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Professor Tam David-West needs no much introduction. Without reservation, he is a household name in Nigeria and beyond. Apart from being a celebrated Professor of Virology and one who had served Nigeria in different capacities – as Petroleum Minister during the era of General Muhammadu Buhari, and Mines, Power and Steel in the General Ibrahim Babangida government without blemishes – he is a father who is spending his old age very well, epitomizing the re-compensation of a well-spent youth, bringing hopes of a better Nigeria, than the melancholic one her lights beam at us on the face.
His lifestyle reminds us of a Robert Browning, Rabbi ben Ezra poem thus: “Grow old along with me!/ The best is yet to be,/The last of life,/for which the first was made”. You may lace the introduction of the persona further that he has become a prophet that his people are finding it difficult to follow, because of his verbalization and practicalization of truth. This is evident when he told Nigerians that the oil subsidy is fiction and that Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was practicalizing fabrication before Nigerians, to accept “Oil Subsidy” removal.
Many people had called him names since then, especially when he said that Okonjo-Iweala should resign. What is more than vindication and conviction that Professor David-West had the hindsight that the duo of President Goodluck Jonathan and Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala were out for something in Nigeria with the unsympathetic “oil subsidy” removal, when in reports of March 21 2012, fingers that Jonathan backs Okonjo-Iweala for World Bank’s top job, as she was set to be nominated to lead the World Bank.
As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy of Nigeria, it is ridiculous how Jonathan who convinced her (who left the World Bank as managing director last year to join his cabinet to provide more power to his reform agenda) was now blessing her candidacy for the plum job at the World Bank. While many may see and appreciate this rather difficult political exaltation in the World Bank, would it make Okonjo-Iweala to see clearly her dim-witted vision for the economy? This is only if the United States will allow her, whereas that country has an option of her in a Chinese.
Junketing for the job through the exposition of her body language shows that David-West was right at last that Okonjo-Iweala lacked the dexterity and did not believe in her bloated mission of rescuing the Nigeria’s economy. If she succeeds at the World Bank today or after, this will make it the second time she is leaving her position as minister in Nigeria. Is she an unconstitutional Prime Minister of Nigeria that she cannot be left in her World Bank?
It is laughable that somebody who has given Nigerians the hope that she unequivocally had the interest of Nigeria so cherished in her heart was making such transitory approach for the World Bank. It is even more laughable that she has been unable to achieve much in the stained transformational agenda within the period she had served. This goes a long way to show that impeccability of credentials, as anybody would say she has, does not give the job of the President of World Bank.
Who wants America not to give Nigeria loan again if Okonjo-Iweala any day is the World Bank president? It is evident now that the economies of most nations are subject to World Bank directives. And she may stand a better chance to give Nigeria directives and economic policies, but not to supplement these with financial empowerment, because of the Goliath called America that is a major key player at the mainstream of the ocean of World Bank. The USA is lushly threatening to stop financing the bank in the event of a non-American heading it. What will Jonathan do? This is a tough decision and time for him. Has he even ever decided anything on his own before?
It was the recalcitrant indecision of the government that has made it not to hearken to the call by David-West when he said that he challenge any government after the regime of General Buhari: from General Ibrahim Babangida and Chief Ernest Shonekan to General Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to appear on national television with him to justify their subsidy. Not even Okonjo-Iweala, whom Jonathan reposed a lot of power and trust on and presented her to us as the transforming minister of the economy, was able to contend David-West when he world-widely said that there was no oil subsidy in Nigeria and that it was a lie and fraud.
David-West even reminded them, citing Edmund Burke, the great British philosopher that said, government is a contrivance of human wisdom and the wisdom should be used to satisfy people’s needs. Any government that can’t satisfy the need of its people is irrelevant and must be overthrown and kicked out. Okonjo-Iweala didn’t blink when he added that no government should exist if it can’t serve the people, because government is a trust. With the events of the day that Okonjo-Iweala was headburied on the World Bank coveted job, was David-West not right when he told Nigerians that Jonathan didn’t understand what he was saying on subsidy; that he was only parroting what they told him?
It could be figured out that David-West was really right, because one wonders why a president could be traced to be backing a woman he has sirened as the best thing that will ever happen to Nigeria, in much touted transformation agenda. David-West had told Nigerians that Okonjo-Iweala said the subsidy goes to the wrong hands. This is the same way today, they are sermonizing to seduce people to accept her as the best qualified person for the President of World Bank, when she had talked about cushioning the effect of the removal of oil subsidy. What would her exit bring should it work at last? David-West would say, “Rubbish!”
It is hard to believe Okonjo-Iweala again on anything Nigerian and her sugermouth painkilling measures that will help the citizens. Should the organized labour and Nigerians at this time make her posturing for the World Bank impossible? She told us about palliatives of the removal of the oil subsidy, but this has sent many Nigerians on the road of Golgotha. Do we need her at the World Bank so that we could build our dilapidated roads, provide water and electricity and vote for capital projects, which have taken a capital flight?
With these rigmarolings, David-West was right when he said that Degrees don’t guarantee good governance and degrees don’t make leaders, but leadership is a natural endowment or one acquires it by hard work. Jonathan and Okonjo-Iweala are pushing us to ask numerous questions about what is so special about the World Bank job. Are they trying to tell us that the bank is preferable to Nigeria? Whichever way, David-West would say that it is a privilege to be born into a wealthy home, and being born humble is not an issue, but how you articulate your humble situation is the issue.
In his words: That you are born rich doesn’t say you should look down on people. The problem with Jonathan is that though he has PhD, he is a brilliant man, but there is a difference between native intelligence and book intelligence. Jonathan is basically brilliant. The danger in that is that such people whenever somebody like Iweala comes talking, they idolize them like mental geniuses and become internally inferior to them. Whatever they say goes –– garbage in, garbage out.
Was David-West not right when he said that Jonathan doesn’t have the stamina to challenge the advisers? He buttressed his points saying, for a prince to be advised wisely, he must be wise too. Iweala is not the most brilliant economist. There are hundreds of people more brilliant than she is. Pius Okigbo and Ojetunji Aboyade, they served the nation meritoriously. She is working with somebody psychologically inferior and she will lead him into a ditch. She talks like the president. She once said that government would not negotiate with the Niger Delta militants. Did they not negotiate later? She was paid in dollars when she served in Obasanjo’s cabinet and her monthly pay was N2.8 million and now she is saying oil subsidy is killing the economy. Hypocrite!
There is need we see today that David-West was not making derogatory statements against Okonjo-Iweala and Jonathan, but facts. How has she convinced people that she knows her job with arguments, facts and figures when she has expertized in running from one job to another at any little featherweight opportunity? What we have always got from her are sermonizations! The same way we were told that they hired consultants with millions of naira to convince Nigeria to accept their oil subsidy removal, they are perhaps at it again with virtually all the countries in Africa and beyond clamouring that Okonjo-Iweala is the best thing that can ever happen to World Bank.
Maybe, Okonjo-Iweala’s removal will be Nigerians subsidy to a new lease of life. But is this the way she has to live: genuflecting from one slighted opportunity to another without leaving any vital record on the sand of history? Many of us are beginning to believe David-West’s outbursts totally that Jonathan was not leading anybody to any hopeful place, especially when he admonished that we should not think and say we are safe in Nigeria. We are indeed not safe whereas we have leaders who speak from the sides of their mouths. What is corporate disappointment if not the interest a serving minister has shown for the job in the blues? This is why David-West had admonished Jonathan and his cohorts to know that government is not about commissioning or investment and profits, but should have moral dimension; and any government that disregards the moral dimension, that is, respect of God, God will punish such for making Nigerians to suffer.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855 . Email: email@example.com