Sunday 24 August 2008

Nigeria: What Africans for Obama exposes about judgement

Leaders who cannot be wrong
I do not know what it is with leaders and people who are supposed to be in reputable positions who cannot admit that they might have been wrong, economical with the actualité or had a lapse in judgement.
Where they seem to have been caught out in public, instead of admission you get denial and instead of humility you get hubris.
Their utterances in those times of personal tribulation suddenly begins to show the type of person they are, they probably cannot be gracious in defeat, they are probably driven with cold ambition that the end always justifies the means and they are probably are too far away from good counsel to realise the error of their ways.
Leaders with virtue
What these people reveal about humanity is that it probably takes one set of virtues to rise to the top and we cannot begrudge them their success, but it takes another set of virtues to earn respect by reason of the person you are regardless of what you have been able to achieve.
Dare I say that people seem to confuse both sets of virtues and think they can interchange them to buttress both their achievements and character; we can easily get blindsided by these manipulations which would prevent us from getting to the truth about matters concerning these leaders.
Fulminating silliness
Our dear Professor Ndi (Ndidi) Onyiuke-Okereke, the highly successful and high achieving Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange seems to have been caught in that confusion and the more she fulminates the less one is able to admire her for her smartness and sense of judgement.
I am still living down the silliness of the outburst that she is a very intelligent person who has a PhD she did not buy, as if anyone cares if she got it from a burger-flipping university though she might be referring to others amongst her detractors who might have acquired theirs at a buy-one-get-four-free shop.
However, what her outburst does tell us is that Nigerians generally might not see the difference between great achievement and good judgement, something she has decided to exploit without necessarily realising that she has exposed herself to greater ridicule.
The detail of her folly
The issue at hand is that she fronted the Africans for Obama organisation and being such a high-profile figure in Nigeria and probably internationally, she organised a fund-raising activity without properly stating her intention to the Obama campaign organisation in America.
It would appear the first the Obama campaign organisation heard of her fundraising event was when an advertisement was placed in the PunchOnline newspaper with the picture of Barack Obama and the Yes we can! slogan of the campaign without any clear disclaimers that the Africans for Obama organisation was not in any way affiliated or associated with the core Obama organisation in America.
Chronology of events
Three days before the event, to forestall any attacks in America about foreign backers raising funds for his presidential campaign a counsel from Obama for America, Inc. wrote to the editor of PunchOnline advising the editor there was no affiliation and no funds raised by Africans for Obama would be accepted, the detail of which I covered in an earlier blog [1].
Now, the letter might have arrived at PunchOnline after the event, but one should clearly note that the Obama organisation had already disavowed this charade before the spectacle of people displaying more money than brains took place.
Trying to impress
Indeed, there is probably some good intention in trying to “sensitise” American-Nigerians to the need to vote for Senator Barack Obama as president, but they are the ones living in America and they might well be persuaded of other aspirants that some busybody organisation from Nigeria might just convince them of their persuasion.
Perhaps Professor Okereke-Onyiuke who was an adjunct rather than a substantive professor [2] at the New York City University was going to impress them with her college degree and hence bring her views to bear on supposedly hapless and less intelligent American-Nigerians.
Where she lacked judgement
This is where the lady was lacking in judgement
Being such a high-profile Nigerian she could have supported such an Obama organisation in Nigeria without fronting it like she did.
Once she had decided to organise a dinner/concert with all the fanfare and publicity; she should have sounded out somebody in the Obama organisation in America for advice on how to channel her activities properly.
Having not done that, the advertisement placed by Africans for Obama should have stated clearly that they are in no way affiliated to the Obama organisation in America.
Once she had learnt of the dissociation by the Obama organisation she could have acquiesced and offered that she had done what she had done in good faith and would learn the lessons from this poor situation.
If the words of her vociferous defence had been spoken by someone else of a similar stature, a peer, in Nigeria or internationally, there might have been more to it, but from her, it smacks of self-conceited megalomania typical of garrulous and uncouth Nigerians.
This whole thing about people being jealous of her success is sick-making enough, who cares how successful she has become? I don’t. We just care that Nigerians in leadership stop making a laughingstock of Nigeria at home and abroad, and then compound the whole thing with braggadocio.
So, on the BBCNews site [3] she delivers the coup de grace, “I am a woman of the highest integrity.” To which I say with all the disgust and disdain I can muster – BULLSHIT!!!

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