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Okonjo-Iweala, Orya get Yale University, global banks’ honours

By Guardian Nigeria
20 May 2015   |   4:25 am
MINISTER of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Roberts U Orya, yesterday received awards from two global institutions.


Obi commends finance minister 

MINISTER of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Roberts U Orya, yesterday received awards from two global institutions.

While Okonjo-Iweala got an honorary Doctorate degree from Yale University, one of the United States of America’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, Orya was elected the fourth honorary President of the Global Network of Export-Import Banks and Development Finance Institutions (G-NEXID).

The Finance Minister was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters at Yale’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony in New Haven, Connecticut Monday.

She will be the second Nigerian in the university’s 314-year history to receive its highest honour after Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, who received an honorary Doctor of Letters in 1980.

Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala, while responding to the award yesterday, expressed gratitude to God for the recognition by Yale. “I am grateful to God for the recognition by Yale,” she said. “For me, the lesson is that one should never be daunted in doing the right things even in the face of challenges.

I am thankful for all the support from within the country and the international community, especially from ordinary Nigerians because their support is mirrored in the recognition from Yale.”

Giving out the award, the President of the University Professor Peter Salovey described Okonjo-Iweala as “a brilliant reformer and dedicated public servant.”

He went on to state that the Minister “has spearheaded efforts to stabilize and grow Nigeria’s economy, battling widespread government corruption and creating greater fiscal transparency and discipline.”

Former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has commended the finance minister describing her as a consummate economist. Going by Okonjo-Iweala’s antecedents, according to Obi, no honour to her would be surprising. “She is one of our best who can rival the best in any clime.

Her humility and sense of work are amazing. Her patriotism and belief in Nigeria are inspiring,” Obi said. The former governor said Nigerians should remain grateful to people like Okonjo-Iweala for working hard to shield the Nigerian economy as much as possible from the global economic crisis that hit major economies.

Yale’s honorary doctorate degree is seen globally as a very important honour. According to the institution “those who have received honorary degree are scholars, public servants, Nobel Prize winners and heads of states. “Collectively, they represent the aspirations of this institution.

Yale honorary degree recipients serve as models of excellence and service to our students, to our graduates, to our community and to the world,” the institution says.

As Finance Minister in 2004, Okonjo-Iweala and the economic team that she led helped Nigeria obtain debt relief, wiping out $30 billion of Paris club debt, leading to a tripling of growth rates.

The second time around as Finance Minister in 2011, Okonjo-Iweala has focused on building solid foundations and institutions critical for the survival and sustenance of the economy.

She bravely fought corruption in governance with fierce dedication and unflagging energy. Okonjo-Iweala was honored alongside the Chair of the Board of Governors of US Federal Reserve System Janet Yellen, world renowned Beninoise Singer and songwriter Angelique Kidjo, University Professor and founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University Gayatari Chakravorty Spivak, Professor and Director of the Starr Center for Human Genetics at Rockefeller University Jeffrey Michael Friedman, Inventors and Entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Dean Kamen, etc.

Yale had in the past honored a handful of other Africans such as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Meanwhile, as the G-NEXID concluded its 10th Annual General Meeting yesterday at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, Nigeria’s Orya, was elected new ‘Honorary President.’

In his acceptance remarks, the NEXIM chief executive thanked the members of the G-NEXID, saying: “…

I see my 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….

It is also an honour to my country, Nigeria, which is the largest economy in Africa…especially as we have just concluded a very peaceful Presidential election.”

With a membership of 24 institutions, the G-NEXID was established in March 2006 at the joint initiative of Exim Bank of India and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as a platform to boost South-South trade and investment relations.

The primary objective of the Network was to serve as a channel to bridge the gap between financing of trade and the achievement of the development goals of developing and emerging economies by fostering South-to-South trade flows.

Specific to this goal was tackling the difficulties associated with access to trade finance in the fragile markets of the South aimed at spurring and stabilizing economic growth.

Validating the excellent work of his predecessors, Orya attested that, “the G-NEXID in the past nine (9) years of its establishment has transformed into an association of relevance to realize the objectives of its formation, largely through the able leadership and dynamism of institutions that held the past Honorary Presidency and commitment of members.”

Particularly, Orya lauded the outgoing Honorary President, Mr. Rubens Amaral Jr. who, according to him, had in the last two years stepped up the achievements recorded thus far by taking giant strides to re-invigorate G-NEXID influence and reach.

Amaral Jr. congratulated Orya on his new role for G-NEXID, and reiterated the strategic importance of trade as a driver for sustainable development, and job and wealth creation.

He urged the Network membership to avail Orya with even greater level of support than that given to him in the past two years.