed what ministry in the past.
Sanusi said, “Let us be realistic, between 1999 and now how many ministers have we had? You have 42, you do cabinet reshuffle and bring in another 42 and I am sure between 1999 and now we have had more than 200 ministers and how many of them can we really remember.
“Just to give you an idea of how ridiculous this is, if I ask you to name between 1999 and now the Nigerians who have been ministers how many can you remember? Why? Because they are so many and their jobs are so poorly defined and you cannot remember what they did because the only way to remember a man is based on what he did.”
He said political issues such as the federal character principle which had occupied the place of merit needed to be addressed.
“We cannot develop if government is spending 70 per cent of the nation’s revenue on itself and spending 30 per cent on the people. Is that a sensible situation?” Sanusi queried.
He said rather than calling for his sack the issue of bloated recurrent expenditure should be looked into, adding that no country in Africa used Nigeria’s political model because of its expensive nature.