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Is Sanusi Lamido Really About Ethnic Agenda As Cbn Governor?

Stemming Northern marginalization: In defence of Sanusi

By Shehu Abubakar

THERE is no sphere in Nigeria that clearly evidences the growing loss of relevance of Northern Nigeria as much as the banking sector. And it is a rude shock that many Nigerians of whatever persuasion - Christian or Muslim, southerner or northerner - do not appear to note the danger in this strange imbalance in a country in which all sections are supposed to develop at par. Even our "human rights activists" do not appear to be concerned with the fact that with ownership of banks and financial institutions so skewed to one section of the country, the associated long-run economic disempowerment of the other section is not only unjust but could spell economic doom for the entire country. In this regard, it is difficult not to see Charles Soludo's bank consolidation exercise as a deliberate ploy to marginalise the North.

There is a building in central Kano. Known as the Ahmadu Bello Building, it is, with about 12 storeys, the tallest building in all of Kano. That building used to be the head-office of Bank of the North. All of its floors were busy, occupied by executives rendering a core service to various sectors of the economy. If you visited the Ahmadu Bello Building in the '80s after its commissioning and even down to the last 10 years, it was a beehive of activities. You would see hordes of bank workers and customers.

Today, that building is nothing but a relic of the past. Only one or two floors are in use and close to 80 per cent of what ought to be prime property occupied by one of the most vibrant economic growth drivers of northern Nigeria is in a sorry state of decay. Indeed the building erected at great cost in 1980s is slowly coming to ruin. Its elevators when they manage to work are death traps and lack of maintenance is taking a serious toll on what used to be the pride of every resident of Kano, indeed every northerner. The Ahmadu Bello Building is only one victim of the recent banking consolidation exercise of former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Charles Soludo. Today, in forcefully merging Bank of North with several other strange bed-fellows, the CBN has deprived the people of Kano and by extension, northern Nigeria of the extensive benefits that this regional bank used to provide.

Bank of the North never aspired to be anything other than a regional bank. Its sphere of influence was very clearly defined and in our constitutional democracy was very legitimate. It existed clearly to help propel people from the northern part of our country from the fringe to the very mainstream of economic development. And all the state governors in the north subscribed to this and invested accordingly in this bank. Does it not amount to a breach of the rights of the people of the north for such a bank to be forcefully decreed out of existence as the CBN under Soludo did?

It is doubtful how much of its very clearly defined and articulated goals are understood by Unity Bank the quasi-national institution which Bank of the North was forced to metamorphose into. It is even more doubtful if in its efforts to demonstrate that it is a national bank, Unity Bank can connect anymore to the needs and aspirations of the peoples of northern Nigeria. Obviously just as it may be impossible for anyone who did not grow up in the creeks of the Nigeria Delta to fully appreciate the intricacies of life in that part of the country, so it is for those who have not truly experienced life in the core north to fully appreciate life in that part of Nigeria. And this is vital if a bank is to truly optimise its impact on the community. It is not only Bank of the North that lost out in this bizarre exercise of the CBN that headlined the leadership of Soludo. Intercity Bank also lost out. This predominantly northern bank no longer exists.

But if banks like Intercity and Bank of the North could be said to be regional banks focused on the north, Habib Bank was not. A clearly northern bank with professional and ethical tenets founded on the principles of Islam, Habib Bank even though a very successful northern-dominated bank, provided services on a national scale. With a presence across the country, it was a bank with which lots of northerners shared affiliation at various levels - commercial, cultural and spiritual. Consequently, it was common to see the Hausa or Fulani tailor in Ebute-Metta in Lagos for instance, go the extra mile to establish a banking relationship with a Habib Bank located all the way on Awolowo Road in Ikoyi. This was his own bank and banking with it was more than an ordinary transaction.

In the aftermath of Soludo's consolidation, Habib Bank simply disappeared. It was subsumed into a contraption that appeared confused as to who it was and what role it wanted to play in the economy. Rather, the new contraption appeared almost hell-bent on further emasculating the legacy of Habib completely out of existence. Otherwise, how does one explain the phenomenal growth of the legacy Platinum Bank in the new Bank PHB contraption? How does one explain its desperation to buy over first Afribank and later, Spring Bank if not part of the grand ploy to further dilute and completely annihilate the legacy of Habib?

It is in the light of these distortions in what ought to be a delicate economic balance in our country, that we must appreciate the interventions of Lamido Sanusi, our new CBN Governor. It does not need a professor of macro-economics to make us realise that the skewed nature of ownership of banks across the country could only have further spelt doom for us as it clearly worsened the economic disadvantage of Northern Nigeria. With more than 20 bank CEOs from the south of Nigeria, only Falalu Bello of Unity Bank is a Northerner. Indeed the only other northern bank CEO in the last six years was Sanusi himself and in all, he spent less than six months in office!

As Nigerians we must learn to begin to tell ourselves the truth. Soludo's banking consolidation may have benefitted the south but was a big disservice to the north and consequently may have been a disservice to the entire country. Sanusi's efforts to redress this situation should not be derided by elitist and self-seeking apostles of regional politics. Ultimately, the poor in Lafia, Gagagarawa, Zuru and Birnin Kebbi, need specialised banking and financial support like his counterpart in Koko, Uyo and Ogoni. This can, however, never happen if all the banks in Nigeria are southern banks, dressed in the self-deceptive toga of national banks.

Thankfully, the CBN has since systematically assumed control of Bank PHB and hopefully, should in due course extend its control to Unity Bank. Without prejudice to whatever misdemeanors by executives of the former that warranted the take-over, the CBN may wish to consider dismantling these unnecessary, fake and inefficient behemoths into the focused and efficient banking institutions which at least some of their components used to be. Let Habib Bank and Bank of the North re-emerge from these institutions as part of the new focus of the CBN to encourage regional and specialised banking. We can only further drive holistic economic growth and development if we empower every segment of our country to progress together.

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13 answers

Sanusi's house of cards are crashing on him

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according to Sanusi

Political uncertainty has no impact on the economy

see thread below for details

http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria/topic-408661.0.html

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biina,

Grab a copy of the Guardian newspaper of March 04, 2010 and check its editorial for the story. I mentioned that in my second post but you wouldn't see that because your nerves have been engrossed in sentiments.

I used to be like you, rationalizing everything in this country especially the one-sided and ethnocentric regime of IBB and Abacha (You may argue that they were not elected) until i met a hausa friend in 2005 while living in Abuja. The guy told me that come 2007, the north will not only be gunning for political power but also for economic power. He said Obasanjo has opened their eyes to the fact that it is the guys with economic powers that eventually call the shots. Now, in 2010; 5 years after, my colleagues down south will say it is a mere co-incidence that Lamido is CBN governor hunting and destroying economic players from the south, Dangote is now Presdient of NSE where they were supposedly manipulating shares of their companies and almost all the decision makers in the economy are from Katsina and Kano States, really a mere coincidence??

I really dont want to fan the embers of ethnic discord but this Shehu guy has really nip it in the bud that the clamour for reversal of consolidation many years back has now found fulfillment in Lamido's governance of the CBN.

Now all the CEOs appointed by Sanusi to the 'rescued' banks are tired brains, just wait for time to tell you this.

Lastly, the problem of the country is you elites from the south who try to rationalize everything. Don't be deceived, this country is not one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The earlier you guys wake up to this reality, the better.

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Even ignoring the big wigs, if those northern banks were aimed at the region like the writer is claiming, why couldn't all three banks come together to form one and preserve their interest in the region or did soludo pick partners for them to merge with.

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if any of the northern banks lost out in the consolidation - they only have themselves to blame.

there are several hausa and fulani big wigs who could have dropped the 25 billion without breaking a sweat

the indifference of the northern elite is the real reason the northern banks lost out in the consolidation exercise

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My response to taht article here:

http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/guest-articles/how-not-to-defend-sanusi.html

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- are you a northerner

- have u sampled the opinions of other 'average northerners'?

- have you verified that the name Shehu Abubakar is genuine and not a pseudonym and or that the guy is truly a northerner?

- given that you agree with his opinions, why can we not consider the possibility that the article was written by you?

Even so, assuming this is the opinion of the 'average northerner', what evidence have you that Lamido shares the same views. Where is the evidence of the "quota system and federal character in banking" you accuse him of

He has appointed 8 interim CEOs to the distressed banks: Lai Alabi (Intercontinental Bank), Funke Osibodu (Union bank), John Aboh (Oceanic bank),  Nebolisa Arah (Afribank), Susan Eroche (FinBank), Mr. Cyril Chukwumah (Bank PHB) Mr. G.O. Folayan (ETB), and Mrs. Sola Ayodele (Spring Bank Plc). How many of them are northerners? Which bank has been taken over by northerners?

Its a shame that Nigerians often like to reduce everything to ethnicity and tribalism, and that so many southerners find it difficult to accept that a northerner could actually be succeeding where his southern predecessors have failed.

While the predominantly Muslim north may differ in orientation, and priorities, than the southerners, it is arrogant of you to proclaim that your view of things as absolutely right and  accuse them of holding 'us' back. You are no better than the Europeans that call us uncivilized simply because our ways are different. The only things that has ever held Nigeria back are the greed and corruption of all our leaders (irrespective of origin) and the complicity of people like you who shy away from the truth and instead try to foment ethnic sentiments.

I doubt you have ever been to the North nor interacted actively with the northerners you claim so much expertise on. You should get off your high horse, and put your efforts to better use in trying to understand and appreciate people from other parts of the country, particularly where they are coming from. We should appreciate our diversity as a nation, and not continue to perpetuate the 'divide & rule' mentality that the British used so effectively against us.

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Thank God the people expressing these fears are in the minority. It's equally silly to read ethnic bias into everything.

some Northerners say Civil service reforms is Southern agenda against the North

some southerners say Banking reforms is Northern agenda against the south.

With this kind of bunker mentality, how is Nigeria not going to sink?

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Even though the consolidations had some "k-legs", Soludo made sure his policies catered 4 small business owners.

B4 the reforms, the community banks were 99% malfunctioning, bt He introduced the microfinanced banks which became very popular.

U cud c a market woman or an apprentice having a savings account in MFBs, which encouraged savings amongst petty business owners.

Some were given loans by dis MFBs.

Bt then d end point is dat we want a policy dat wud make life easier for the poor and rich in the Nigerian society.

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Accepted my guy.

I was actually taken aback to read this on the editorial of Guardian newspaper of March 04, 2010 and thought to share wilth all Nairalanders.

Its the opinion of an average northerner and this Shehu guy just brought to the fore the fears some of us have expressed about Lamido's agenda; the seeming introduction of "quota system and federal character in banking".

I just cannot fathom how a part of the country that is so reluctant to move forward will be allowed to hold others down. I'm sure very soon, they will fabricate something to say southerners should stop going to school for 50years so that the North can catch up.

Help!!!!!!!!!! Our country sinks!

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APOLOGY

Dear Me-self,

I am indeed very sorry for the error. I should be addressing the author of your post- Shehu Abubakar.

Please accept my sincere apologies.

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@ me self,

First of all , you have taken a very apt pen name and I take it that you know the baggage you are carrying.

I wish to tell you that Soludo did his best and he met a scenario where our brothers were asleep in virtually

all aspects of the economy. There was no saving/enterpreneur spirit formidable enough to establish banks, financial

and manufacturing institutions that could stand the rigours of time and competition. Who do you blame? certainly not

Soludo. Look in the mirror, my friend.

Where are your expired permsec/generals/ministers /group managing directors who have been on the gravy train since

independence. They go the best of everything from our founding fathers and as compensation they are chastising us

with scorpions . Name them - from A to Z. Some even want to die in the boardroom as professional chairmen/board members

and have done duty tours from UAC to wherever to NCC to such funny ones as business round table to NCC or wherever. They

have stolen us blind, attracted odium to a humble, trusting and hardworking people, because of their greed and ineptitude. Their

corruption has not allowed development in the north and we are seeing the consequences - deficits in all spheres of human

endeavour from health to education and commerce.

All Nigerian banks started business as regional banks - even First Bank. It did not start by putting up an office in London. Cut the crap.

You should have researched your theme before going to press. You are making Lamido's job more difficult.

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I also read that article in Guardian this morning and was utterly disappointed. . .and preparing a rejoinder already titled "How not to defend Sanusi'.

I'm surprised somebody educated enough to write that piece can have taht low level of reasoning. Even more surprising how Guardian, a paper that is very selective in the article it publishes, found that piece worthy of publishing.

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