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Congrats, Aganga, BWI Chair

IT was with utmost pride and satisfaction that we received the news that Nigeria ’s new Minister of Finance, Mr Olusegun Aganga, had been elected as the Chairman of the Board of the Bretton-Woods Institutes, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after a keen contest.

Coming in the wake of the recent official visit of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, during which he met top officials of the Institute and extracted promises of their assistance in repairing the Nigerian economy, it is a further indication that that diplomatic sojourn to America was a runaway success.

The appointment of Aganga to that enviable position is a continuation of Nigeria’s ever rising profile in the world’s premier financial multilateral agency. As soon as she disagreed with the President Olusegun Obasanjo regime and left, former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was quickly snapped up by the World Bank and appointed as its Managing Director.

It was a fitting promotion for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who, before she took up the offer of appointment in the Obasanjo cabinet in 2003, was the Vice President for the Africa Region of the Bank. Also, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who held many portfolios under the Obasanjo regime for seven years, was appointed to Okonjo-Iweala’s old post of Vice President, Africa Region of the World Bank when the tenure of the regime was about to expire in 2007.

An important lesson we must learn from Nigeria’s sudden and newfound successes of late in the international diplomatic and financial arenas, is that the world is waiting for Nigeria to show the slightest sign of good governance and doing things the right way, and most of what we want would be ours just for the asking. During the days when President Umar Yar’ Adua steered the ship of state and showed signs that he would not go through with some of the reforms put in place by Okonjo-Iweala during the Obasanjo regime, Nigeria stopped being invited to prestigious economic gatherings. She stopped being included in the itineraries of such important dignitaries as the President of the United States, Mr Barack Obama. In addition to foot-dragging on the economic reforms, Nigeria seemed unable to deal with the many violent and terrorist activities within the country, including the aborted bombing of an American airline in December 2009.

But since Acting President Jonathan took over and started doing the right things, all our friends are back with us, and we are getting a healthy dose of favours that were not our lot hitherto. The governmental arrangement on ground in Nigeria is acceptable to the international community. Efforts must be made to keep Nigeria on this track and never deviate from it for any partisan political reasons or on the basis of unholy personal ambition.

With our enviable position in the Bretton-Woods Institutions, Nigeria is now in a position to maximise her benefits, especially in tackling our dilapidated infrastructure and retarded electric power system. It is gratifying to note that already, Nigeria and the World Bank/IMF are engaged in talks, which will result in the visit this May of the institution’s experts to take a comprehensive audit of sector with a view to helping in actualising the nation’s dream of steady power supply.

Once again, congrats, Aganga. Now, let the work begin.


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