Former emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II has said the Federal Government’s decision to relocate some members of staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from Abuja to Lagos is a “sensible move”.
The CBN recently announced plans to move its banking supervision department to Lagos.
Northern Senators Forum (NSF), raising concerns over the plan, said it would engage the federal government.
But Sanusi, in a comment posted in a WhatsApp group, dismissed those against the relocation as “playing dirty politics”.
“Moving certain functions to the Lagos office (which is bigger than the Abuja head office) is an eminently sensible move,” Sanusi said.
“It makes eminent strategic sense. And I would have done this if I had stayed.
“All this noise is absolutely unnecessary. The CBN has staff manning its branches and cash offices across the federation.
“Moving staff to the Lagos office to streamline operations and make them more effective and reduce cost is a normal prerogative of management.
“The problem we have now is that many employees are children of politically exposed persons and their Abuja life and businesses are more important than the CBN work.”
However, Sanusi said the CBN needs to get a few things right.
According to the economist, the first is the question of locating functions which he described as “strategic and not tactical one”, calling for a “proper analysis to be done, to identify which roles are best suited to Lagos and which to Abuja”.
He said once the logic is clear, the people will then follow, adding that non-communication of strategic intent “opens the door to mischievous misrepresentation and arbitrariness”.
“Second, individual situations should be considered. As much as possible we should be empathetic. For example young mothers with kids in school who do not need to move can be prioritised to stay in Abuja or those with medical conditions, etc,” Sanusi said.
“Third, the CBN needs to focus on the exchange rate and inflation. Once it has control of these, it earns credibility. Once CBN has credibility the governor is untouchable.
“So long as people think CBN has lost control of its key mandate, everyone can make it a target and simple things like this- staff movement- become an issue it has to defend itself on.
“When the CBN delivers on its mandate it can push through any changes no matter how tough and ignore the noise.”
Speaking further on how the structure should be, the former CBN governor said he had planned to do the same thing while in office but did not have sufficient time.
“In my mind what I would have done was to move FSS and most of operations to Lagos such that the two deputy governors would be largely operating out of Lagos or, even if they were more in Abuja, the bulk of their operational staff would be in Lagos,” Sanusi said.
“Economic policy, corporate services and all the departments reporting to the governor directly such as strategy, audit, risk management, governors’ office etc would remain in Abuja.
“My advice to the governor is to go ahead with his policy. Once the CBN starts bending to political pressure on one thing it will continue doing so.”
Sanusi said “ethnic and religious bigots will always shout” but the “CBN should rise above it and just do what needs to be done”.
He added that the job of the CBN governor is an unpopular and difficult one and the “governor needs to be tough”.