Sanusi backs relocation of CBN units and departments to Lagos

Former Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has thrown his weight behind the decision to relocate some departments of the apex bank from Abuja to Lagos. According to him, it was the right thing to do and had no political undertone to it.

There have been criticisms in some quarters since the CBN announced the relocation of some departments and units to Lagos. Some northern politicians kicked against the move, warning it would have political consequences.

However, in a statement released, Sanusi who was sacked as CBN governor in April 2014 by then President Goodluck Jonathan, said the relocation is an “eminently sensible move”.

“Moving certain functions to the Lagos office ( which is bigger than the Abuja head office) is an eminently sensible move. 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.

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. It makes eminent strategic sense. And I would have done this if I had stayed.”

He dismissed the opposition against the policy as “absolutely unnecessary” because “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. The CBN is just an address for them and if they have to choose between their spoilt Abuja life and the job, they would gladly leave the CBN.  All the more reason for the Governor to put his foot down and get rid of those elements that are dangerous for the bank’s future. The question of locating functions is a STRATEGIC and not a tactical one. A proper analysis should be done to identify which roles are best suited to Lagos and which to Abuja.  Once the logic is clear the people then follow. Non-communication of strategic intent opens the door to mischievous misrepresentation and arbitrariness. I don’t like the idea of arguing that the office structure can not handle the staff numbers. I am sure Julius Berger would refute that if they wanted to engage.”

On how the relocation of staff should be done, he suggested;

 “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.”

He advised the CBN not to bend to political pressure, saying it must push through decisions no matter how tough.

“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. Northern politicians will shout that this is moving from Abuja to Lagos. Abuja is a federal capital, not a northern issue. So long as this is a principled decision the noise should be ignored. When I was about to license Jaiz Bank there was a lot of religious noise from CAN etc. Even enlightened people like Okey Emelamah were going to sue me to court on religious grounds. I ignored it and licensed the bank. Nothing happened.  A Christian Governor after me licensed at least two more non-interest banks. No one is even noticing again.  Ethnic and religious bigots will always shout. The CBN should rise above it and just do what needs to be done. It is a very unpopular and difficult job and the Governor needs to be tough.”

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