Having spotted, on several sites, an article by one Yushau A. Shuaib in which the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is accused of facilitating controversial appointments in favour of her Igbo fellows, I was alarmed by this tale by moonlight gone viral. Somehow the thesis of the article did not quite fit. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has earned a solid reputation for her fight for a better Nigeria, her passion for a united Nigeria where fairness and equity reign. How could she, as our elders say, learn how to use her left hand in her old age? It just didn’t sound right. Still, I decided to study Shuaib’s piece to see if he had any basis for making such a wild allegation.
At the end of the exercise, it was obvious that the writer, in pursuit of an unholy agenda, was on a carefully planned mission to paint this icon of integrity in bad light; thus tarnishing her sterling image among Nigerians and the international community. The evidence he presented in support of the allegations he made was flawed, his logic was distorted and his conclusion very very malicious. In other words, Mr Shuaib was telling big fat lies against an innocent woman. So, having followed the activities of Madam Finance Minister, as an observer of political events, I thought I might as well offer some thoughts to set the facts right.
First of all, although Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appears to hold a very powerful position in President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet, as the writer posits, we also must not ignore the fact that she doesn’t call the shots when it comes to federal appointments. Her influence, as great as it is, is very limited when it comes to matters of public appointments. Apart from the fact that she cannot intrude into areas that are not directly connected with her job responsibilities, she would be acutely aware of the grave consequences that might be engendered by her whimsical interference in such matters. Having built a global reputation for integrity and performance, she – more than anyone – would be conscious of the damage that tribalism or any form of nepotism can do, not only to her credibility but also to national cohesion – an ideal that she is known to stand for.
In fact, most of the appointments cited in Mr Shuaib’s article appeared to have been made before Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resumed office as Coordinating Minister for the Economy. This shows that his write up was nothing but a cheap hatchet job designed to achieve satanic objectives with lies. Thank God Nigerians are too smart to be fooled by such antics.
As much as we have the responsibility of keeping our leaders in check, we must be careful to do so dispassionately, without any form of prejudice. Criticisms are more effective when they are based on facts and devoid of ulterior motive. I am afraid to submit that Mr Shuaib’s piece does not pass that litmus test.
Olusola Daniel is a social critic, political observer and an advocate for community development. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria.