Friday, 19 December 2014

Red Herrings of Okonjo-Iweala’s Sycophant

By Temitope Oshikoya
This piece was first written on Saturday, 27 September 2014 before the drastic decline in oil prices and its severe impact on the Nigerian economy, which has exposed the underbelly of Okonjonomics. As the tide ebbs, now we know those who have been swimming naked! Enjoy the article.

http://www.elombah.com/index.php/articles-mainmenu/25989-red-herrings-of-okonjo-iweala-s-sycophant
http://www.nigerianews24.com/articles/red-herrings-of-okonjoiwealas-sycophant
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/NIgerianWorldForum/conversations/topics/429194
http://www.globalreportersvienna.com/2014/09/red-herrings-of-okonjo-iwealas-sycophant.html

I feel honoured that Mr Paul C. Nwabuikwu, the media adviser to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (NOI), Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, considered my article important enough to merit a rejoinder. My article can be located  here http://allafrica.com/stories/201409081894.html or below

However, in his piece “Temitope Oshikoya: The Lies of a Disappointed Man,” Paul conveniently side-tracked the issues raised in my article, and instead went on vicious and vitriolic attacks that would appear to impugn on my integrity and professional standing. Paul’s cheap attempt to wish away the poignant message, and then try to impugn the character of the messenger is a despicable display of his moral bankruptcy. I will address his key points on: ethnic bigot, pseudo-intellectual, NMRC, and ADB. 

The piece written by Paul Nwabuikwu simply confirmed the key theme of my article that our Golden Girl, NOI has been hijacked by sycophants like him, deluding her with flattery and adulation. As I noted, all the media image laundering and gymnastics are happening at a time when energy should be focused in helping the Government and the President to tackle unemployment crisis, especially among the youth of over 50%; reduce Nigeria’s Misery Index of 48, the third rank among 90 countries; and attenuate the deepening socio-economic inequality. As a professional economist and intellectual, it is my humble conviction that it is far better to let her realize the blinding effects of these sycophants from realties on Nigeria’s weighty economic matters.

First, in his characteristic sycophantic element, Nwabuikwu’s most egregious form of moral turpitude and dishonesty displayed throughout his piece with the words “ethnic bigot.” He insulted my Igbo wife from Abia State, my children with Igbo names, my Igbo in-laws, friends and colleagues. People know me as somebody who transcends ethnic boundaries, marrying from the South East; I attended a University in the North. With faith in the Nigeria project, I appreciate the sensitivity, sensibility and understanding of the different parts of the country. These traits, at the barest minimum, ought to inform the disposition of all Nigerians: to be broad-minded and to put the Nigeria project and our collective good ahead of individual, regional, and ethnic selfish interest.  You cannot lay claim to being broad-minded about the Nigeria project, when a preponderance of the country’s economic managers are either from your home state and your husband home state.

Second, Paul Nwabuikwu’s egregious charge of “pseudo-intellectual”, I am afraid, says more about him than about me. Curious to find out what this character is made of as displayed by his warped mind, I explored the Internet to know more about his credentials. To my utter disappointment, I discovered that all search for his intellectual scholarship showed nothing of value. If anyone has the temerity to label me a ‘pseudo-intellectual’ they had better do their homework properly.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am compelled to put to him a summation of my own record. Like many Nigerians, I grew up from a humble background, with the painful memory of parents who could hardly afford to send me through primary and secondary schools. But thanks to God’s Providence and with dint of hard work, I obtained a bachelor’s degree with first class honours, and best graduating student in Department of Economics and Faculty of Social Sciences at ABU, Zaria. I won a national essay competition and a Commonwealth Scholarship for my Masters and Doctorate degrees in economics at McMaster University in Canada.

I am a qualified chartered banker, with FCIB, certified management accountant (CMA), and an MBA holder. In addition, I have gained leadership, strategic, policy, and operational experience in development finance, central, investment and commercial banking through keen competitive processes. I have served as the Director General of an international organization; my appointment was by the authority of six Presidents and Heads of State following a rigorous competitive recruitment process conducted by KPMG and interviewed by Governors of Central banks. With my economics, banking and finance background, independent analysts had shortlisted my name on the list of potential CBN Governorship candidates. (http://www.myfinancialintelligence.com/banking-and-finance/next-cbn-governor).

I have authored and co-authored refereed articles severally in international scholarly journals, which have been widely cited as part of research and teaching instructions in leading universities world-wide, including at Harvard, Yale and Columbia Universities amongst others. It is ironic that Ngozi, who had published only one article--an adaptation from her PhD Thesis, in an international peer-review journal, will be calling others "pseudo-intellectual. " For the record, I have published over 50 articles in leading international development economics peer-review journals including Economic Development and Cultural Change published by University of Chicago Press, Journal of African Economies, published by Oxford University Press, World Development, Journal of Policy Modelling, Nigerian Journal of Economics and Social Sciences, and African Development Review.

In addition, my doctoral dissertation on Nigerian Economy: A Macroeconomic and Input-Output Model has been published as a book by Greenwich/Praeger in the USA. (http://www.amazon.com/Nigerian-Economy-Macroeconometric-Input-Output-Model/dp/0275934179/ref=la_B001HPKEQC_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459630936&sr=1-1). 

I have served as an editor and member of editorial boards of Journals published by Oxford University Press and Blackwell.  l have served as Joint Coordinatir and Team Lead of African Competititveness Report of AFDB, World Economic Forum, and the World Bank; and African Economic Outlook of OECD, UNDP, and AFDB. 

I have also been contributing to public policy discourse on Nigerian economic issues in reputable leading national dailies including The Guardian, ThisDay, and BusinessDay, which appears to irritate sycophantic associates of NOI such as Paul Nwabuikwu. As I tell the truth dispassionately about our economy in those articles, these sycophants feel intellectually challenged. They think no Nigerian economist can and should challenge her intellectually on Nigeria’s economy, while thought leadership on our economy has been outsourced to non-Nigerians. .

Third, Paul Nwabuikwu obviously lacks knowledge of how professional search firms work. His allusion to the three professional firms headed by people from the South West was an attempt to cover up the regional selfish agenda. I have the highest respect for the names and search firms mentioned in Nwabuikwu’s rebuttal. But that is beside the point.  Somehow, only sponsored regional candidates always finally emerge.

From experience, a search firm sources out candidates and submits a shortlist list to the prospective employer, including names proposed by the latter. From thereon, the employer is in charge and control of the process going forward, including interviews, while the firm simply now plays a more supportive role, for example, in contacting candidates for the interview and looking after the paper work.

In the case of the NMRC CEO, the firm has done its professional part and submitted names of short-listed candidates, and interviews were expected to be completed in January, 2014. From then on, this is where the selfish agenda sets in! NOI kept delaying the process and finally acceded to a meeting in June 2014, then postponed it again for another three weeks in July. The start of the scheduled interview meeting was further delayed for more than three hours on the scheduled date of Sunday afternoon.

I have had opportunities during my career of over two decades to meet with Presidents and Ministers in Nigeria and in some other African countries. Once there is a scheduled appointment, they will never delay you beyond thirty minutes. IFC, DFID, ADB and World Bank will not delay recruitment process by 8 months and scheduled interview appointments by three hours. This is the crux of the matter: impunity and unprofessional lack of respect to others were displayed. The interview meeting provided me with the platform to challenge this impunity of not putting the collective good ahead of individual and regional selfish interest!  It is a shame that somebody who sees herself as a global celebrity and who aspires to the Presidency of the World Bank will behave just like another local warlord and show no respect for time, efficiency, and productivity.  Talk about a reformer, who has not only join the un-reformables, but even worse than them!

Fourth, it looks like Nwabuikwu does not seem to know the politics of the ADB and the World Bank and did not realize that I was an insider in the campaign for the Nigerian candidate in 2005. Another form of Nwabuikwu’s dishonesty: NOI was not the Finance Minister when the Nigerian Executive Director of the ADB was initially appointed. 

In conclusion, I wish to leave readers with quotes from an article in Africa Watch based on an interview of NOI by Ty McCormick: “As the full scale of Nigeria’s internal woes is laid bare, however, she (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) is increasingly at risk of being left with no clothes……In a way, the hype over the Nigerian economy mirrors the hype about Ngozi. Both are based on very little substance.” 

Need I say more?  We need to save our Golden Girl from sycophants such as Mr Paul C. Nwabuikwu, who will rather attack Nigerians who make efforts to contribute to public discourse on Nigeria’s economy.

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