By Morenike Taire
Apparently, Nigerian female minister and erstwhile candidate for the World Bank presidency is all too accustomed to keeping bad company. A seemingly lone light in the murky waters that most agree government in Nigeria has progressively become, it is becoming funny, to say the least, that Ngozi Okonjo Iwealla always seems to be on the defensive.
First, at the beginning of the year, she had considerable trouble explaining to and convincing Nigerians that the World Bank was not a part of the decision of the Federal Government to remove existing subsidies from fossil fuels being sold in the country.
Eventually getting its way, the government saw its popularity ratings plummet, alongside Okonjo-Iwealla’s. The part she played in the police pension fund probes removed any doubt of her personal integrity, but did not totally endear her to the heart of ordinary Nigerians.
Her nomination to the race of the World Bank leadership was widely supported in the country, but mainly by the cynical and on racial grounds.
Few, both inside and outside the country, doubt that she has the integrity, energy, experience and capacity to do the work, and it was generally considered a race of equals, in which she was qualified as any other candidate. Her submission, during the race, was however stunning.
While she tried to take off her US toga and shrug on the daughter -of- the- soil one, she told the story of how she was born in a Nigerian village. This might have been put down to her running around with politicians. The real surprise was the clear and artless effort she made to use the black ‘n’ female sentiment to arm twist stakeholders into choosing her.
When they did not, she was clearly getting too comfortable with the new activist persona and, most uncharacteristically, she actually congratulated herself before and with more enthusiasm than the eventual winner.
She boasted about how her candidacy has forever changed the process of choosing World Bank presidents, and how she was clearly the most qualified. She forgot completely that she was from a third world country all throughout her so far distinguished career in the institution.
It all presents a little bit as naivety, and one begins to wonder why she appears to always wind up with people she either has to make explanations for, or to criticize.
IBORI: Culture, first ladies and their liabilities
It might have appeared that he was the proverbial cat with the nine lives, but it was a matter of time before the chickens would come home to roost and justice would be done.
A lot has been said and written about the culpability of the Nigerian judiciary, which had failed to either prosecute former Delta State governor James Ibori, or to have him removed from the State house on account of having been prosecuted before. In actual fact, we are all culpable, ignoring the fact, as his English prosecutor said, that we had a governor and ex governor who was a “petty thief living like a millionaire”.
His wife, however, was another matter, and brings to mind the trial of the widows of Osama bin Ladin, he of the dastardly acts. In the sub Saharan Africa and Islamic cultures where women are subjects to their husbands, it is really difficult- sometimes rather unfair- to hold women culpable for acts their husbands made them to commit. It is a lesson to women from the third world that they, as well as their revered husbands, have to pay the price for following bad cultures
Women leading africa-trend or fluke?
Last week, former British Prime Minister John Major, alongside Booker prize winning Nigerian writer Ben Okri, predicted that the sheer adversity in the continent of Africa will eventually be the push that will cause the leap in major development and accelerate development on the dark continent.
This might be the case in the area of gender and leadership The tiny West African country of Liberia beat many first world countries to producing a female candidate at the presidential election and going on to vote her into the State House. The ascendancy of Malawi’s Joyce Banda might have been unprecedented, but the African continent is throwing up more women heads of State than any other, and that is something.