My Name is Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
- Alexander Pope.
How much can be accurately attributed to a name? Philosophers have long been of a school of thought there is more to a name than a medium of identification and address. From the descriptivist theory of connotation and denotation to the referential, does a name go as far as embody the man? Is he defined within the confines of its derived and evolving meaning as much as the name is defined within the context of his being? Is the totality of man’s identity cocooned within this unique concept of association? Is ‘He’ more an extension of ‘It’ than ‘It’ is an extension of ‘He’?
Regardless of one’s disposition to the subject, the name is indeed the noun of our collective existence.
On the 1st of December 2010, the CBN governor S.L. Sanusi interestingly opted to respond to verbal attacks hauled his way by astutely re-introducing himself to his hosts, Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. One could forgive Sanusi for petulance if he indeed deemed it pertinent to frequently refresh the hollow consciousness surrounding him of the identity of its object. I however am inclined to believe his motives were of a more insightful nature. Hear me.
“My name is Sanusi Lamido Sanusi not Central Bank Governor”. On the spot and amidst vituperations of animated lawmakers, a composed Sanusi curtly made the above remark whose interpretation might have been lost on the evidently obtuse brigade of barking ‘honorables’.
Placed on the chamber’s chopping board was the Central Bank Governor as well as the individual L. Sanusi embodied in one. Both names, both identities and I daresay both institutions. In one lethal swipe Sanusi disarmed his hangman with a well-maneuvered claim to life. His message could not have been any clearer. ‘His existence and his office were in many ways mutually exclusive’ and ‘he would neither be blackmailed nor intimidated’. Yes he might be ‘The’ Central Bank Governor but just in the same capacity, he is ‘The’ Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The CBN Governor Sanusi represents an endangered species in the wildlife of Nigerian politics and governance. He represents a unique breed occupying its rightful niche on the food chain by virtue of true value and survival prowess. Such an individual has no cause to grip the temporary with ‘do or die’ tenacity.
Sanusi, like the dwindling ilk he represents, has over the years invested in himself and ultimately harvested a product of unquestionable value. He has successfully nurtured a life worth returning to after every temporary call to service; a concept very much alien to the average Nigerian politician and public servant.
Behind a Sanusi name there is a personality nourished in varying measures by both the person and the office. His relevance is unchanged outside the corridors of power. His self esteem is drawn from the fruits of his labor and not from the lips of praise singers and sycophants. His clothes, cars and assets are what they are, clothes cars and assets.
He will preserve his integrity in the face of temptation and stand firm in adversity. Ultimately, he will not have his arm twisted to submission by School Certificate holders.
Unfortunately this paradigm does not define the typical Nigerian elected office holder or public servant. With a featherweight name he is piqued when addressed without procured prefixes (Honorable/Senator/Dr./Sir XYX). The office he occupies defines him and gives him whatever sense of belonging he seeks. His ego is built on the surrounding quicksand of glitz and is sustained by an army of mellifluous sycophants. His conception of public service goes no further than who gets what; his understanding of politics is self preservation; a do or die affair, a fight to the finish. This individual is however savvy enough to appreciate his limitations. Such consciousness of his handicap precipitates the violent paranoia evident in all crannies of Nigeria’s political façade. He is aggressively vigilant, as an illegal squatter in another’s rightful abode should be.
It was Albert Einstein who said and I quote, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Same concern was implied by Alexander Pope in the opening verse above (Essay on Criticism 1711). It therefore transcends comprehension in certain quarters the continued existence, albeit erratic, of the sovereignty Nigeria given the characteristic ignorance celebrated by its ruling class (apologies to the honest & knowledgeable few). The lawmaker as his name implies is ultimately bestowed with the responsibility of defining as well as safeguarding our collective do’s and don’ts. By definition he exists to serve as the organ of representation and action; the ear of the people, the eye of the people, the limb of the people and indeed the voice of the people. While some would rightly attribute the failure of our parliamentary misadventure (and governance as a whole) to corruption and indiscipline, it would not be far-fetched to single out profound ineptitude as the most malignant of our tumors.
Like hapless relatives of the death-bound cancer patient, Nigerians have tearfully watched this disease feed on itself and spread exponentially to every fabric of our existence. However unlike the CBN governor, we will not resign without a fight.
Our lawmakers need reminding through every means possible that this nation Nigeria belongs to all of us. The parliament should serve as an extension of the court of public opinion and not a civilian barracks. Our lawmakers are clearly at a loss as to whom and what they represent. With egos large as their loot, these self-acclaimed deities threaten our delicate democracy by constantly blackmailing public opinion. In a shocking display of intolerance, while responding to recent criticism of the National Assembly, the Senate President issued a stern warning to all Nigerians saying “Continued attack on members of the National Assembly would no longer be accepted”. Really what planet are these men and women on? Mr. Senate President those words of yours are a brazen attack on the rights and freedom of 160 million Nigerians.
It is not in the National Assembly’s place to censor the opinion of the CBN governor especially when sensitizing the nation, as he is employed to, to its financial liabilities. It is left for the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Committee (RMAFC) and not an insolently audacious lawmaker to clarify as well as confirm if remuneration is ‘too much to ask for’. A dangerous monster is indeed incubating in our midst and this is the time to curb its growth. Like George Orwell’s pig (Animal Farm 1945), this animal is undoubtedly more equal than others. It wishes to be revered at all times. It will not tolerate criticism. A law unto itself, it will not be regulated and will account to no one.
Name the vice and this House of Villains will not disappoint. Celebrated pedophilia, box office motor-park confrontations, American wonder magic with lucrative bills (ala NCC SIM registration bill), tyrannical leadership, physical abuse and ejection of dissenting voices, bribery and corruption, debauchery, just name the vice. Now the monster wants some more. In the guise of balancing the influence of the Governors’ Forum, it seeks to spread its cancerous tentacles further up the mantle of leadership by hijacking the NEC of political parties.
A little learning, they say, is a dangerous thing. Our leaders lap the intoxicating shallow draught of the Pierian Spring. Like a house of cards this House is collapsing on itself. The common man bleeds for the ‘elected’ custodian of his future to wine and dine with the haughtiness of kings and queens.
Nigerians have been so mentally enslaved we resign to therapeutic laughter amidst our sufferings. WE Nigerians are the government. The country belongs to all of us, however realizing the Nigeria of our dreams calls for collective sacrifice. As individuals and as groups we must ask questions and demand answers. NUJ, NANS, NLC, NUT, religious bodies, critics, human rights activists, we all need to rise above moribund conventions and demand what is ours. And when the polls come calling we are duty-bound to ensure our choices count. We will sensitize our neighbors, we will vote and we will jealously guard our votes.
Whatever my name maybe, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Ayotunde Balogun, Olisaemeka Nwofor, I am a citizen of this nation Nigeria and that is the only constitutional prerequisite to my freedom, rights and privileges as a Nigerian. Sadly, Nigeria’s very own House of Horror has its own ideas and most unfortunately the final word….but for how much longer?
Nigerians deserve more. We demand transparency from our institutions and leaders. Our unborn children deserve a brighter tomorrow than today portends. It is about time to call off this madness. Let us rediscover the true feeling of hurt and permit ourselves the luxury (and unalienable right) of screaming out loud when it really burns. Where our leaders erect firewalls isolating them from the leprous common man, we shall knock them down and construct bridges. Our cries must be heard for if they neither know nor understand us how can they save us?