I write to tackle policy issues and make considered suggestions for the way forward. In writing, I was not seeking to vent nor was I trying to exercise “new found freedom, liberty and brotherhood”. I write because looking at the bunch of pretenders to leadership and civic responsibilities in Nigeria, it is my estimation that, OBJ in spite of all his faults, found a good conscientious worker in NGOZI; and having followed her trajectory to limelight, it is my opinion that she would make a good successor to OBJ in 2007.
I understand that every person is entitled to his own beliefs, customs and traditions. The traditional Igbo no doubt have a beautiful set of customs, but restricting brilliant women is not one of them. For the life of me, I cannot construe but a chauvinistic attempt to restrict women as it were in their “place” by this enlightened son of Igbo in that op-ed referenced above. It cannot be true to say regarding Nigeria that “First and foremost, within the organizational leadership found in Igbo-plate, Ndi-igbo’s organizational structure identifies men and women with their exceptional roles thus our sons and daughters know their place in society”. Correct me if my interpretation is overtly broad but my reading in that chauvinistic tirade is that “the Igbo woman’s place is not at Aso-Rock!” Now I wonder who built the glass ceiling and who decreed that NGOZI can be well respected as the Vice-President of the World Bank, controlling perhaps the combined budget of several nations put together, or even closer home, be minister of one of the most important ministries at the most auspicious time but never cross that line drawn with a phallic symbol regardless of merit. The apologia of the mentioned Aba-Ngwa women’s riot is Umunnah’s backhand excuse for the limitation on the women. My deductive interpretation is that the Aba-Ngwa women in 1929 could only have protested to install their men in positions and not one of them since they do not qualify by the writer’s warped sense of entitlement. Where was the writer when NGOZI as an Igbo daughter became vice-President of the World Bank or even the Minister of Finance? Do “Ndi-Igbo’s organizational structure” allow women to be Vice-President World Bank (without a phallus) and even nearer home, influential Minister of Finance (again without a phallus) but need the main thing to reason as a Phallic head at Aso-Rock?
While I did not posit that it remains up to me and OBJ under a free and fair election to determine who succeeds OBJ, as canvassed, OBJ would normally be interested in who succeeds him and he has not been shy to declare so. I am interested in who succeeds OBJ and I have nominated a well qualified beautiful, smart and proven Igbo daughter. Baring any presentation of a better candidate with superior arguments, she is not only my candidate (I am willing to share); she has also been embraced by a plethora of divergent netters who otherwise have been at different specter on any issue. Meaning that she is acceptable. I float the idea of NGOZI FOR PRESIDENT. I am not afraid that she is a woman. My mother is a woman, my two children are little women and my greatest fan is my aunt, the second female Minister in government in Nigeria, Chief (Mrs.) Elizabeth Afadzwa Ivase (Nee Ula-Lisa. The last we spoke we were competing who would bag a PhD first). The Tiv as a brave and proud people are not afraid of empowering women if they deserve it. Even in Bible days when the women were not counted as a demographic reality, Deborah was Judge of Israel when it suited God. I am a Nigerian and I make that call. NGOZI IWEALA would make a better President than all the other men contesting against her combined. In a free and fair election, if given the opportunity, she would so trounce her opponents; they would all lose their respective deposits.
I would not deny to Mr. Umannah his right to vigorously criticize the President; I have done so here and elsewhere. But in order to move forward, it is not enough to just indicate what is wrong in state policy. What should be state policy with Alamie, what constitutional fairness allows a governor to take out the State Government’s vote from the Federation Account to divert to private accounts of his corporate shells and those of his children abroad? Have the London courts “not given him or his attorneys’ opportunity to defend himself or themselves and present their side of the story to Bayelsans and Nigerians in a “democracy”? Is that why ‘His Excellency’ skipped bail like a common criminal and reappeared in Nigeria? If Alamie’s money laundry and his other illegalities were tragic, flawed and embarrassing to all of us why is impeaching him in Lagos such a problem if there was a threat to disturbance of the peace in Bayelsa?
When Mr. Umannah as a writer says:
OBJ’s anti-corruption campaign and other reforms cannot work because OBJ and his administration are not clean either. It gives a picture of a situation were criminals are chasing criminals and political opponents.
The writer does not mention that NGOZI is part of the mess nor is she one of the criminals chasing the criminal. To lump her guilty by association is flawed to say the least. She is doing her own job; right wrong or indifferent, she is getting results, very good results. She needs to be encouraged to continue the good work. The reason NGOZI is nick-named NGOZI WAHALA is because she insists that things be done right, that systems be put in place to replace the ‘business as usual’; that we have a culture of accountability and proper maintenance like she is used to at the World Bank. If there has been a total system collapse in Nigeria, recall that she has been back in Nigeria for less than three years. You cannot blame NGOZI for all the mess the strongmen of Nigeria politics left behind with their ghost workers, and burning of Defense Buildings and all the deliberate thieving of the thieving lot.
Professionalism and technocrats
It is a fact according to the Bible that the borrower is slave to the lender. The fact is made explicit in the acts of economic illiterates who had seized the reigns of the government of Nigeria and been trapped into the ‘Debt Trap’. That Nigeria is in debt is not a question. $30 billion debt for a country with the kind of resources Nigeria has is little. It takes that professional who knows the world financial systems (and it helps if you had worked for them) to read not only the fine print but to also impress on your people to be in compliance to avoid punitive charges. I have a lot of respect for Nigerian professionals; they are brilliant and they work so hard; but because of the lack of basic infrastructure, many cannot meet up with world trends. Every day for instance, new research papers are pasted on the World Wide Web. If you have no electricity, much less broadband internet connectivity, how can you say you are up to speed? While not down-playing the ethnic issues, a country’s economy, sir, is dealt with at the macro-level. World Trade, credit, repayment and moratorium are all handled at the macro level. You need a savvy person like NGOZI to put the right foot forward.
The Diaspora Nigerians do not need to be home to know that in order to jump-start the economy; you need the basic infrastructure in place. You need roads, electricity, running water, schools and light industries to begin. Diaspora Nigerians did not bring out the appetite for imported consumer goods. Currently, Project Managers identify the needs, divvy up the jobs; set time-limits and meet them. That is our proposal. We have a right to contribute too. We did not make the mess, we do not want our extended families to remain in need ad infinitum that is why we send money back home when we can and we offer to help when needed and for now are saying NGOZI FOR PRESIDENT. Even if Nigeria did not deal with the IMF or World Bank, it still would be an advantage to have a smart, worldly-wise, savvy world-acclaimed economist control the reigns of power for a change even if she is female.