[SIZE=6]Come on now, Kenya’s new central bank governor is being thoroughly ‘unAfrican’[/SIZE]
02 Jul 2015 18:50 Chanda Adebola
The frugal ways of country’s incoming top banker, choosing to live in a “monastery” with no frills, are leaving many scratching their heads.
Njoroge who would have access to three luxury official cars, and a palatial house has turned down everything and will live in a communal setting with his fellow members of the Catholic Opus Dei, known for its frugal ways. (Photo/CBK/FB).
IN times gone by, a puzzled African elder might have said that Kenya’s new central bank governor Patrick Njoroge, had been “bewitched”. But to that we shall return shortly.
Earlier this year, a former central bank governor of a notable African country took to social media to complain of being denied the use of VIP facilities at his home airport.
“So when you retire from public service you become an unapproved person,” he lustily ventilated. “So much for dedication for so many years to country and people! Thanks.”
The retired official, an otherwise good man, was evidently used to all the perks of the office of an African central bank governor.
These governors essentially are supposed to make sure there is enough money for a country to spend, or more accurately in many cases, misspend. Their tactics tend to be varied, from regularly painting national doomsday narratives to empty wagging of the fingers at rapacious political elites to whom they owe their position, while claiming to speak for the ordinary man.
Former Malawi Reserve Bank governor, the aptly-named Perks Ligoya, raised eyebrows some years back when he asked Malawians to tighten their belts and shun imports of luxury goods as donors applied the squeeze on the country’s budget.
http://cdn.mg.co.za/crop/content/images/2015/07/02/sanusi2.jpg/600x350 Former Nigeria central bank governor and now Emir of Kano Lamido Sanusi found himself in the cold after he did an ‘un-African’ thing of whistleblowing. (AFP)
It was sound advice, only that he was at the same time building a multi-million kwacha swimming pool in his backyard at the governor’s residence, which the bank defended by helpfully clarifying that it was not at the governor’s private residence.
For their troubles at juggling troublesome African economies, they are often well remunerated—many earn more than their appointing authorities.
As expected, some just don’t practise what they preach— many rapidly go on to become among their country’s richest men, to the extent of setting up their own banks as in one case in Uganda. Those who miscalculate spend a fair chunk of their retirement years in court.
Others have been linked to all kinds of salacious scandals, including warming the beds of First Ladies.
But Kenya’s newly appointed central bank governor is threatening to upset the natural African order of things.
Patrick Njoroge already had tongues wagging when he revealed that at 54, he was single, and by choice. This is in a continent where at that age he is expected to be fondly patting the heads of his grandchildren as they noisily tut-tut by his knees.
His disclosure was in response to a rather irrelevant question by a parliamentary vetting team more keen on collecting sitting allowances, and many of whom stock a supply of mistresses in addition to their publicly recognised wives.
Njoroge, who would have access to three luxury official cars, chase vehicles and a palatial house in one of Kenya’s most upmarket estates, however turned down all these and other perks, including a posse of security guards.
He instead prefers to continue living in a communal setting akin to a monastery, with his fellow members of the Catholic institution of Opus Dei, which is known for its frugal ways.
None of his predecessors are known to have ever turned down such luxurious privileges of office.
The MPs, by now awake, were further scratching their heads over their discovery that despite his seven-figure IMF pay, Njoroge did not have a single asset of note, which the good economist said was his economic model and “very deliberate”, according to the leading Daily Nation newspaper.
African central bank governors have in recent years rightly been feted for their response to major crises, such as the global financial crisis, but it is that rare type that lives the frugal life.
Njoroge would join that still-short list of redemptive central bank governors, such as Botswana’s highly-decorated Linah Mohohlo, who prefer to be visible only when necessary, and to focus on being really good at their jobs.
While a whiff of much-needed fresh air, it could be much longer before the club attracts more followers—those who have tried to go against the established order have quickly found themselves out of a job.
Ask Nigeria’s charismatic former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi, who now as a traditional religious leader, spends his days looking overdressed in what is a naturally hot region.