Okonjo-Iweala, Arunma Oteh Et Al: Escaping The Tarring Brush Of Politicians | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Okonjo-Iweala, Arunma Oteh Et Al: Escaping The Tarring Brush Of Politicians

Posted: Sep 24, 2015 at 12:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent double international appointments of the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian economy under the immediate past administration in Nigeria, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Chairperson of GAVI and a member of the highly reputable 167 year old Global Investment firm, Lazard as Senior Advisor could not have come at a more auspicious time.

The 28 member Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), an international Public-Private partnership is committed to the welfare of children around the world. The Organisation is funded by countries around all continents from China to Australia, United Kingdom to Qatar etc. According to reports, Okonjo-Iweala was elected after a highly competitive international search. Her appointment at Lazard as Senior Advisor would be very impactful for developing countries around the world.

She has humbly expressed her happiness at the two appointments and said she would be happy to work for the welfare of millions of children and developing countries around the world. She is almost ecstatic at the new opportunities to serve on an international level that would see her travelling between, London, Paris and Geneva.

On the other hand, Ms Arunma Oteh was on the 24th of July appointed by Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank President as Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank. The World Bank President had this to say about an Arunma Oteh, “Arunma has deep knowledge of Capital Markets and tremendous experience as a former Treasurer of one of our Partner Development Banks (AFDB)”.

Mr Kim further added, “…we are very fortunate to be able to recruit an individual of Arunma’s obvious calibre”. She had served in Nigeria as the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission where she took some transformative steps that put the Commission back to global reckoning. Both Okonjo-Iweala and Arunma Oteh have some of the most enviable CVs in their professional fields and have worked at both global and continental bodies where their intellectual inputs have been world class.

The first female President of OPEC, former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison Madueke is another woman who brought the cerebral competence and diligence to her duties having grown to an executive Director level at Shell Nigeria.

Today, this column is calling attention to the international recognition of the cerebral competence of just these three daughters of Nigeria who have been short-changed by the political system in Nigeria by the way ‘professional’ politicians have been trying during and after their times in office to diminish their contributions to the Nigerian project.

All through their times in office, politicians from all corners tried to diminish their competence by either sabotaging their sincere efforts at cutting the excesses of ‘professional’ politicians or insisting the rights things must be done for the system to benefit. An Okonjo-Iweala was consistently demonised by most governors and even some fellow Ministers because she insisted or the country being more prudent and saving for the rainy day.

Some ill-informed and less qualified and less patriotic opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) members felt that criticising these three ladies even when they did not have the full facts was an expressway to fame and relevance in a clime where media trials have been taken a notch higher.

A Diezani Allison-Madueke captured the system that seem to approve that might is right in the political turf succinctly  by describing it as a brutal system that was very intolerant of gender equality in nation building.

The attack on a World renowned Okonjo-Iweala was so vociferous few months to the election that some members of the APC who were no intellectual equal of hers allegedly wrote to the Yale University  in the US to withdraw the Honorary Doctorate degree it awarded to Dr Okonjo-Iweala just few months to the 2015 elections. To them, they had better evaluating criteria than the University just because power was at stake. Most politicians in this country must have heard about the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. He took his country from a third world to a first not through wishful thinking or nepotism or godfatherism but by bringing together the best brains of any individual that had Singaporean blood or citizenship all around the globe.

In contrast, in this clime, those who see politics as a means of livelihood or social relevance pride themselves in putting highly cerebral men and women down and promoting cronies whose competence ends with ‘hero’ worship. That is why we are all aware that there are too many square pegs in round holes and the exact reason why for more than five decades after independence, a nation so blessed with material and human capital remains a third world country.

The world recognizes an Arunma Oteh, an Okonjo-Iweala, a Diezani Madueke but their country of birth have some loquacious politicians ever ready to do politics of the crab that neither climbs up the ladder nor allows a better climber to do so. A governor has been having a field day making damaging allegations against an Okonjo-Iweala. Even if she has questions to answer, the governor knows that the courts would do that at the right time, Always hugging the media to diminish our best is an illwind that blows no Nigerian any good. Make no mistake about it, this column is not canonizing any of these three female stars that are among the best in their fields, the point is that a political system that is predominantly male dominated has over the years failed to celebrate the best that nature has endowed most of our women with.

In the words of late Chinua Achebe, any man that points to his father’s house with the left hand might just declare himself a bastard. Nigerian politicians have a damned system of giving a dog a bad name in other to hang it.

The international recognitions that have seen an Okonjo-Iweala, an Arunma Oteh and a Diezani Allison-Madueke amongst several others at the apex of their various careers should make us begin to put value on intellectual content in nation building. A war-devastated Rwanda is today one of the fastest growing economies in Africa because a President Paul Kegame saw and recognised the value of women in nation building as almost half of his cabinet is made up of women. Even though an Arunma and Okonjo-Iweala are working for the world through the World Bank, they might not be totally happy at how less cerebral and intellectually inferior politicians try to diminish them through unfounded allegations just made out of desperation for political power or mere media relevance.

Politicians should learn to put value on Nigerian citizens, male or female who have through hard work achieved global recognition and fame. The developmental battle is neither for the strong nor the rich, it is for the educated, cerebral citizens with ideas and the will to be patriotic. Ultimately, the world would judge us by the value we put on our best here and around the world.