Friday, 5 October 2007

Nigerians: Ngozi at World Bank, Ibrahim in Burma

Nothing to write about

I have refrained from writing anything about Nigeria until I found seriously uplifting news that makes my very proud of my Nigerian heritage.

It informs the reason why my blog was blank on the 1st of October which is the anniversary of Nigerian’s independence from British rule because really there was nothing to write about apart from obvious pessimism and unfounded optimism much of which was covered by bloggers and newspapers – Hey! It is just the opinion of one man.

NOI the MD

News reaches me that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed the World Bank Managing Director in charge of Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia regions, literally 2 and a half continents with just about half the world’s population.

With Europe in the mix, this means her role straddles developed through emerging to developing economies, this might as well help in the cross-pollination of ideas, expertise, investment and resources betwixt the regions under her remit.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also known as NOI for short; brings commendable, excellent credentials, experience and expertise to this job as a long-standing employee of the World Bank, a Finance and Foreign Minister of Nigeria in the recent past and advanced qualifications in field of Regional Economics and Development.

At the risk of sounding like a praise-singing parrot, I give the floor to Robert Bruce Zoellick, the 11th President of the World Bank as his words say it all.

“Ngozi brings a unique set of skills and experience to the World Bank Group. As an outstanding Minister of Finance and Foreign Minister in Nigeria, Ngozi helped lead the country's reform program on issues of fiscal prudence, transparency of government accounts, good governance, and anti-corruption.

She led Nigeria's quest for debt relief and helped her country obtain an unprecedented US$18 billion write-off from the Paris Club. Ngozi was also instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever Sovereign Credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch and Standard & Poor's.

She is an internationally respected world leader. In addition, she knows the WBG well from her 21 years of service. Her commitment to the developing world is unparalleled. I am delighted she has accepted to join my senior team.”

Now, that is a lady doing Nigeria proud and I like the way that she is address in first-name terms by the president, it shows they have a friendly working relationship which is necessary for this kinds of problems that World bank needs to address after the acrimonious split and rancour in the resignation of neo-Con Paul Wolfowitz.

Talent wins through always

Beyond this, it is worthy to note that the intemperance and vindictiveness of the erstwhile President of Nigeria stood in the way of according this lady a very senior post in the United Nations; however, I think she would be better served in this role than being subsumed into the international diplomacy of United Nations’ insincerity.

If not for the way the headship of the World Bank and IMF has been sewn up by Europe and the United States, she is a more than qualified candidate to lead that bank.

Then the question of qualified Nigerians who cannot seem to get recognition and scope to bring radical useful change in service of their fatherland; take heart, extremely good talent would get utilised in this world by people who recognise what you can do.

Sorting out Burma

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stands as a beacon of hope and realisation of that view.

Another person whose nationality has not been mentioned but has been in the news too many times to be ignored is Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari the Under Secretary-General for the Department of Political Affairs who recently returned from Burma (Myanmar, I am not convinced the people had any say in having their country renamed, in fact, many dissidents refer to their country as Burma) after meeting the despotic junta leaders and the democratic activist and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

It must be a difficult job having to visit and converse with people who have trampled on their people, trammelled their freedoms and targeted their aspirations with tyranny and violence, whilst these self-appointed demonic clones masquerading as human-beings hunker down in some remote forest enclave living the life of “Solomonic” kings.

Time to end the culture of impunity

Unfortunately, our disgust for the happenings in Burma to the pronouncement that the culture of impunity at an end sounds more like a hysterical affectation for mass protest and rhetoric than effective action, but it shows how irrelevant the military leaders have become.

If after keeping Aung San Suu Kyi under house-arrest for years, they are setting conditions for meeting her asking that she abandon her support for international sanctions and her confrontational attitude, I know who has been hostile and there is every reason for that dear lady to be confrontation and more, if she had the means, this is where the internation community should give more muscle to the aspirations of the Burmese.

Well, Senior General Than Shwe, you can go meet yourself; as if she is responsible for the state that Burma now is in; after 45 years in government, I think the army should return to the barracks and the doors weld shut.

It is time for the Burmese to have self-determination and for all the evil the military have perpetrated on the people and the monks, it is high time they were vacated to meet their maker, it is laughable that North Korea can call itself a democratic republic and the senior General who might not become a Field Marshall heads the State Peace and Development Council – whose democracy and whose peace?.

Burma is a people not an army, they should not be run around and hammered by iron fists like newly conscripted recruits in a boot camp – the culture of impunity in Burma, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe must come to an end and by the end of this decade if we can all help it.

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