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Okonjo-Iweala’s laurels

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Sir: A goldfish simply has no hiding place. No matter the prevailing darkness, it emits a shine that is impossible to ignore.

Foremost Nigerian economist and international finance expert, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recently found eminent recognition in faraway South Africa when she was appointed to as a member of South Africa`s Economic Advisory Council. Okonjo-Iweala was one amongst many Nigerian experts with abundant international exposure drafted in by the Obasanjo administration to run the financial affairs of the country at a time when it was taking infant steps in its journey to democracy.

It is a matter of record that Okonjo-Iweala coming from no less an organisation than the World Bank immediately was immediately appalled by the sheer corruption of the Obasanjo administration. With her history of boundless integrity and being the financial watchdog of the administration, she piled question after question until the working relationship became untenable and she had to resign and return into the waiting arms of those who know her worth. Okonjo-Iweala was to make a return to Nigeria`s ministry of finance during the much-maligned administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. As corruption raged unchecked, she easily became a target of the mounting propaganda of the then opposition party, the All Progressive Congress, now the ruling party. The propaganda against Okonjo-Iweala was virulently led by Comrade Adams Oshiomole who was Governor of Edo State and is the current embattled chairman of the ruling party.

Nigeria is undoubtedly a country of many brilliant minds who can boast of the highest academic qualifications from the most prestigious institutions around the world, years of unrivalled experience, international exposure and multiple achievements evenly spread across different sectors. These experts many of whom are willing and available to contribute their quota in moving the country forward usually fall short by what is uniquely a Nigerian standard and find themselves inexplicably shut out.

Nepotism is to blame, that cancerous tumor that afflicts the Nigerian polity and ensures that the first qualifications in Nigeria are religion, ethnicity and other elements that form a vast armoury of corrupt connections.

Under the Buhari administration, nepotism, the dangerous enemy the federal character component of Nigeria`s constitution was erected to fight, has found an unmitigated field of operation. It has become the currency of the present administration and those who adopt and enforce it as the unofficial policy of the current administration do not care that it is doing incalculable damage to the fragile fabric of Nigeria`s unity.

In Nigeria, systemic but feverish attempts have been made and are being made to fill every public office with Muslims from Nigeria`s North. Other regions have been largely or outrightly ignored in the distribution of the country`s resources. This has bred a dangerous disquiet in the country, but a tone-deaf administration is apparently not losing a moment of snooze time.

Apart from irreparably shredding the social fabric of the country, nepotism has ensured that with square pegs in round holes, the business of governance in Nigeria is severely impaired. The effects are all too visible for everyone to see.

Okonjo-Iweala is just a recent example of many Nigerians poached by other countries who see them for what they are and not through lenses clouded by nepotism. It is yet another loss for a country severely in need of wise heads but one, which ironically provides the very toxic environment that drives them into the waiting hands of better-run countries.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala can afford to rest on her laurels after many years of blazing the trail. Unfortunately for Nigeria and Nigerians, rest is nowhere on the horizon, especially with people who wear nepotism like a robe and brandish its cursed cheque running the country.

Kene Obiezu wrote from Abuja.


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