For whoever may be unaware, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been close to the central command team overseeing the Nigerian economy, in one capacity or the other, for the past 15 years. Both the Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations placed the World Bank economist at the driver seat in deriving and implementing their respective economic policies. It is, therefore, understandable why Ms. Okonja-Iweala is in the position to be lauded or blamed for whatever are good or bad with the economic policies of 21st Century Nigeria. But to portray the ex-Finance Minister as a rogue who is fit for public lynching in a bonfire befuddles the mind. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala …..being depicted as a robber who deserves a humiliating public execution? So says who?
Making a caricature of the former Finance Minister has partisan politics written all over it. It is easy to see that those who are hell-bent on discrediting the immediate past administration which she served are behind this depraved caricature. But why isolate this woman for blame for the “iniquities” of an administration which she did not head? Perhaps, she is deemed to be the easiest target to assail publicly without getting the assailants’ fingers burnt in the process. First and foremost, she is a woman found treading in a turf presumed to be an exclusive realm for men. Also important is the fact that she belongs to a geopolitical alignment that is not in tune with the partisan formation and personalities in power today. But whatever may be the reason, does it justify the subliminal callout for her assassination as implied by this photoshopped caricature of the ex-Minister?
It is likely that protagonists of the incumbent administration needed to create a mascot to emblemize their purported “war against corruption” and the perceived head of GEJ administration’s economic team must have been deemed a most appropriate candidate for sich. The hardliners within the Buhari camp are on a crusade to expunge the preceding administration’s imprimatur from all aspects of the incumbent regime’s policy posture, especially with regards to the economy. But here is the question. Can persistent castigation of a preceding administration be an acceptable substitute for derivation of a novel policy direction that all can see? Talking down on the GEJ administration was okay during the electioneering campaign which had ended with the presidential election of March 28, 2015. Buhari, the winner, was sworn in as president on May 29, 2015 and anyone still operating in an electioneering campaign mode must be completely out of touch with reality.
Sustainable economic policies are usually configured in ways to retain important elements of continuity even if there is some change of direction. It is hard to see any significant difference between the incumbent administration’s economic policies and those of its predecessor. Perhaps, there is a subtle difference in emphasis and rhetoric. But the basics remain the same. The national economy still remains predicated on disbursement of monthly allocations from the central coffers at Abuja to the periphery. This model of business spurns corruption within the government and its bureaucracy. What then is gained by spending valuable political capital and goodwill in chasing shadows in lieu of pursuit of clear policies which everyone can see and understand? Paying lip service to fighting corruption is one thing; having a practical plan in place for deriving novel ways of mitigating corrupt practices is an entirely different animal altogether. Name calling and making a caricature of perceived political opponents are mere gimmickry which cannot help anyone or accomplishing anything.
The caricature of Ms. Okonjo-Iweala is definitely a misplaced witch-hunt which implies that something might be going terribly wrong within the incumbent federal government headed by Buhari and the APC. The caricature depicts the imagery of a household that is divided against itself. The Nigerian economy is in total disarray and no amount of passing of blames can change the situation. Finger pointing across the political partisan divide among the two top parties, PDP & APC, doesn’t impress anyone who truly understands the nature and extent of decay that has overwhelmed the country as we speak.
Mock lynching of past political leaders and technocrats underscore the fact that all is not well at the epicenter of Nigeria’s top leadership echelon. It is Ngozi Okonko-Iweala today; it is destined to be one of the incumbent players’ turn tomorrow. What a waste of valuable time!