I was rather appalled to read comments attributed to Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr, a daughter of Nigeria’s former minister of information, Dr. Dora Akunyili, who in her book, I am because we are’, a biography on her mother, alleged that her late mother described then President Jonathan’s cabinet as a “cabinet of mismatched candidates and portfolios”.
She further said that the Jonathan cabinet “was one of the first signs of the woes that would cripple Goodluck Jonathan’s government.”
Being that I was an offshoot of that cabinet, I am personally defamed by those statements, and would like to set the records straight by examining these particular statements in the light of indisputable facts.
Former President Jonathan’s minister of Finance was Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who got her PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On Thursday July 19, 2018, Jack Dorsey, the then CEO of Twitter appointed Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to the board of Twitter. She also sat on the boards of Lazard, Gavi and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank after her tenure as Minister of Finance, and Coordinating Minister for the Economy.
On March 1, 2021, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as the 7th Director General of the World Trade Organisation, and has been described by Forbes Magazine as the most influential Nigerian alive.
Former President Jonathan’s minister of agriculture was Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who has a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, and was a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Until his appointment as Minister in 2010, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
After President Jonathan’s tenure, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina was elected as the 8th President of the African Development Bank.
And on June 27, 2017, Dr. Akinkumi won the prestigious World Food Prize for his work to boost yields and farm incomes during his tenure as Nigeria’s minister of agriculture.
As minister of health, we had Onyebuchi Chukwu, a professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. Professor Chukwu is globally acclaimed for his prowess in combating Ebola in Nigeria by quickly establishing unprecedented contact-tracing mechanism and other protocols that halted the disease in its track within three months, and made Nigeria the first country to overcome the scourge.
The minister of state for health under former President Jonathan was Muhammad Ali Pate, who was in May of 2019 appointed by the World Bank Group as the Global Director of Health, Nutrition and Population, and Director, Global Financing Facility.
Muhammad Ali Pate was also appointed as Professor of Public Health Leadership in the Department of Global Health and Population of Harvard University.
That administration also had Olusegun Aganga as minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who before his appointment into the cabinet has been a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, probably the biggest investment bank on planet Earth.
As planning minister, Dr. Jonathan has Shamsudeen Usman, who holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, and was the pioneer Director General of The Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, now the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
Former President Jonathan’s minister of Information and Communication Technology was Dr. Omobola Johnson, who is currently Chairperson of the Global Alliance for Affordable Internet.
The education ministry under President Jonathan had a competent and well experienced ivory tower intellectual as the head. Before her appointment as a minister of education, Mrs Ruquyyatu Rufa’i functioned effectively as a professor of curriculum studies at the Bayero University, Kano.
With such a cabinet of world class, distinguished, and sterling individuals, it is hard to reconcile President Jonathan’s ministerial picks as “the cabinet of mismatched candidates, with square pegs put in round roles”.
It is however a fact that after her defeat by Chris Ngige, in the April 2011 election for the Anambra Central Senatorial seat, Dr. Dora Akunyili put herself forward to former President Jonathan for consideration as a minister in his administration, and that the then President, in his wisdom, elected not to appoint her into his government.
Dora Akunyili is late, and though I know the reason why she was not appointed into then President Jonathan’s cabinet, in honour of her memory, I will refrain from revealing that reason.
However, being that at the time she put herself forward to be considered for appointment in the Jonathan cabinet, she already knew those being considered, the question is raised as to why she would want to join a cabinet of persons she felt were sub par?
Suffice to say that if indeed Dora Akunyili had made such a judgment to her daughter, it may have been made in the heat of the moment, when she was sensitive and feeling scorned at her failure to make the Jonathan cabinet.
As such, I do not wish to join issues with her or her daughter, except to say that the obvious facts do not support their claims.
Additionally, is also preposterous for Chidiogo to associate the government of President Jonathan with failure, knowing all he did to grow the economy and deepen development in the country.
In case her memory failed her at the time of writing the book, or perhaps she was overwhelmed by emotions, here is a brief recap of the achievements recorded by the Jonathan administration:
The Jonathan administration on May 29, 2015 left behind a $550 billion economy, (the largest in Africa and 26th in the world) and the third fastest growing economy in the world (next only to China and Qatar according to CNNMoney), with a stable currency and single digit inflation.
I also remind Akunyili-Parr that this record remains the best since Nigeria’s return to democracy.
Furthermore, under Jonathan, Nigeria was the top Foreign Direct Investment destination in Africa, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Nigeria was acknowledged by the International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI, as having reduced hunger levels by 2013. Their annual Global Hunger Index showed that Nigeria’s index dropped from 16.3 in 2005 to 15 in 2013. This led to Nigeria receiving an Food And Agriculture award from the United Nation for reducing poverty on June 19, 2013.
I also remind her that under Jonathan, in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement.
Former President Jonathan built 165 almajiri schools and 14 new federal universities, with 10 of those in the North. As a result, of the 1,543,683 who took the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in 2013, 1,074,065 obtained five credits and above, representing a 70 per cent pass rate.
Finally, when Mrs. Akunyili died, then President Jonathan caused the Federal Executive Council to hold an unprecedented valedictory session in her memory. Professor Dora Akunyili remains the only former deceased cabinet minister to be so honoured.
If anything, former President Jonathan deserves to be commended for this and other recognitions accorded late Akunyili while she was alive, not this futile attempt to revise recent history by a member of the late minister’s family.
Gospeller. Deep Thinker. #1 Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years. Avid traveller. Hollywood Magazine Film Festival Humanitarian of the Year, 2019.
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