By Wilson Idahosa Aiwuyor
Sanusi Lamido, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, has been named among the 100 most influential people in 2011 by Time magazine. He makes the list along with folks like US Vice President Joe Biden, US First Lady Michelle Obama, talk show host Oprah Winferey, renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Mr. Sanusi, 49, is widely respected in Nigeria and beyond for bringing his reformist and no-nonsense personality to sanitize the Nigerian banking industry. He was appointed in June 2009 as head of the Central Bank of Nigeria at the height of the financial crisis. He sacked eight powerful and corrupt bank CEOs, published the names of big debtors whose debts had endangered Nigeria’s financial institutions, and opened the way for the prosecution of corrupt and influential people involved in fraudulent banking business.
Under Sanusi, 16 senior bank officials have faced charges for fraud, lending to fake companies, giving loans to companies they had a personal interest in and conspiring with stockbrokers to boost share prices. Sanusi ensured that some of the debts were recovered. He restored confidence in Nigeria’s financial sector at the height of the global financial crisis.
Some analysts have even stated that the USA needed a Sanusi Lamido to help it sanitize its financial sector, where bankers that plunged the economy into the Great Recession were never held responsible for their recklessness.
Sanusi is not afraid to speak truth to power. In 2010, he was summoned by Nigeria’s highest lawmakers in the country’s National Assembly for cautioning that they posed a threat to the country’s future by consuming up to 25 per cent of the country’s annual budget. All efforts by the lawmakers to intimidate Sanusi into recanting his statement failed. He repeated his statement before the lawmakers as a note of caution in the interest of the Nigerian people.
Sanusi has also confronted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its flawed economic advice. In February, he rejected the advice by the IMF to weaken the Nigerian currency, naira. He asserted that the advice was based on flawed logic.
No doubt, Sanusi is an inspiration to young generation of Nigerians and Africans who are passionate about using their career to contribute to Africa’s transformation and to speaking truth to power, regardless of whose horse is gored.
We at Face2faceAfrica celebrate the achievement of Mr. Lamido Sanusi. He is contributing to restoring Africa’s image.