Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Jonathan’s super minister

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WHEN the story broke last week, that Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had ORDERED Information Minister, Labaran Maku, to punish Yushau Shuaibu, spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), for daring to criticise her, I wasn’t too surprised really.

The story was that Ngozi not only insisted that the young man be removed from NEMA, he must be posted to one of the Boko Haram areas of the North, as punishment for the “temerity” of criticising the “super minister”, Ngozi! Shuaib’s offence was to have written an open letter to Ngozi, but the super minister’s grouse was located in the last paragraph of the letter: “For those of us who still respect the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development, we strongly believe she should dissociate herself from the current allegations of ‘biafranization’ of top public offices in Nigeria.

We are in a democratic government where policy issues should not be done in dictatorial manner of ‘we-are-now-in-power’. I therefore urge her to ensure that appointments into important positions should be done in credible and transparent manner that can withstand public scrutiny”.

Just to be double sure, I called Yushau and he confirmed that he had received a call from Ngozi, who complained that he had not been fair to her; she then demanded that he must write a rebuttal of the original piece.He was not prepared to do so. It was in anger that Ngozi allegedly reported directly to President Jonathan, bypassing the Information Minister at first, before her subsequent demand that Shuaib be removed from NEMA and sent as a Federal Information Officer in either Borno or Yobe.

By late last week, the first leg of Ngozi’s wish was fulfilled with Yushau’s removal as NEMA spokesperson. The allegation of Ngozi’s alleged ‘biafranization’ project has gone viral on the web and it was actually an issue that she confronted in a lecture she gave to the Ola Ndi Igbo symposium recently in Lagos.

Her presentation was titled “Values, Mindsets and Culture”; and it was significant that she acknowledged that there were allegations that “I have come to prosecute an Igbo agenda (in respect of public service appointments)”. In response, Ngozi said: “my point is, I don’t give a damn. If the people got there on merit, they deserve it and we will stick with it as long as we know they didn’t get it through the back door”.

She then went on a triumphalist ride: “by the way, when you think of merit and competition Igbos don’t do badly and that is the problem, we do rather well. Somebody said everybody in the financial sector is Igbo; then they begin to list people like the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Director General of Stock Exchange, Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission, Director General of Debt Management Office, myself and Sovereign Wealth Fund”.

Lionised guru

As THE NATION newspaper’s HARDBALL column of Monday observed “Not only did she miss the import of the complaints against her style, especially on the issue of her interpretation of merit, she incredulously gave the impression that merit could not be compromised by subjectivity and that given Nigeria’s ethnic pastiche, public officials did not need to be more sensitive and more restrained in public service promotions.

Worse, it beggars belief that a minister of her standing could sound so ethnically triumphant by gloating that ‘when you think of merit and competition, Igbo don’t do badly, and that is a problem, we do rather well’.

How smug!” And how smug indeed! This ULTRA- REACTIONARY agent of imperialism can afford to gloat because she has been so lionised as some kind of guru by the Jonathan administration. And since she is the “super minister”, she can go as far as ordering the removal of a spokesman of a body that she does not directly supervise.

One of the tragedies of the transition to a civilian regime in 1999, is the manner that characters who never participated in the struggle against dictatorship and do not share the aspirations of the Nigerian people, have come to occupy a central place in the policy making establishment, starting with Obasanjo.

These reactionary “experts” come mainly from US-based imperialist institutions; the most prominent of them is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. That she is ordering the removal of a public servant from position, gives an indication of their mindset. They cannot tolerate criticism, yet they force down the throat of our country, policies that serve the interest of imperialism and a tiny elite.

These are policies that they did not submit for national debate anyway! They can only thrive in settings that stifle debate or where state power is controlled by a ruling elite sworn to the implementation of the unpatriotic and unpopular policies of the Washington Consensus that they espouse.

The removal of Yushau Shuaib at Ngozi‘s behest, underlines the danger which these Made-in-Washington “experts” constitute to the health of Nigeria; and where they are also openly implementing an ethnic agenda, then the trouble becomes compounded!

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