Long before Sanusi Lamido became the Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, there had been ripples in Nigeria’s banking industry. The recapitalization mandated by Malam Sanusi’s predecessor saw a number of banks embarking on forced mergers while 14 banks that failed to meet the N 25 billion requirement had their licenses revoked.
Street Journal’s findings revealed that Bukola Saraki and a number of executives of some other banks were involved in the process that gave Malam Lamido Sanusi the CBN Governor’s job in the first place. Saraki was known to have the ears of the late President Yar’Adua and he and former Governor James Ibori nominated people into key positions in the Yar’Adua administration. The whole thing started towards the end of the termination of the tenure of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo in 2009, some of the Managing Directors of the “failed banks” felt aggrieved and came together to form a structure that would ensure that they have a certain amount of control on the banking industry.
While the Federal Government was shopping for a replacement for Soludo, the group too was shopping for a candidate that would suit their purpose. The group made of executives of some of the 14 banks, some government officials and other aggrieved parties had hatched a plan to take over five of the banks that were certified healthy after the consolidation programme.
They hatched a perfect plan that the ideal candidate would work upon, the first move was to ensure the exit of Professor Soludo after the expiration of his first term in office. The second was to cause a stir that would make depositors lose confidence in some of the consolidated banks, especially the ones on their target list. With that done and their man as the Governor of the apex bank, getting the Government to wade in and inject funds into the banking industry would not be difficult.
Names that came up while the group searched for the ideal Governor included Mallam Falalu Bello, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Dr, Shamsideen Usman, a former Deputy Governor of the CBN and former Minister as well as Obadiah Mailafia, who had also served as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank. The name of Mallam Isa Yuguda, the Governor of Bauchi State also came up.
The plan was that the Government would buy a stake in the targeted banks and such stake would end up being sold to the aggrieved members of the group who will end up on the board of such banks
Street Journal’s investigations revealed that Sanusi’s antecedents as an Executive Director in charge of Risk Management and Control gave him preference over the others. Findings revealed that the mode of operation was to capitalise of the loopholes in the bank consolidation reform and move against the five “selected” banks.
When the Central Bank of Nigeria injected N 400 billion into the five banks and the Managing Directors of Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank, Union Bank, Finbank and Afribank were sacked, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who had assumed duties as the Central Bank Governor said “we had to move in to send a strong signal that such recklessness on the part of bank executives will no longer be tolerated. The apex bank went ahead to publish the lists of debtors of the banks that were taken over ” Though he never claimed to be one, many felt the saint that would cleanse the banking sector of all filth had arrived. The apex bank went ahead to publish the lists of debtors of the banks that were taken over.
As at that time, only a few people could read the handwriting on the wall. As events began to unfold however, it became clear that the CBN Governor was more or less a puppet whose strings were being pulled by some “powerful elements”.
Not a few people were stunned by the fact that Intercontinental Bank was eventually bought by a company whose Directors’ names appeared on the list its debtors. Almost everything about the take over and sale of the bank had an element of controversy or the other.
The tale of the loan waiver amounting to billions of Naira granted Dr. Bukola Saraki is already being investigated. Meanwhile, Street Journal also found out that Saraki was not alone in the push for the candidacy of Lamido Sanusi for the CBN top job, findings revealed that Isa Yuguda, the Bauchi Governor too had a stake in the matter, being a stakeholder in Finbank. The Wabara brothers too were interested, as Marc Wabara’s Hallmark Bank was lost to the recapitalization move.