A national Australian newspaper reported that an affiliate company of the Reserve Bank of Australia is under Federal Police investigation for allegedly bribing Nigerian and CBN officials in a cash-for-contracts scandal. the alleged contract, awarded during the tenure of Prof. Soludo at the CBN, was for the newly launched polymer Naira notes. Moreover, If Nigerian banks were so much in a precarious state, due to sharp practices of bank executives, which was encouraged (directly or indirectly) by the leadership of Prof. Soludo, then why would the same person be handpicked by the ruling party for a Governorship seat?
Prof. Charles Soludo: The Case of Moral Integrity by Seyi Osiyemi
After weeks of political machinations, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finally announced the nomination of the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Prof. Charles Soludo as its flag bearer for February 2010 Anambra State Governorship elections. Following an injunction from the Anambra state High Court against the planned governorship primaries, the former CBN governor was handpicked by the PDP national executive after the 47 aspirants failed to reach a consensus.
There is no doubt that, only very few surpass Prof. Soludo in academic achievements, intellectual capacity and expertise. His curriculum vitae speak volumes.
Whether good or bad, he left an indelible mark on the nation’s banking sector. But that been said; does Prof. Soludo have the moral integrity to run for a State Governorship seat?
For me, the handpicking of Prof. Soludo is a slap on the face of Anambra State electorate. It also reaffirms the notion that our political class are mentally devoid of moral integrity.
It is on record, that during his time at the Apex Bank, Prof. Soludo oversaw the biggest consolidation in the nation banking history. This achievement as we know, won him numerous awards in and outside of Nigeria.
There is no doubt that the Nigerian banking sector was revolutionalised under his leadership. But at the same time he got carried away while carrying out his regulatory functions. He became the ‘best friend’ of the CEOs, wining and dining with top bank executives.
As the regulator of the nation’s banking industry, he colluded with bank executives to hide the rot in the banking system. He encouraged the recklessness and excessive risks taken by bank executives.
And when it became glaring the banks were in trouble, it is alleged that Prof. Soludo “threatened the banks with sanctions if they disclosed that the capital of some of their peers had been eroded”.
Instead of dealing with the crisis, he was always quick to blame the banking crisis on ‘de-marketing’ tactics employed by some banks to take away customers from their peers.
Even at the height of the global financial crisis, he was quoted as saying, “Nigeria’s economy cannot go into recession” (!). Despite the sharp fall in price of crude oil and rapid depletion of the nation’s foreign reserve, Prof. Soludo had the guts – without any sound justification – to say that Nigeria’s economy was immune from the global recession!
When countries were injecting monies into their banking system to mitigate the impact of the world financial crisis, Prof. Soludo claimed that Nigerian banks are very strong, hence do not need any government ‘bail-outs’. He in fact noted that, “it is the banks that will bail-out the government” (!).
So what am I saying? The selection of Prof. Soludo sends a very worrying signal. The decision makes mockery of Lamido Sanusi banking reforms.
It further lends credence to the conspiracy theory (which I do not subscribe to) that Lamido Sanusi is acting the script of the northern oligarchs.
If I belong the ethnic agenda camp, the question I will be asking is, if the banks were so much in a precarious state, due to sharp practices of bank executives, which was encouraged (directly or indirectly) by the leadership of Prof. Soludo, then why would the same person be handpicked by the ruling party for a Governorship seat?
This decision of course, indirectly exonerates Prof. Soludo from any complicity in the ongoing banking scandal. The decision therefore calls into question the “real” intentions of the ongoing “Sanutization”.
Also just last week, a national Australian newspaper reported that an affiliate company of the Reserve Bank of Australia is under Federal Police investigation for allegedly bribing Nigerian officials in a cash-for-contracts scandal.
The alleged contract, awarded during the tenure of Prof. Soludo at the CBN, was for the newly launched polymer Naira notes.
Similar to the Halliburton scandal, these bribes were paid out to the Nigerian officials through two British businessmen who acted as proxies.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Nigerian officials have been named in cash-for-contract scandal. Whilst investigation is still ongoing in Australia, there’s been no official comment from the government on this matter.
Prof. Soludo has also not said anything about his involvement in this matter, despite the fact that the contract was awarded during his tenure.
In civilized societies, an allegation of such gravity is enough make a politician step down from office, talk less of having the audacity to run for a political position.
However, in our society it is business as usual, as no one bothers to investigate such allegations.
With Prof. Soludo almost guaranteed to win the state governorship election, this effectively grants him immunity for eight years (if he seeks re-election). After which it will all be case closed.
The election of Prof. Soludo as the Governor of Anambra state wouldn’t come as surprise to many.
It is only in Nigeria that elected politicians with corruption cases hanging over their heads are sitting in the federal parliament legislating federal laws.
It is only in Nigeria that a candidate can be elected into office, while being detained in prison.
And we call this democracy?
Seyi Osiyemi is a Transportation Planner and Public Analyst. He currently lives in Brisbane, Australia.