Nigerian Newspapers

Features Media/PR

My Writings and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

newspaper
Written by yashuaib

yashuaiblogoWhen I wrote an open letter to the Coordinating Minister in Charge of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over appointments to some top positions, it was, to me, simply the continuation of an age-old hobby that I developed since my student days in the university. I write with the purest of intentions not to malign anyone. I respect characters in my writings and readers’ views.

It was through my opinion and feature writings that I won some awards in the university and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at state and national levels. Though I deferred an admission offered to me by the University of Nigeria Nsukka to pursue Masters Programme in PR after I was honored with Automatic Scholarship for being the best Writer during the NYSC, I accepted automatic employments by both the Delta State Government and the Federal Government in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

In my letter of acceptance, I reflected that I would continue to write opinion articles that will be geared towards making Nigeria a better society that every Nigerian will be proud of. My experiences with great Igbos, Itshekiris and Urhobos formed the fulcrum of my early write ups during my youth service and after I started work at the Government House, Asaba. Their leaders, who took me as their son, protected and provided for my needs. Prof. Chike Edozien, the Asagba of Asaba, Chief Paulinus Akpeki and Ugoh of Okpe Kingdom were among some of the great people that made my youth service year and work experience a worthwhile adventure in Delta State.

When I moved to the Federal Civil Service, I never stopped writing. In fact most of my deployments to different offices were largely influenced by my enthusiasm for generating news items, issuing press releases and producing well-informed features stories.

As a Nigerian and a public official, I have always been conscious of my responsibility to ensure that the general public perceives government in a good light. I have strived to be a good ambassador of the government and people of Nigeria. I performed my roles with the best of intentions.

My writings can be divided into two major categories: official and unofficial. A careful perusal of my writings in the media will show that I sign the first category in my capacity as information/PR officer of the different places that I have been posted to. In the second category, I have been careful to make it clear that I write in my personal capacity as a private citizen. To make that point even clearer I affix my personal home address or email to personal opinions.

Since my employment, I have published books, issued over 2000 news releases, wrote news features and personal opinion, all in my bid to promote the activities of government and contribute to the peaceful coexistence of the diverse groups in the country. Most of my writings are accessible on my blog: www.yashuaib.com.

The recent article, which generated a lot of reactions and comments, was not done to malign anyone. Incidentally, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a personality I have a lot of admiration and respect for. I believe that she is aware of this. And so, when I put pen to paper in what has become routine to me to express my viewpoints on some recent appointments into top positions in her ministry, I never expected that it would be perceived negatively. It was to draw her attention to the strong speculations making the rounds which, in my view, she is not only capable of addressing but would do well to be aware of.

Maybe I should add here that during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration in which Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was also an influential member, I wrote some critical opinion articles on the activities of the president, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Nasir el-Rufai, Mrs. Oby Ekwesili, and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), among others. During the short-lived administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua, I x-rayed some of the president’s policies and those of Segun Adeniyi, his spokesman. I even wrote critical commentaries on my supervising Minister then, Mr. John Odey, who on some occasions, publicly responded to and addressed some of the my issues raised in my write-ups. As late as 2012, I wrote an article on President Goodluck Jonathan with the title “Flood in the Eyes of the President” and it was published in most national dailies. Following this, I received words of encouragement even from some of his aides and was consequently requested to support my postulations with photographs.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Muhammad Sani-Sidi, who had intervened several times to resolve the current issue with Madam Minister, is one of the bosses that have tolerated my critical opinions on various issues. We disagree and later agree on issues like normal human beings do.

In essence, encouraging responses that I have received in the past have served as the impetus for me to continue with my cherished hobby. To me, I am simply contributing to the betterment of our country. It was in view of the above, therefore, that I was encouraged to pen the open letter to the Finance Minister on some developments, which I strongly believe she has the capacity to address.

I was initially elated when I received a telephone call from the Minister on Wednesday March 20, 2013 at 6.15pm. Naturally, I was happy that, once again, my effort has yielded fruit. Receiving a call from someone that a reputable international news organization described as one of the most influential women on earth is humbling. I felt jubilant when I heard “Shuaibu, this is Okonjo-Iweala!” However, when she added “Why should you do this to me? You can’t praise me and condemn me and call it constructive criticism. Haba Shuaibu!” I knew that my opinion had not been viewed positively.

Despite the huge difference in age and status, the Minister took her time to explain to me why so much of what I concluded was not the case. During the conversation, the Minister even read portions of my write-up.

While feeling flattered and honored that a world-class technocrat like the minister was humble enough to personally call me and explain her position to me, I couldn’t help wondering why this particular piece attract such concerns and why so much more meaning than I intended has been read to it.

To me, the article was as harmless as every other that I had written in the past. I was still contemplating how to tackle the seeming complications when just a few days afterwards, hate comments and rejoinders pointing out that my article had been inspired by ethnic and religious considerations began to appear in newspapers and Nigerian online forums.

I want to emphasise, once again, that my article was written with the purest of intentions, and even a cursory internet search will reveal that I have done this religiously in the last 20 years. Contrary to insinuations of ethnocentrism, sectionalism and sponsorship in many of the reactions and rejoinders to the opinion, I take full responsibility for the views that were expressed. I have never written with, or caused articles to be published with malice. I am a strong believer in the oneness and potentials of this country, and most of my opinions have been centred on great Nigerians that I admire and will not want to see fall into disrepute.

Despite this, however, I have realised that the said opinion has caused great discomfort to some individuals and groups. I want to reassure my elders and my good brothers and sisters, especially from a section of the country, who might have felt offended by my write-up that I harbor no grudge against them. I will not like to see this discomfort and the continuation of unnecessary hate comments. After all, we are one big family.

Yushau A. Shuaib
www.yashuaib.com

Comments

comments

About the author

yashuaib

Yushau A. Shuaib is an award winning public relation professional. He is popularly called Idiagbon during his university days, He has distinguished himself with several credible awards in the field of public relations. Notable amongst them are Campus Writer of the year, Alhaji Sabo Mohammed Best Student in Public Relations, Delta State NYSC Merit Award, Automatic Scholarship for the Best Corps Writer, Head of State National NYSC Honours Award, NIPR Public Relations Person of the year in Kano/Jigawa State and the Young Achiever of the year from a Business, among others

27 Comments

  • I commend your fearless and objective writings. There is no where to indicate there is any problem between you and Madam Minister. Remain yourself don’t do anything irrational because of pressure. You have come a long way to have good reputation

  • Invisible Nigerians
    By Sam Omatseye published in the Nation Newspaper April 22, 2013

    A piece of news passed last week like a whiff. But I saw it as the whiff that precedes a resounding slap in the face. The finance minister, who likes to be called the coordinating minister of the economy, could not brook criticism. So she fired the so-called erring staff of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) because he accused the boss of ethnic favouritism. We call that tribalism in Nigeria.

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala likes to be considered a genius, and she carries a supercilious air of the world’s top economic technocrat. No wonder she wanted to be the top boss of the World Bank, even though she does not know that the Breton Woods institution inspires a philosophy that contradicts a developing nation such as Nigeria. Well, one would expect that having worked in such multicultural setting as the World Bank, she would be the last person to fire a person for exercising his right to self-expression.

    She cannot say she is not a politician because we saw her on television sporting a PDP outfit at a rally even if she danced like a nerd. She has, on paper, deferred to the democratic tenet that flourishes in an atmosphere of discordant peace, where everyone can defy because we deify differences.

    But that is not the real thrust of this column. She let a man, whose name is Yushau Shuaibu, NEMA’s spokesman, to go because he accused the minister of favouring her ethnic relatives. What strikes me is that a pattern is developing, and I am not interested in throwing blame. The pattern inhabits such names as Rose Uzoma, the former immigration boss, Azubuike Ihejirika, the chief of army staff and Stella Oduah, minister of aviation. All of them, including Okonjo-Iweala, belong to the same ethnic group, and they have been charged with a tribal tunnel vision.

    The last of such stories came from the heart of the army when Major-General Ihejirika, the first Igbo soldier to head the army since Ironsi, was petitioned as looking only within his ethnic cocoon for choice positions. It was a tempestuous story, and the army chief blazed out a defence of his stewardship. But it had no such detail as to quiet nerves. He did not reel out statistics. Rather he lashed out at his accusers and imputed motives. The motives may be correct. The accuser was an Hausa-Fulani who was probably in jingoistic fury that his ethnic brothers had lost their prime as the avatars in the nation’s hierarchy.

    Not many were satisfied, but the matter quieted. The army chief may have his points, but he did not take the patience to satisfy a variegated nation about the integrity of his stewardship. The aviation minister, Stella Oduah, also fell into the storm. But, in the same fashion as the army chief, her defence lacked the detail and balance that would sate an intellectual curiosity.

    Shuaibu’s article excoriating the finance mistress did not give much detail. But the mistress of the economy ought to have acted with grace and not with the hectoring fury of an Amazon. What concerns me is not whether the allegations are out but that a hypocritical nation has allowed the grudges to fester. The fury has sublimated in the courtesies of silence, or what the Senegalese novelist Sembene Ousmane calls the perfidy of lies and hypocrisy of rivals.

    We cannot forget that we dwell in a nation riven by ethnic duels today. The crisis in Plateau State between the so-called indigenes and settlers smouldered surreptitiously for years before it moved from community to a cumulus of fear and slaughter. Boko Haram is ostensibly a pious movement but all over it seethes the tribal angst. We cannot forget that the injustice that fomented the senseless killings of the Igbo in the 1960s followed pent-up resentments over what was the domination of the ethnic group in the civil service.

    I have no doubt that this is not a nation, as Okoi Arikpo once said. We are a nation state. It is a nation of nations in which individual components pass the years in mutual suspicion. But we have lived together for over five decades and the concept of Nigeria is even a century. Yet we still live in the words of the American writer with the “haunting fear that someone somewhere might be happy” because of one ethnic group or the other’s progress.

    If it is true that these allegations resound with facts, then we should not let them go under. Normally such matters ought to be scrutinised with thoroughness by the National Assembly in the fashion of the immigration boss who lost her job because it was true. If they are not true we ought to be satisfied by the report of a disinterested party and not the official line of the accused.

    When the Hausa-Fulani held sway, the Igbo spoke vociferously about marginalisation, and this writer on many occasions invested ink in support of giving the Southeast its fair share. It is an irony that the same group should be in that position today.

    The Hausa-Fulani did not apologise for holding the nation’s jugular, and we resented that then. Even President Goodluck Jonathan, who rode to power on the southern wave, is inspiring charges of pursuing an Ijaw agenda in the Niger Delta. When these charges are thrown, the cynical response is that it is their time. When will it be the time of fairness for Nigeria?

    The United States has fought this prejudice for over a century, and it still rankles the nation in spite of installing a black president in Barack Obama. But we have seen institutional sensitivity in the nation. Charges like these cannot go without thorough investigation.

    The Hausa-Fulani swaggered and we fumed. We do not want that to continue because to allow grudges to gather in the sewers of a nation’s subconscious is to postpone the day of duel that often is inevitable.

    The Yoruba never complained of marginalisation until recently. They have cried that the present dispensation under Jonathan has pooh-poohed the nation of Kaaro ojire. They have lashed back that the Yoruba had the speaker slot, but how do you choose for a person what he should have. But is the position of speaker sufficient to sate a people with the second largest ethnicity in the land? That chops logic. However, I have often told the Yoruba that they brought marginalisation on themselves because they voted for Jonathan without insisting on the quid pro quo in such democratic investment.

    What is clear is that we still live in a nation of idols. To simplify philosopher Plato, we have moulded idols. Here we have idols of the tribe, idols of the faith, and they all add up to idols of hate. Each tribal bigot continues to see, not Nigeria, but Hausa, Ibibio, Itsekiri, Igbo, Yoruba, etc. Others are invisible.

    When I read the novel The Invisible Man by the black writer Ralph Ellison about how the black man was invisible in the United States to the white man, I had to witness it myself to appreciate the pithy truths of his narratives. You could enter an office with a white person, and a person who knows you both may greet the other person as though you were not there. I experienced this.

    We have this in our country, and we act as though hell is other people, apologies to Jean Paul Sartre. It is time to crash the tunnel wall so we can see who sits on the other side.

  • Okonjo-Iweala could speak more circumspectly
    Posted in Hardball, Nation Newspaper on April 22, 2013

    By her confession, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and also Minister of Finance seems to be the target of online ethnic slurs, some of which she said were vicious, provocative and full of innuendoes. She is unhappy that she is being vilified in both the regular media and unregulated social media for allegedly favouring people of Igbo origin in public service appointments. She is right to feel uncomfortable with the accusations, for as she argued, most of the appointees used as examples in the allegations against her actually assumed their various offices before she became minister.

    But if she is really worried, she must find more effective ways of dispelling the rumours circulating about her lack of fair-mindedness. So far, the allegations have not gone away, and in fact may become even more complicated as a result of her distinctive approach to the problem. Last week, a newspaper reported that she complained to the leadership of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) over an article said to have been written by the agency’s image maker, Yushau Shuaibu. The article reportedly argued that Okonjo-Iweala favoured professionals of Igbo extraction in public service appointments and promotions. According to the report, Mr Shuaibu has since been relieved of his position on account of the trenchancy and inflammability of the article.

    It is doubtful, however, whether the allegations against the minister will go away soon, no matter how many people are sacked on account of her complaints. There is of course no proof that she is guilty of what she is accused of. In fact it is possible that her accusers are misinformed on her role in the promotion of Igbo officials in the public service. But there is no doubt that she is handling the allegations rather pigheadedly, if not insensitively. For instance, while responding to some of the allegations against her during a lecture she delivered at the Ola Ndi Igbo symposium in Lagos a few days ago, she offered explanations that were far from satisfactory. Miffed by the allegations, which she said were unfair, she had declared during her presentation entitled “Values, Mindsets and Culture” that she couldn’t give a damn – like President Goodluck Jonathan once said – what people said about her.

    Said she: “Somebody wrote an article on this saying that I have come there to prosecute an Igbo agenda, and then I saw another one saying this a big lie what has she done for the Igbos? She is there with Jonathan prosecuting a South-south agenda. So I thought that was wonderful. So my point is, I don’t give a damn. If the people got their on merit, they deserve it and we will stick with it as long as we know they didn’t get it through the back door.” But this idiosyncratic defiance was probably the tamest part of her reaction to the allegations.

    Hear her again, and note the hint of persecution complex: “There is something ethnic, and I am going through it now. If you check on the internet there are articles saying that Okonjo-Iweala has gone ethnic, but I believe in merit and competition and I don’t really care what part of the country you come from as long as you can do your job, and that has always been my tenet. So, actually Igbo don’t find that I am that convincing because, I think, in Nigeria, we need to have a culture of merit. But by the way, when you think of merit and competition Igbos don’t do badly and that is a problem, we do rather well. Somebody said everybody in the financial sector is Igbo then they began to list people like the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Director-General of Stock Exchange, Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission, Director-General of Debt Management Office, myself and Sovereign Wealth Fund.”

    Not only did she miss the import of the complaints against her style, especially on the issue of her interpretation of merit, she incredulously gave the impression that merit could not be compromised by subjectivity and that given Nigeria’s ethnic pastiche public officials did not need to be more sensitive and more restrained in public service promotions. Worse, it beggars belief that a minister of her standing could sound so ethnically triumphant by gloating that “when you think of merit and competition, Igbo don’t do badly, and that is a problem, we do rather well.” How very smug! As a minister Okonjo-Iweala needs to be magisterial, wiser, more temperate and circumspect in her utterances. Any minister, Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba, who makes the kind of utterances credited to her should be censured for unacceptable indiscretion. And this has nothing to do with whether she is guilty or innocent of the allegations levelled at her.

  • Yushau you know we’ll that I know you since your childhood days and I have been following your progress and write ups. In this piece I must say you sound apologetic. Remember what I thought you in your primary days,,,,,, say the truth and let whoever that is offended mend the fence. Ka cihi GABA.

  • I remember writing an article once on the killings of National Youth corpers during the April elections in 2011. Before publishing it, I gave it to Yushau to read as his opinion matters a lot to me but because the write up was written in anger and suggested the division of Nigeria if it would stop the killing of innocent ones on political basis, Yushau cautioned me, he said “No matter how you may feel at the moment, do not let your feelings becloud your sense of judgement, as much as possible, always try to promote your country in unity and peace”.
    The article on Okonjo-Iweala have been strongly misunderstood which happens a lot to many writers but the if Yushau is the man I know him to be, he did not mean for it to create such controversy, he is a good man and does not deserve the result that followed.

  • What a pity for someone doing his best towards a better image of the government to be treated this way. It can only happen in Nigeria. Yushau believe in God and remain yourself

  • You don’t have to apologize to anybody provided your conscience concurs to what you wrote more so when it represent the truth. Truth we must tell no matter whose ox is gored. But if you prefer your porridge of yam, then, go on your knees. The day of reckoning is coming when we separate the chaff form the wheat, he who has ear let him hear.

  • I am an Igbo. You do not offend me. I am just proud to say we make you what you are today. If you have served your NYSC in the North would you have reached your present potential. I am an Igbo from Oshimili (ASaba) delta. Keep up the good work but be very careful now

  • “Mr Yushau Shuaib, you can take solace in the fact that people born and raised with self dignity in Nigeria are an endangered species. From your blog, it is clear the minister strongly resent independent opinion, sequel to the aides ready to show their “loyalty” to her, instigating hates comments et al. The only reason Nigeria is where we are today is the profanity within the system, where aides turn humble and gentle debates into street fights using the most uncouth means and expression to bring governance into disrepute. It’s more amazing that Dr Okonjo Iweala allowed an opinion turned into a path of breach of right of expression of a citizen of Nigeria, a stronger resentment to the human right charter and the constitution of the federation. Nevertheless, it is Yushau today, who is next?! For all those that remain silent in the face of this adversity, cowardice, treachery and or both could be his/her abode. But be assured in posterity, it lasts beyond all generations.”

  • Mahatma Gandhi says it all. “Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  • Okonjo-Iweala denies role in sack of NEMA spokesman
    By Abdulkadir Badsha Mukhtar

    Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday denied orchestrating the dismissal of Mr. Yushau Shuaib from the civil service over a newspaper article he wrote. Shuaib, a prolific writer and author, had published an article in several newspapers recently on the alleged role of the minister in the skewing the process of appointing a new chairman for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
    A newspaper report yesterday said because of the article, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala engineered the redeployment of Shuaib from his post as spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) back to the Ministry of Information.
    He now faces a query and potential dismissal from the civil service unless he apologises to the minister, the report said. But in a reaction yesterday, the minister’s spokesman Paul Nwabuikwu denied Mrs Okonjo-Iwela is pushing for Shuaib’s dismissal.
    “I have seen several reports especially online which claim that the Finance Minister is using her power to oppress Mr Yushau Shuaib. That is false and unfair,” Nwabuikwu said in an emailed statement.
    “The minister is the one being oppressed here. Mr Shuaib accused her of pursuing an ethnic agenda in appointments. But those he mentioned as beneficiaries of the so called agenda are people who were already in office before she returned as minister.
    “So she is the victim of a serial campaign based on lies sponsored by people who are angry that due process rather than politics is being upheld in the recruitment of a new chair for FIRS. But we believe that every part of this country has brilliant people who have what it takes to go thru a competitive process and perform well at any level. No part of Nigeria has a monopoly of capable people. Our history confirms so.
    “To invoke the tragic events of 1966 based on these lies so flippantly as he did in the article is indeed unfortunate. I won’t say more than that. The minister did not give any order for anyone to lose his job. Unlike the ridiculous claims made in some media, she has no power to order another minister to fire anybody. If the gentleman is going through some internal processes it is not her doing. She is too busy with her portfolio to get involved in such things.
    “Dr Okonjo-Iweala is a humane and compassionate person and has no interest in making any one lose his job. She is very forgiving and I know whatever she can do to help even the undeserving she will do it. The many people who have hurt her know that. The ball is in his court.”

  • sir i tink u shud writ up to ngozi okonjo iweala about the youwin program..how the disbursement is made is really affecting this young enterpreneurs…am nt sure if the ministar knws wht is goin on in the youwin secrateriate..she shud use her power to invistigate why some qle are not paid even wen thz av been aprovd

  • @ McDonald: Your quote from Ghandhi is apt. Shuaibu is a man and not a weakling! He dared to speak his mind irrespective of the consequence. We need more people like him in Nigeria.

  • Sir,
    Your earlier article was not just an opinion but a poorly researched and seditious one. An attempt to portray some one in authority in bad light. You misrepresented facts and mischievously sought to create the impression that Madam Minister was biased,ethnocentric, and was influencing the appointment of people from her ethnic group into government positions.

    That my dear sir,could not have been farther from the truth. It was a deliberate distortion of facts at you disposal. You even alluded to events and condition’s of 1966 being replayed. Cheap sentiments at work. Else how would you achieve your obvious personal vendetta and vituperations against a section of the country? You,my dear sir,failed to investigate and verify your facts. Facts that were in the domain of public knowledge.You clearly violated a basic tenet of journalism,which i presume you were well aware of.

    Permit me please to quote what Mallam Sanusi Lamido had to say regarding the issues raised in your purportedly unofficial write up,

    ”At a media chat in Washington DC on Sunday by the Nigeria Economic Team, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi forcefully condemned the allegations by some Northern politicians, that the minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is pursuing an ethnic agenda

    This is what Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had to say;

    ”I cant understand these people, I was the one who came to Washington DC and got in touch with Mustapher Chike-Obi who was in New York to come and head AMCON. I took it upon myself to search for him because when we were at Kings College he was one of the most brilliant chaps that school has ever produced and while at Goldman Sachs, he excelled. He is world class, so I decided to bring him back to use his wealth of experience in Investment Banking to serve his fatherland. Ngozi has nothing to do with this.

    “On Kingsley Muoghalu who is one of my Deputies at CBN. I also went to London to poach him, the guy is good,he knows his onions, and I don’t care which part of Nigeria he comes from. This was done even before Ngozi joined the government, so how can she be responsible for this.

    “Nigeria is becoming such an interesting place that anything anyone does, must have an ethnic colouration or a hidden ethnic agenda. People do not understand what diversity means.”

    While you may still be wondering why your seemingly ‘harmless’ article is still generating so much response and furore,kindly ponder on this:

    “The question that must be asked is: Was the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua promoting Northern hegemony when he appointed Mallam Tanimu Yakubu, Dr Omar Mukhtar, Dr Usman Shamsudeen and Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Economic Adviser, Finance Minister, National Planning Minister and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria respectively?

    Igbo’s, Yoruba’s and other ethnic groups did not question Yar’Adua’s judgment then because these men were qualified for the positions and nobody accused Yar’adua of arewanisation policy.

    What is the lesson here? The best can come from any part of Nigeria. Inciting one ethnic group against another has led to tragic consequences in the past but fortunately the Nigerian public is fast losing its appetite for lies and deceitful propaganda. It is highly dishonest to keep silent when situation favors you and begin a campaign of lies”

    I rest my case.

    • Bro,
      U just nailed it. The guy is full of ethnic sentiments n can simply be describe as a BIGOT!
      He is just doing medicine afta death with his indirect half hearted apology.

    • Victor Unuigwe,
      Bro,
      U just nailed it. The guy is full of ethnic sentiments n can simply be describe as a BIGOT!
      He is just doing medicine afta death with his indirect half hearted apology.

  • Mallam, in Hausa parlance we say “ka yi da”! do not be cowwed by anybody keep the fire burning we are building a new Nigeria in which those who fail to do the right thing will feel like fish out of water- Allah saka ma ka da alheri

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Jonathan’s super minister
    By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, a Columnist with Vanguard and Blueprint Newspapers

    WHEN the story broke last week, that Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had ORDERED Information Minister, Labaran Maku, to punish Yushau Shuaibu, spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), for daring to criticise her, I wasn’t too surprised really.

    The story was that Ngozi not only insisted that the young man be removed from NEMA, he must be posted to one of the Boko Haram areas of the North, as punishment for the “temerity” of criticising the “super minister”, Ngozi! Shuaib’s offence was to have written an open letter to Ngozi, but the super minister’s grouse was located in the last paragraph of the letter: “For those of us who still respect the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development, we strongly believe she should dissociate herself from the current allegations of ‘biafranization’ of top public offices in Nigeria.

    We are in a democratic government where policy issues should not be done in dictatorial manner of ‘we-are-now-in-power’. I therefore urge her to ensure that appointments into important positions should be done in credible and transparent manner that can withstand public scrutiny”.

    Just to be double sure, I called Yushau and he confirmed that he had received a call from Ngozi, who complained that he had not been fair to her; she then demanded that he must write a rebuttal of the original piece.

    He was not prepared to do so. It was in anger that Ngozi allegedly reported directly to President Jonathan, bypassing the Information Minister at first, before her subsequent demand that Shuaib be removed from NEMA and sent as a Federal Information Officer in either Borno or Yobe.

    By late last week, the first leg of Ngozi’s wish was fulfilled with Yushau’s removal as NEMA spokesperson. The allegation of Ngozi’s alleged ‘biafranization’ project has gone viral on the web and it was actually an issue that she confronted in a lecture she gave to the Ola Ndi Igbo symposium recently in Lagos.

    Her presentation was titled “Values, Mindsets and Culture”; and it was significant that she acknowledged that there were allegations that “I have come to prosecute an Igbo agenda (in respect of public service appointments)”. In response, Ngozi said: “my point is, I don’t give a damn. If the people got there on merit, they deserve it and we will stick with it as long as we know they didn’t get it through the back door”.

    She then went on a triumphalist ride: “by the way, when you think of merit and competition Igbos don’t do badly and that is the problem, we do rather well. Somebody said everybody in the financial sector is Igbo; then they begin to list people like the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Director General of Stock Exchange, Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission, Director General of Debt Management Office, myself and Sovereign Wealth Fund”.

    Lionised guru

    As THE NATION newspaper’s HARDBALL column of Monday observed “Not only did she miss the import of the complaints against her style, especially on the issue of her interpretation of merit, she incredulously gave the impression that merit could not be compromised by subjectivity and that given Nigeria’s ethnic pastiche, public officials did not need to be more sensitive and more restrained in public service promotions.

    Worse, it beggars belief that a minister of her standing could sound so ethnically triumphant by gloating that ‘when you think of merit and competition, Igbo don’t do badly, and that is a problem, we do rather well’.

    How smug!” And how smug indeed! This ULTRA- REACTIONARY agent of imperialism can afford to gloat because she has been so lionised as some kind of guru by the Jonathan administration. And since she is the “super minister”, she can go as far as ordering the removal of a spokesman of a body that she does not directly supervise.

    One of the tragedies of the transition to a civilian regime in 1999, is the manner that characters who never participated in the struggle against dictatorship and do not share the aspirations of the Nigerian people, have come to occupy a central place in the policy making establishment, starting with Obasanjo.

    These reactionary “experts” come mainly from US-based imperialist institutions; the most prominent of them is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. That she is ordering the removal of a public servant from position, gives an indication of their mindset. They cannot tolerate criticism, yet they force down the throat of our country, policies that serve the interest of imperialism and a tiny elite.

    These are policies that they did not submit for national debate anyway! They can only thrive in settings that stifle debate or where state power is controlled by a ruling elite sworn to the implementation of the unpatriotic and unpopular policies of the Washington Consensus that they espouse.

    The removal of Yushau Shuaib at Ngozi‘s behest, underlines the danger which these Made-in-Washington “experts” constitute to the health of Nigeria; and where they are also openly implementing an ethnic agenda, then the trouble becomes compounded!

  • Okonjo- Iweala’s Misplaced Priority,
    By Zainab Suleiman Okino, Columnist with Blueprint Newspapers and other online media

    It does not require any special wizardry to know that Nigeria’s economy is tottering on the edge, no matter what our neo-liberal economic experts tell us. Resources from oil, the mainstay of the nation’s economy, are dwindling, no thanks to mismanagement, pervasive insecurity, lack of proper monitoring of the activities of oil majors and bunkering or theft of crude oil, which is put at 150,000 barrels a day. (The minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at a World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring meeting in Washinton DC, last Wednesday put the figure at 300,000 barrels per day). Out of the projected 2.48 million barrel per day crude oil
    production, output has since dropped to 2.1 million barrel per day.

    Only last week, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in a statement, said Nigeria lost N191 billion to oil theft and vandalism in the first quarter of this year. The second quarter is already looking bleak. Now, for an economy premised on N11.34 trillion revenue target in 2013 to lose this much in one quarter, means that the budgetary provisions for agencies and parastatals are already threatened. Besides production and forecast variables threatening the nation’s survival, the NNPC acting Group General Manager, Ms Tumini Green, in the same statement said that due to these negative trends, the NNPC/Shell Petroleum Development Company Joint Venture declared a force majeure (shut-in declaration) on Bonny Crude over 53 break points along the 97kilometre Nembe Creek Trunkline. Nigeria loses $7 billion annually to oil theft according to International Energy Agency.

    With these alarming rates from dismal statistics, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has her job already cut out for her. Apparently this is not grave enough to worry her. Instead of preoccupying herself with the shortfall in revenue, non remittance to the federation account by revenue generating agencies, and inefficient tax collection that should make up for the loss, and how to fix all the loose ends in the economy, the minister is engaged in petty squabbles with an innocent citizen of Nigeria who
    happens to be a civil servant.

    The latest in the minister’s petty bickering is the newsbreak in both online and local media last week that she masterminded and recommended the redeployment and subsequent sacking of NEMA spokesperson, Yushau Shuaib over a so-called anti-government article he published in his blog and newspapers sometime back. Since then, Okonjo-Iweala had been breathing down, on her co-minister, Labaran Maku, which culminated in the redeployment of Shuaib from NEMA. Presently, Shuaib’s job is on the line. More sanctions in the form of query or sack are likely. Part of the article that drew the minister’s ire reads: “For those of us who still respect the Hon Minister of Finance, we strongly advise she should dissociate herself from current allegations of ‘biafranization’ of top public offices in Nigeria. We are in a democratic government where policy issues should not be done in a dictatorial manner of ‘we-are-now-in-power’.

    “I, therefore, urge her to ensure that appointments into important positions should be done in credible and transparent manners that can withstand public scrutiny. I believe strongly that only those that mean well will dare to tell her the truth on the general feelings in the country”. However, instead of listening to the voice of reason and or ‘dissociate herself’ from this perception (wrong or right), the minister’s reaction of instigating Shuaib’s redeployment exposed her aversion to opinions other than hers? It also says a lot about her tolerance threshold and somewhat a confirmation of the veracity of the matter.

    Under the pretext that civil servants are not expected to write negative stories about government, Okonjo-Iweala is acting like an imperial minister in a democratic setting. Her lame defence as stated by her spokesperson, Paul Nwabuikwu, that the minister is “a victim of serial campaign based on lies sponsored by people, who are angry, that due process rather than politics is upheld in recruitment” has no force of conviction. We have it on good authority that the minister called the poor chap several times to heap invectives on him and to even threaten fire and brimstone,
    just because he is a civil servant who is not expected to have an opinion of his own. This is worrisome. Yet, she failed to address the main issue of bias and favouritism based on ethnic consideration.

    The point of Shuaib’s status as a civil servant is of uppermost interest. A middle level civil servant is the one giving the all powerful Okonjo-Iweala sleepless nights. Surely, there is more fire to the smoke. Perhaps that is the reason why she now wants to descend on this ‘small fry’ with a sledge hammer, forgetting that there is Freedom of Information Act in place, and freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution. For someone who prides herself as a scholar of international repute and who the country is proud of because of her global financial laurels;
    never mind that her prowess serves the West better than her motherland, (remember her N18 billion payment to Bretton Wood institutions to exit Nigeria from debt trap only for our woes to return), the minister’s attitude is out of sync with such persons of distinction. She comes from arguably an open society, where the rights of individuals to freely express themselves are not
    infringed upon by any (so called) minister of government.

    Out there the Okonjo-Iwealas praise the West and their system that puts leaders in constant check to be able to serve the people well. But back home, they play God and loathe fair comments and criticisms. The kind of challenge Shuaib threw at Okonjo-Iweala is what Obama and Cameron are faced with daily. But they do not harass their citizens for it. Instead, they try to offer explanation to convince the skeptic; they do not gag them or oppress them with their positions.
    This is nothing but double standard. She should rather confront Shuaib’s challenge with proof or evidence of her fair-mindedness and not try to gag or deprive the poor chap of his means of livelihood. People like Okonjo Iweala who try to project a positive image always, should just do what is right; to earn her legitimate praise or reward, and not sponsor promotional stories about her famed efficiency, transparency and honesty. Surely, Shuaib’s comment pales into insignificance when compared to the economic mess confronting the nation, which is what should reoccupy Okonjo-Iweala.

  • Press Freedom, Yushau Shuaib And Okonjo-Iweala
    Posted on Sahara Reporters By ABDULLAHI YUNUSA

    The saying, ‘a golden fish has no hiding place’ best describes the personality of Malam Yushau Abdulhameed Shuaib. A fine gentleman, certified Public Relations expert, professional pen pusher, astute manager and thoroughbred public affairs commentator.

    Through his syndicated write-ups mostly in the print media and online sites, Yushau has not just become readers delight, but has earned for himself the sobriquet of a consistent, fearless and meticulous social commentator. Yushau dishes humanity with the meal of fertile and virile news, his own humble contribution to Nigeria development, peace and harmonious living. His versatility in contemporary discourse and sagacity in people-based advocacy is never in doubt as he comments deeply on issues relating to the economy, politics, security, science and technology, culture, maritime as well as issues of general interest with relative ease. According to his close friends, Yushau derives unquantifiable satisfaction when people around him are well informed on the happenings in the country especially issues that are largely for the well being of the masses. This, they say accounts for why he has committed his entire being and resources to the business of writing right from his undergraduate days.

    Long before our paths crossed in 2011 courtesy of my bosom friend and award winning Agricultural reporter, Mohammad Baba Kandi, I’ve always enjoyed Malam Yushau’s critical but very incisive opinions in national issues and online sites. It is always a huge delight reading his well-researched, objective and balanced views on burning national and global issues. He belongs to the class of journalists and professionals whose writings are driven by passion for humanity and love for arts. Little wonder his write ups are devoid of sentiments and bias. Unlike other writers, Yushau has proven times without number that he cannot be bought over, neither can he be intimidated or pushed aside for daring to stand on the side of truth. At a time several of his colleagues are compromising the highly respected ethics of the journalism profession mostly for pecuniary gains, Yushau remains steadfast, incorruptible and professionally-minded. Material or monetary inducements are very insignificant to influence his decisions or make him to suppress the dictates of his conscience. The Yushau Shuaib that I know attaches less importance to things with ephemeral value, rather those things with enduring values catches his fancy. At a time many pen pushers and other public affairs commentator have shamelessly become tools for peddling lies, falsehood and penning stories aimed at boosting the egos of their paymasters, Yushau has chosen to tow the path of honour. You cannot call him a blind or mercantile writer. His conscience cannot be bought, not even with dollar, pound sterling, Euros or gold.

    Our society is plagued by myriad of challenges because those who know are not willing to assist others who don’t know. And without doubts, no meaningful development can ever be achieved in a society where people don’t share information or are not disposed to preparing others to confront life challenges. He is a firm believer in the saying that ‘stooping before a dwarf won’t cost you your height’. Giving others reasons to be happy won’t deprive you of your personal joy or happiness. These are his guiding principles.

    It takes more than mere interest and passion for one to be devotedly committed to a course. Writing is such a demanding and herculean task that many people prefer voicing their views than putting pen to paper. Its very boring and requires patience, determination and discipline to adopt it as a trade. It is a trade that comes with its own peculiar challenges. It takes someone who is really set to undergo the rigours of reading, reading, writing, writing and endless trials to master the trade. In the writing business, perfection is a question of constant practice. And it is in this regards that many aspiring and ambitious writers get consumed rather amateurly. For someone to have remained consistent in this less travelled path in the last 20 unbroken years is a feat worth celebrating.

    Malam Yushau Shuaib, though a senior Federal Civil Servant is a government official with a difference. Eye service, laziness, indolence, red tapism and other known vices which have all become features of public service in Nigeria cannot be found in his activities. He handles official assignments as though there were his father’s. Little wonder, he has continued to churn out several articles to educate Nigerians on the merits and demerits of government’s programmes and policies. Driven by extraordinary patriotism, he has continued to portray government in positive light in virtually all his articles. Despite the fact that he is not in the media team of President Goodluck Jonathan, this patriotic Nigerian has taken it upon himself to purge Nigerians of erroneous views about government activities through his barrage of articles in national dailies and on his Blog. If it were for others, such assignments must be rewarded with cash, but not Yushau.

    When I recently read about Malam Yushau’s alleged clash with Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala over an article the minister allegedly felt the writer wasn’t fair to her and several moves to ‘punish’ him, I became so worried. My worries are not because of threats of either redeploying him to another office or completely suspending him from service, but the mere fact that someone up there is trying hard to use her office to maltreat a patriotic Nigerian of Yushau’s standing. A man who has continued to shape peoples opinion through his brilliant writings should be celebrated and not tolerated. In saner climes where leaders attach values to extraordinary activities of their citizens, Yushau would have long been drafted into the President’s Media Team and not to be so treated like an ordinary citizen. What is Yushau’s alleged offence? When has it become a crime for any citizen to comment on issues capable of causing disaffection among Nigerians if left untouched? Nigeria, being a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and politically polarised nation certain issues require to be handled with extreme caution. For instance, appointment into government establishments remains a major issue that must be handled with utmost care. It is gravely dangerous to maintain sealed lips on complaints of lopsidedness in appointments to federal establishments. It is the right of all Nigerians of working age, irrespective of tribe, religion, colour or political leaning to be given the opportunity to work. So, if it is discovered that a particular part of the country is getting more attention in terms of federal appointments at the detriment of others, it is the duty of those concerned to cry out loud and clear until the issues are resolved. And that is exactly what Yushau has done. Obviously, his resolve to draw public attention to the alleged ‘Biafranization’ of our public service is not to either incite others against the Igbo nation or portray the minister as an ethnic jingoist. Instead of being shouted at and threatened, Yushau should be praised for using such a legitimate and responsible avenue (media) to draw attention to a looming problem. We are quite aware of the obvious fact that most of our problems are as a nation are fuelled by disagreements arising from sharing of our wealth and access to positions of authority. We need not turn deaf ears and blind eyes to those things which have the potency of destroying the bond that connects us. Instead, we should put our all in ensuring that we are constantly at peace with each other. It is instructive to note that if we allow greed and selfish tendencies to be the underlining motives behind our actions, then we are preparing for doom. Where is the sense in one part of the country developing and recording earth-shaking progress at the detriment of other regions? Such a prosperous region cannot possibly enjoy its ‘wealth’ while other regions are held down by excruciating poverty and lack. A popular Yoruba adage posits that, ‘A rich man in the midst of a poverty stricken people is himself a poor man’.

    As Nigerians, what should pre-occupy our minds should be what can we do to collectively address the plethora of challenges trying hard to ‘Somaliarize’ or ‘Sudanize’ our dear nation? Clamping down on supposed dissenting voices isn’t the solution. Wielding the big stick on innocent citizens who dare to address perceived injustice won’t do us any good, rather would only complicate our woes.

    Madam Finance Minister, Malam Yushau isn’t a fifth columnist, not a spoiler neither is he a mercantile writer seeking for prominence by ‘damaging’ the hard earned reputation of others. By every sense of it, he is an accomplished and successful man. He doesn’t need to defame or drag others to the mud to be heard and appreciated. It is normal for anyone to feel bad when his or her reputation is being questioned, but above all it very okay when such a move is aimed at correcting some obvious anomalies.

    This is not a paid write up. As a matter of fact the last time this writer saw this perfect gentleman called Yushau was in 2012 in his office. Since then, our meeting has always been on phone (we’ve spoken twice this year and exchanged two different text messages). So for those who think this writer is working for his money should have a rethink. Celebrated and iconic writers like Malam Yushau Shuaib doesn’t have to pay anyone to defend his course. He has paid his dues.

    He is an invaluable asset to Nigeria. Let me at this juncture recommend that this erudite PR man be drafted into the President Goodluck Jonathan’s media team. He has what it takes to properly, professionally and intelligently manage Mr President’s media matters. For very obvious reasons, the duo of Doyin Okupe and Reuben Abati are professionally disadvantaged to do a pristine job. Yushau has demonstrated his huge and unrivalled PR and media acumen in notable federal establishments in the past. The records are there. He was at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and now at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) where has taking media awareness on natural disaster management and preparedness to an unprecedented heights. Those who want him out of circulation should look beyond the personality of Yushau and weigh the consequences of his exit if shown the way out. We cannot afford to lose a thoroughbred information and media man to sentiments and parochial interests.

    ABDULLAHI YUNUSA, Minna, Niger State
    Meetprofwills@yahoo.com

Leave a Comment