Though stale, but the shock of the sack of high heaven Nigerian bankers still reverberates across the country. While other countries – France and Germany – gladly sailed away from the rocky waters of an economic recession – some glitterati bankers had sworn an oath with Amadioha (god of thunder) to continually enslave Nigeria in an economic trap. While the econometrics of Lamido Sanusi may be far off for mere mortals like us to comprehend, it is obvious that these booted money handlers are either ole (thieves), olodo (dullards) or both.
A discussion with a passionate economist and writer was not able to purge me of my doubts about the root cause of the rot in the banking sector. As much as I admit that incompetence and professional recklessness was behind this big fall, I still defer that taking an ethical holiday contributed heavily to the bank stench. When we lazily ignore the moral depth of the virtues as mere Victorian or a useless attempt of an idealistic past, then the present scenario in the banks will continue to be common place.
Nonetheless, I don’t intend to via into a pulpit recitation, for most of these booted bank CEO’s can quote the Holy Writ, more faultlessly than I can ever dream of. This is not surprising because there exists a huge gulf between what most people claim to believe and what they actually live up to. The virtues are the classical norms of conduct that were ascribed by ancient philosophers of yore. The cardinal virtues like prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, are the universal map that leads man in the voyage through life’s stormy waters.
Most of the axed bankers thought they were sharp, cooking their books and not disclosing the true affairs of their former banks. They gave loans without collateral, which seems odd because O’level Economics made that quite clear, admitting stock certificates as security, in a word, they were insincere and imprudent. Had they had practical wisdom (prudence), ‘the good according to reality’, they have not been that dumb. It shows that olenishness is ingrained in all men, be they banker or not, everyman has the propensity to cut corners for peculiarly gains. Why were they afraid of the sun, of spreading the accounts of their banks for all to gaze at? Simply put, in the short term their imprudence only tightened their grips on what has been run as a family business in most cases. In the long term, their jobs, fame, prestige and very soon their name, were all thrown into the lagoon.
While the stench may seem peculiar to the banks in question, individually and collectively it manifests the stink down under of the Nigerian nationhood. For many times we stagger like people with no sense of shame. This crisis may be economic in origin but the root causes have been laid by all. It is a reflection of the collapse of the basic moral foundation of individuals and society. Rather than burying our heads under the sand while exposing our down under to mercy of the elements, crying and shouting foul about these bankers, let every Nigerian do an internal audit. If we would not have acted like these disgraced bankers then there’s hope, if not, then God save us. This country is in need of strong institutions not strong men, the CBN seems to have woken up from a deep dream; it took a Mr Sanusi to do that. When will we evolve to the stage of needing not a Sanusi but the lids that are encrypted in our statues?
An olodo is one who is ignorant. Who can match the impressive credentials of these booted bankers? One amazing reality in this country is the imbalance between theory and practice. While some Nigerian professionals will hold their heads high across the seas, they seem to slump into paralysis once they return to these shores. Why, what then is in our air? Are our brains also dark as our skins? What happened to the impressive consolidation of the Soluldomanic era? Nigeria lacks not hot brains or good people. What she lacks are people who have integrated intelligence with integrity.
As the rubble continues to unfold, with the tremor in the strong room snatching more heads, let’s hope this will happen no more. Or worse still, it’s no smokescreen, for I am beginning to lose hope in banking reforms and their attendant noise, only for things to go back to business as usual. Mr Sanusi, please purge me of this cynicism!