As Okonjo-Iweala leaves…


With President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration being consigned to the history books, one key player of this intriguing era remains Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the consummate Minister of Finance and Nigeria’s first-ever Coordinating Minister of the economy. She came into government as an avid critic of the avalanche of sycophancy and familiar ‘eye service’ that dot the whole gamut of public service in Nigeria. But many readily admit it is a different Madam Ngozi that is leaving the system after her two-time out in government. I am not among those privileged ones that continue to engage and question her tenure as if nothing good happened. For sure, her presence in government did a lot to change many things in the positive, especially in addressing the age-long ghost workers’ syndrome that saved huge resources for government and putting a wage on outrageous borrowings by states among others. In agreeing with her that Jonathan administration recorded notable strides in certain areas, flashback of her outings at the National Assembly came knocking where she was quoted on one occasion as saying; “I am really worried about the issue of making sure our budget is not eaten up by recurrent expenditure. How can we invest in capital if we’re spending all our money on recurrent expenditure?” On this score, many certainly do have issues with her efforts at addressing the burning issue of extreme overhead cost in government business. Again, in retrospect, the words on her return to the Jonathan’s government in August 2011 with an expanded portfolio were “I love Nigeria with a passion. No one is too big to serve his or her country. But I’m very demanding and that will be the driving force to deliver on the Finance Ministry mandate to Nigerians.” So, for her four years on the saddle, excluding the years she did in President Obasanjo’s regime as Finance Minister and later Minister of Foreign Affairs, one is tempted to insinuate that her outlook may have been that of ’do no evil; say no evil; but if you see evil; hear evil; fight it silently within the system’. This percieved outlook made many to criticize her and the administration she so conscientiously served and defended as doing many wrong things to inflict pains and hardship on Nigerians. Also, given the platform she emerged to become a two-time Minister of Finance and may probably return, Madam clearly knows what ‘forensic audit’ means. But alas, by omission or commission, she turned the proverbial ‘blind eye’ when her Petroleum Ministry counterpart, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke and her ‘image makers’ at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation {NNPC} blew their tops that the so-called forensic audit by the PricewaterhouseCoopers has absolved the petro-dollar spinning organisation of wrong doings Similarly, Madam left it so late in the day to clarify Nigeria’s total debt profile that currently stands at $63.7 billion. It would have saved so many things if Nigerians knew before now that the said amount is the totality of all debts incurred by successive governments since 1960 and that “no $60 billion was accumulated under the Jonathan administration.” In her sober moment, Madam should surely look back on what she could have done differently as the nation’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. Hers should be a lesson for many technocrats in government that compromise on issues of transparency, openness, accountability and effective communication, especially with the media, are too sensitive to be toyed with. Before now, Madam was one person that never held back, ever willing to bare it all and say it exactly the way things are. Alas, she is leaving her office schooled more like a practicing politician than the acclaimed technocrat she really is. If per chance, her dutiful aides have not told her, let me have the privilege of informing her that the saintly Madam, who came calling from the World Bank family, is leaving her ministerial seat with the interesting appellation ‘Okonjo-Wahala’ being the name many civil servants, members of the public and some of her media friends have called her these past years. The Uncommon Transformer and the ‘Judases’ Watching an embittered Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio address one of his PDP Victory rallies in Akwa Ibom State after the March 28, presidential and National Assembly polls as well as the April 11, gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, I could not but empathize with him over his choice of words to brand as “Judases” those that voted against his beloved party. Pity for Governor Akpabio and his massive crowd of cowed political supporters, admirers and jobbers flowed from the simple reason that either our self-styled “Uncommon Transformer” did not appreciate the import of calling some of his people, Judases or he was just mischievously resentful of those who saw the light and embraced change pronto. Acclaimed as the best ‘Sekem’ dancer by one Nigerian artiste, Governor Akpabio should be ready to eat his words by apologizing to those “Judases” when the Buhari-led APC administration, among other goodies, fixes the Calabar-Itu federal highway linking Akwa Ibom and Cross River States which his beloved PDP and even the son-of-the-zone, Goodluck Jonathan neglected in over 16 years of their supposed good governance. But before taking his seat at the hallow Senate Chambers, one hopes Obong Akpabio will be more guarded in his ‘uncommon’ political displays, speeches and actions for God’s will to be done in his life as a distinguished Senator of the Federal republic. Orya – Conquering new Heights The recent election of Managing Director and Chief Executive, Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr. Roberts Orya as the new ‘Honorary President’ by Global Network of Export-Import Banks and Development Finance Institutions (G-NEXID) is certainly well-deserved. Happily, Orya sees his “election as a privilege to serve and continue in the giant strides already made by my predecessors towards forging and fostering a strategically vibrant and mutually beneficial South-South trade relationship….” On the home front, he has doggedly departed from what used to be the norms over the years where bureaucratic bottlenecks and civil service lethargy weighed down activities of the Bank. Today, the man Orya has indeed demonstrated passion for transformational change that has repositioned the financial institution for effective service delivery. Though accolades sometimes do slow down achievers; for Orya, who is a jolly good fellow, he must ensure his case is different by setting new goals for NEXIM to attain greater heights of productive engagements and accomplishments. Once again, congratulations on your deserving vote!

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