Between Ezekwesili and Omojuwa
Sir: Dr Oby Ezekwesili came into national prominence at the young age of 36 when she was the presidential aide on Due Process to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. The former co-founder of Transparency International greatly helped curbed corruption by way of inflated contracts. This earned her national and global recognition which saw her elevation as minister for Solid Minerals and later Education. She was later to become the first World Bank Vice President for Africa. She has gone on to become a respected voice and commentator on issues with regard to Nigeria. Pundits will recall her role in the campaign for the release of the abducted Chibok girls in 2014 through the ‘Bring Back our Girls campaign.’
Japheth Omojuwa is a highly respected social commentator and public affairs analyst who started with a blog named after himself – www.omojuwa.com in 2009. He came into national reckoning in 2012 during the subsidy removal crisis during the Presidency of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. He has gone on to travel around the world and consult for a plethora of foreign donor organisations. He used to be a columnist for The Punch and Legit.
A few weeks ago, the two came at loggerheads over alleged use of her name as a director in his company – Alpha Reach. Ezekwesili has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the issue.
It is clear that the once chummy relationship between both of them has irretrievably broken down. Nigeria’s international image at the moment is at its lowest ebb. Foreign Direct Investments are drying up as evinced from the decision of Twitter to cite its African headquarters in neighbouring Ghana. Amazon is citing their African headquarters in South Africa. The likes of Dunlop, Michelin etc have relocated their operations to Ghana which has now assumed the status of the beautiful bride by foreign investors. Shoprite is relocating back to South Africa having sold its Nigerian interest to an investor.
There is a clamour for power shift to the younger generation all over the globe especially in Africa with its avalanche of sit-tight dictators. Changemakers like Emmanuel Macron became France’s President at 39, the legendary John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected the youngest President of the United States at 43, Tony Blair became Britain’s Prime Minister at 43, Bill Clinton became the United States President at 46, David Cameron became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at 44. All these men made a huge mark while in office and were all coincidentally elected while in the prime of their lives.
Coming down-home, the ‘‘Not too young to run’’ bill made serious gains with the election of some young people into public office in 2019. Omojuwa may not be an elected or appointed public office holder but he is undoubtedly a young trailblazer who burst into global consciousness at the age of 27. He is a role model to many beleaguered Nigerian youths who have been consistently shortchanged by successive governments. His influence was cemented when he became a British Council Chevening Scholar in 2019 where he did his Masters’s Degree in the prestigious University College London in the United Kingdom. It is my prayer that he is vindicated so that the youths – the most populous in the country’s population can prove that they have what it takes to lead the nation and get her out of the woods.
Tony Ademiluyi, a co-founder of the Vent Republic Media, wrote from Lagos.