Dora Akunyili, Destiny and The Fate of Nigerians

by Gabriel Nwanze

Dora is now one of the most popular female names in Nigeria, and it can also be said that she has one of the most popular names for both the male and female gender in Nigeria’s present society. Perhaps only the name Goodluck is presently as popular and as often used in day to day conversation as the name Dora. Her name in more recognizable form is Dora Akunyili.

The Amazon from Anambra State has remained in the spotlight since her days at NAFDAC, and her fame has reached international stardom with her selection among the Top 50 women of influence worldwide. Dora is again, in the thick of affairs for what some consider the wrong reasons, while some believe it’s for the right reason. Either way, Dora is not new to what she’s currently engaged in. Controversy. However, Dora has been engaged in positive controversy rather than negative ones. This is what gives her the big plus and endears her to the hearts of many. Of course, no situation favours everyone simultaneously, so be it positive or negative controversy, Dora’s knack for ruffling feathers helps some people while dis-helping others.

In this write-up, I’m not taking sides with or against her, but based on public opinion, she is much more popular and loved by the masses, as when compared to the number of those who hate and despise her.

The furor over her submission of the controversial memo has died down, so I won’t focus on that issue. What is of interest to me and I believe to us all right now is the ministerial nominations and constitution of a new Federal cabinet.

Many have canvassed for Dora to head INEC, while some have said she should be returned to NAFDAC and some still, that she should be made the Minister of Health. A group says they prefer her to retain her present-past position as the Information Minister while some say she should become closer to the Ag. President, Goodluck Jonathan, as his PA or be appointed as the Secretary General to the Federation. All suggestions are good. Two however stand out, which are that she should be made the INEC chairperson or be put in charge of Power so that she can vent her spleen on the nation’s catastrophic power sector and permanently remedy the power situation.

Being made the INEC chairperson may be asking too much of the ruling party, as naturally, Dora will be under the pressure of local and international observers who will watch to see what she’ll do next. Her position on electoral issues will most likely pitch at opposite tents with the ruling party, and by extension, the ruling government. This will in effect, back fire on her as she will lose her position and favour from the government, but even more importantly, lose the opportunity to serve the people. This is not to say INEC is irredeemable or that only a person who dances to the tune of the ruling party should be put there, but it’s just a way of saying that Dora should be in a place where her job and efficiency will become more permanent, more stable and with continuity after a major project. Should Dora become INEC chairperson, then the core part of her job will end in some month’s time, after the presidential elections which is the main event for the INEC Head. Dora must live beyond a few months.

In addition, if Dora becomes the INEC CEO if I may say so, and delivers the mandate to the right candidate who emerges victorious, be it from the ruling party or not, we must accept that there’s no automatic assurance that such a president will transform Nigeria or do what the people have always wished for since the day Nigeria was created. This will imply that Dora’s job goodwill may not have achieved much, in the end.

Coming to the power sector, I see Dora being more effective there, and in a position to once again, do something that will impact the lives of every Nigerian forever, or at least, in a permanent way. Let’s say that where Dora is, success comes, so logically, there will be stable power if Dora is appointed to oversee activities in the nation’s comatose power sector.

The only opposition to actualizing this will be the resistance of some key figures in confirming Dora as a ministerial candidate, then accepting her as a minister after the screening exercise. No doubt, Dora past and especially recent-past controversy did not go down well with some persons of high influence, so such persons may emerge openly or behind the curtains to scuttle her aspirations to become a Minister ; the Minister of Mines, Power and Steel which will give her access to ride the high horse called PHCN a.k.a NEPA, as more “affectionately” referred to by Nigerians.

Dora can remedy the power situation if given the chance, because she will be propelled by a combination of her conscience and the astronomical expectations of what used to be Nigerians, but now the entire world, as the global community takes rapidly increasing interest in Nigeria’s affairs.

If the opposition to Dora candidacy as a Minister becomes so strong that it overcomes all other entreaties, then the next option will be for the Government to create a separate body or agency which will directly be in charge of the power project, and shift the Power sector away from the Ministry of Mines Power and Steel, to become a parastatal under the new body that will be created and supervised by Dora.

With this now comes diplomacy on her Dora will achieve the turn around of the power sector with minimal resistance from the powers that be in the sector. Indeed, a very high volume of more tact than diplomacy will be required to succeed in doing this, but I will say that what is most required to achieve this feat is compromise and compensation. Those who have one or two benefits from the power sector may not sit and fold their arms when such benefits are about to be taken away. They will surely fight and fight hard. It thus, may be better approaching the issue by having a round table meeting with such stakeholders in order to determine the exact level of benefit enjoyed by each of them and how such benefits will be affected by a change in “ business as usual” in the power sector, along with ways through which they can enjoy other benefits from the new and effective power sector after the turn around. Am I saying that the government should beg private stakeholders in the power sector? No. I’m only saying that the government must be very diplomatic in handling the human elements in the power sector because success in human relationship management will lead to success in policy implementation and management. It won’t be very fair to simply call everyone’s bluff and go ahead with needed reforms, as along the line, the resistance may short-circuit the project in ways never anticipated. Many of those who may support an all-round “kicking of ass” in the pwer sector may not be saying so if they had one or two stakes in that sector through recurring financial gains. Of course, such diplomacy will not be done in a way that will make the nation be held under ransom by some persons, or nothing will be achieved and failure will already be recorded even before commencement. A balance is needed. It’s only when diplomacy fails that “ass kicking” can begin, but I’m often convinced that with the right type of diplomacy and of course, speed in resolutions, the way can only lead forwards.

Present stakeholders must on their own part, be ready for sacrifice through change, adaptation and perhaps reduced income at the initial stage, with subsequent increase in income when reforms in the power sector stabilize. I can bet that everyone will smile to the bank when the power sector becomes functional, rather than just a few people smiling to the bank as a result of intolerable delivery in the supply of power as currently being witnessed in Nigeria.

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1 comment

lovenest Nwachukwu April 1, 2010 - 6:24 am

Good piece. Could neither add nor subtract anything from this masterpiece.


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