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The risk taker as a risk manager

But that is not the issue at stake today.  Lamido Sanusi has a unique appellation today as Mr Risk.  His forte is risk management, which…

But that is not the issue at stake today.  Lamido Sanusi has a unique appellation today as Mr Risk.  His forte is risk management, which is essentially what the banking industry needs in Nigeria today.  Even the government in general needs to begin to adopt the prudence and measured steps that underlies risk management.  Therefore monetary policy, as well as banking regulation should henceforth reflect the gravitation towards a more disciplined era, which in fact is the only hope for the survival of this country.  

I am more fascinated though by Mr Sanusi’s wiring as a risk-taker, who happens to now be the nation’s best risk manager.  Indeed it may be that one needs to be a great risk-taker in order to appreciate the nature and ramification of risk, and perhaps to understand the implications of ignoring the power of risk to destroy the biggest and best of structures.  

As private sector practitioners, we are faced by a battery of rules and regulations seeking to guide our conduct, but which eventually merely conform us into the desired mould that the organisation where we earn our keep deems it fit for us to be.  In other words, what the organisation seeks to do by laying the rules, is to essentially stick us all into predefined pigeon holes.  While we are in the process of being pigeon-holed, many of us generally lose that part of our conscience that tell us that we need to care about the larger society; that our wealth is nothing if we are unable to enjoy it within our God-given natural enclave.   The capitalists who run businesses then manage to convince us that all that matters is that we make our own ‘dough’ and damn the rest of society.  Of course the results of that common approach is evident for all to see, as we daily battle issues like armed robberies, kidnapping, and of course corruption in high, and low, places.

In the run-up to Lamido’s confirmation, a lot of emails were flying around alleging all sorts of things, from his being an extremist to being a radical misogynist.  Some tried to paint a picture of a tribalist, and a paper he delivered in 1999 showed up.  I recently had time to read and digest that paper and hereunder present my take on it.  I must state however that it is commendable for this gentleman to have stuck his neck out and let his views be heard, as an AGM then in UBA Plc.  Most of his colleagues would have cowered, but Lamido’s braveness and sheer sense of conviction, aside from his parentage and risk management pedigree, would have somehow contributed to his being at the exalted position today.  Young people growing up today are being told that they have to be ‘google-able’.  Many go through life without leaving as much as a fingerprint, much less footprints on the sands of time.  The only fingerprint many youth leave these days is their bad records with the police.

My take on the famous paper titled ‘Issues in Restructuring Corporate Nigeria’ delivered at the National Conference on the 1999 Constitution at Arewa House in Kaduna is this:  the paper was written with great eloquence and an in-depth understanding of history and of the many problems facing Nigeria as a country.  I learnt in that paper, the positions taken by the leaders of Northern Nigeria post independence and the consequences, as well as the fact that those same views are being embraced by people from other sections of the country today, who had accused those Northern leaders as ‘tribalists’ or ‘territorialists’.  

The paper, in its take on equity in the Nigerian system, in my view, abbreviated the diversity of the Nigerian populace.  Taking up his proposition that the Mohammeds, Chukwumas, Obafemis, Ishayas and Ekpenyongs need to be considered in the allocation of positions in this country, I quickly added the Iornems, Timipres, Wagbaraochas, Ofems, Odeys, Ejehs, Zirras, Attahs, Ozigis and so many more who represent the tapestry of tribes many times forgotten in the great scramble for wealth and positions in Nigeria.

There were cogent truths presented in the paper too, like the admittance that ultimately people will only work to serve their own interests and that it is difficult to extricate oneself totally from a protection of the self.  To this extent, Lamido admitted that the struggle of the Tivs in today’s Benue State was truncated by the powerful North, which gave Bendel State ‘independence’ from the West out of spite.  Yes, Lamido expressed a few extreme views about the politicians from the South West in the paper, and his views could easily be interpreted to include everybody from that part of the country, but I am of the view that everyone of us does fall from time to time for that inescapable tendency to stereotype.  

The difference is how quickly we snap out of our tribalistic trance and acknowledge that indeed there are good and bad people from everywhere. I draw much strength from his conclusion in that paper that only constructive intellectual engagement can lift this country out of the present morass, and that will mean that really committed people with the right values are allowed to lead the constituent parts of the country; people who can engage constructively and thrash out our worst fears amongst ourselves.  

It is clear though that those ‘good’ men will not be gifted leadership positions but will have to fight for their shirts.  A note of caution to Lamido’s optimism though; many of the young ‘new Nigerians’ in whom he placed his hopes of a Nigerian redemption have long slid back into that primitive mode, and many more are doing so today.  The long wait for a saviour has tired out most souls in Nigeria.

By and large, Lamido’s bravery, past and present, is commendable; and the paper is a must read for all students of modern Nigeria history.