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Okonjo-Iweala: When the prophet is not celebrated at home


Nigerians are usually excited about changing governments. The incoming administration comes with Nigerians, as usual, having high expectations, only to end up being more disappointed than they were before the administration took off. One recalls the excitement that followed the bringing down of the “Union Jack” and the raising of the new Nigerian flag at Independence in 1960. 

Oh! The way Nigerians rolled out drums in 1979 with the excitement that the incoming civilian regime would bring better things only to end up as the same set of people to welcome the fall of the same government just about four years later when the military came knocking. If one does not know anything about Nigeria and Nigerians, we must know that like Oliver Twist, they are never satisfied no matter how much you try!

At this point, let us bring in a familiar name, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala [pictured above]. Twice, under two different administrations, she served as Minister of Finance also doubling as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy in her last appointment. 

One also recalls that before taking over these roles she was working and consulting for the World Bank Group, holding different technical and lucrative positions, though some people in Nigeria want us to believe she was jobless before taking the offer to serve her fatherland as a patriotic citizen. If there was any favour done here, it was the Harvard and MIT-trained economist that did her country a favour, and not the other way round, by resigning from her lucrative job in the World Bank to help the Nigerian economy grow in leaps and bounds.

For more objective observers, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s only offence was that she elected to work for her fatherland. It will then be a great disservice to her to unfairly criticise her as some know-it-all critics, some of whose public service record is just well below average, have been doing. 

And if there is anything one must admire about Okonjo-Iweala, it is that she has learnt the important political lesson from Robert Green’s book, The 48 Laws of Power, which says that you must never win anything through arguments but actions. Now I can see how massively her missiles are launching in her “enemies” camp. At the time when her critics are at the loudest locally is when the world records this great woman’s achievements. Can you now see why it is in fact true that a prophet is not celebrated at home?

With all the bashings she received here in Nigeria, one would have thought the former mister was finished literarily speaking, but God usually has other plans. While her critics, here in Nigeria were busy clamouring for her downfall, the Yale University had her honoured for her excellent records for contribution to fighting corruption and poverty. Her loudest critics, even though they have nothing to show for their many years in public service, have tried their utmost to soil her hard-won reputation, but God will always stand by His own.

Just recently, when one of her main critics was busy trying his mortal best to bring this woman down again, predictably another international honour came. This time, not one, but two international responsibilities came together. Okonjo-Iweala must have joined in singing the Church Chorus, “Everything na double, double!”    

At first, she has been appointed Chair of the 28-member Board of the influential Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). Also, the 167-year-old global sovereign advisory investment firm appointed her as a Senior Advisor. How better can you get when you are offered jobs on merit for which you didn’t even apply? I dare Okonjo-Iweala’s critics to apply for an international job on merit based on their public service portfolio.

For this writer, I wish to make it clear that I am not one of those “blind” supporters of any politician. I am only an objective observer of political events. But as far as I am concerned, Okonjo-Iweala is a prophet that we are yet to celebrate here in Nigeria. But the international community that knows her worth are only helping us do this!

Bade Adebolu is an accountant based in Ado-Ekiti. He can be reached on badeadebolu@gmail.com

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