The Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hotel was on Tuesday 30th October besieged by the creme-de la-creme of the Nigerian and African society. It was a case of a rare feat that can only be achieved by a rare gem.
Considering the calibre of people seated, led by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, a handfull of former and serving Ministers, Elder Statesmen, Senators, Honourable members, State Governors or their representatives, Captains of industries and members of the diplomatic corps among others, one could have mistaken the event for some political get together where politics and politicking was to be the subject of the day, but no.
The well attended event, which drew friends, families, colleagues, well wishers and probably foes of Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo–Iweala, from within and outside the shores of Nigeria was the public presentation and launching of her much awaited book, ‘Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria’.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a world class and highly revered economist. One who has risen to the pinnacle of her career to become the Managing Director of the World Bank, from where she returned for a second stint as her country’s Minister of Finance.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said she was motivated to write the book out the desire, and need for us as Nigerians to tell the Nigerian stories ourselves, to ourselves and to the rest of the world; rather than wait for foreigners to help us tell our story.
“It occurs to me that, it is about time we tell our own story. We need to tell them so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. We need to learn from the mistakes of our reform efforts so as not to repeat them. I wrote this book, and do hope that people would read it and capture the spirit of the reform because Nigeria can be transformed. She said.
The Minister went further to explain that the book was written in part to honour the work done by the Economic Management Team during the Obasanjo administration. “They put in a lot of work. What they did should not be lost”, she said.
For a wife, a mother, a grandmother and working woman, the book; Reforming the Unreformable is an excellent piece of work. Great in quality and rich in content.
The eight chaptered book dedicated to the author’s grand-daughter, ‘adorable Adaora’ captured some very important aspects of Nigeria’s recent past, especially the reform effort of the Obasanjo administration of which the author played a pivotal role.
Putting it in the words of Bono, a humanitarian, activist and musician; “the book is intended to force open our eyes to the complexities of political life in Nigeria. “It is an essential guidebook for reformers everywhere.”
One Book Various Opinions
Though not many people got the opportunity to speak, lest it become political as no doubt, politicians will always cease every available opportunity to impress; but those who did justified the opportunity given to them as they all speaking on the same book but from different perspective testify to the the quality of the book.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo said the book effectively refutes the popular belief that Nigeria’s political and economic institutions can never be reformed.
The President noted that the book’s central message of hope was appropriate at this point of the country’s history and that Nigeria, long given up by cynics as an entity averse to reform, can actually be transformed into one of the most dynamic economies in the world.
Earlier Professor Paul Collier, one of the three guest reviewers described the book as an appropriate prism for understanding Nigeria’s economy in the present and the future. On the book’s greatest legacy, he said learning from failure was fundamental to reforming success and that Nigeria needed to build and consolidate an agenda of reform integrity.
He said the book was timely in documenting the successes and challenges of the Economic Management Team and in explaining the basis for the ground-breaking structural, macroeconomic and reform agendas it pursued with such results as debt relief and the setting up of the Excess Crude Account.
In his opening remark as the chairman of the ocassion, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Secretary of the Commonwealth amongs other comments and analysis, attested to the readabilty of the book when he said “For an economist, I couldnt but commend her effort for sheving the usual technical language we are all use to, the book was done in a readable prose.”
For the South African Minister of Finance, Mr. Pravin Gordhan, the book threw up a familiar and universal theme. “Reforming the unreformable is a familiar theme for Africa and the rest of the world. So what this book reminds us of is that no change occur as a result of inactions, but deliberate and strategic actions of a people and govertment.”
Behold the book
With the formal public presentation of the book by elder statesman, Chief Sonny Odogwu, who did an excellent job of causing all the guests reeling in laughter and applauding at the same time, as in analysing the cover design, he said unequivocally that “anyone who tries to prevent Nigeria from beign reformed, will be devoured by this lion here.’
Reforming the unreformable… will no doubt be a sucess, not just as a reader’s choice but as a reference book on governance, economy, debt relief and reform among others.
The reception for the book was great, as guests after guests announce number of copies they want shipped to them and others who are more politically concious announced their launch, in hundreds of thousands and millions of Naira.
No doubt, it is not only the publishers and Madam Ngozi that will smile to the bank but flood disaster currently ravaging Nigeria.