Blog round-up: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Resignation as Minister

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Nweala recently re-signed from her position as Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister. The blogosphere has since been buzzing with views, opinions, critcisms and the like. We start with blackvoicesworldwatch‘s question: Why Did Nigeria’s Finance Minster –and One of That Country’s Top Reforemers — Quit?

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala quit her job with the World Bank in Washington to go to Nigeria to help rein in corruption and stabilize that country’s economy. Onlookers all over the world hailed that move as a sign of hope for the country and described Iweala as a promising reformer who could make important structural changes to Nigeria’s notoriously corrupt financial system. But in June, after a cabinet reshuffle in Nigeria, “Mrs. Debt Relief” was reassigned to that country’s foreign ministry. Iweala has declined that position and is on her way back to the United States.

Oluniyi David Ajao bares his mind about Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s exit from the Nigerian Govt

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s resignation last week did not come to me as a surprise. I was rather dissapointed at how the Federal Government of Nigeria could have made such a mistake of putting a gem like her aside. Yes, she was moved from the Finance Ministry to the Foreign Ministry and later removed as Head of Nigeria’s Economic Management team. A honourable person would have seen the handwriting on the wall and resigned. She did just that.

Sanaga Peregrinations briefly profiles Dr Okonjo-Iweala and is straight to the point: You did a great job ! Thanks ! You’re FIRED !

I guess I missed something or politics have too much intricacies for the simple mind of mine. The recent events in Nigeria and the resignation of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, proved that there is something decayed in the way our countries are run. The former Finance Minister of Olusegun Obasanjo was largely credited for the $18 billion debt cancellation from the Club of Paris. The Harvard trained former World Bank vice president was a woman on the rise, the “Corruption Cop” praised by Time magazine. Not only did she remove the clutches of the international creditors, but she also strove to restored the image of her country blamed for its corruption by Transparency International.

Chippla’s Weblog acknowledges that it’s unusual for a Nigerian government official to re-sign his/her post, but is confused about why the President re-deployed her initially: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Exit

Caught in a web of Nigerian political intrigues, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala does something very un-Nigerian—she resigns! When the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, reshuffled his ministerial cabinet in June 2006, he did something unthinkable. He moved Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the eyes of some (Nigerian bloggers included), this was a sign of greater things to come. Okonjo-Iweala was being prepared to assume political office, and a short stint in the Foreign Affairs Ministry was seen as a way of improving her political credentials. However, others were more skeptical (such as this blogger). In their opinion, Okonjo-Iweala was gradually being isolated by Mr. Obasanjo’s administration. Exactly why, no one could tell.

Musings of a Naijaman chooses to be “Appreciating Okonjo-Iweala’s achievements

Now that the news of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resigning (or Okonjo-Wahala, as she half-jokingly referred to herself in an interview with the UK Guardian this week) from the Nigerian cabinet has been confirmed, I think it’s important to note her many achievements which are detailed in the Guardian interview. It is very sad that someone who had sacrificed so much and who had contributed so much could be discarded in the shoddy way that she has been. Obasanjo is obviously sending a clear message to Nigerian professionals abroad- come back home and contribute what expertise you can so we can use and dump you.

My heart’s in Accra cannot be left out: Cut Corruption. Pay Debt. Accept Kudos. Get Fired.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been one of the brightest hopes for Nigeria. A former World Bank vice-president, she left the Bank in July 2005* to return to Nigeria and serve as Olusegun Obasanjo’s finance minister. This is far from an easy job in a country routinely ranked as one of the most corrupt in the world. But Okonjo-Iweala made incredible progress quite rapidly. Under her leadership, Nigeria tripled foriegn currency reserves, slashed inflation in half and experienced GDP growth of 6% per year. She negotiated a deal in which Nigeria received $18 billion in debt cancellation from bilaterial Club of Paris creditors in exchange for $12 billion made in payments, repurposed from oil revenues, which have increased markedly due to the high global price of oil. Time Magazine honored her accomplishments, calling her a “hero” in 2004.

Ayoke of Exodus is not happy about Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s resignation, at all. She bares her mind: Okonjo-Iweala: I did ask her to resign…

When the first news broke out, I reacted with anger.With the benefit of hindsight, I do not think Usman is incapable. Not at all. As someone wrote, nobody is a repository of wisdom. And we really need to develop a culture of successor planning. An incumbent is only as good as his successor. That was my emotion when the Namibians kept saying Sam Nujoma should remain President. That said, I still feel really bad at the fact that Okonjo-Iweala remains as Minister after being removed as leader of the Economic Management Team. It’s not so much as her being slighted. I have other reasons for wondering aloud whether it is not impossible that this woman has been bitten by the power bug which makes great men fall.

Akin’s blog post title tells it all: A doctor without a patient

It would appear that the new Minister of Finance who deputised for Dr Okonjo-Iweala was not ripe enough to assume that position and handle it with the despatch and expertise of her former boss. Her not relinquishing the post with the ministerial appointment might also have been the sop to keep the doctor in the cabinet as well as quell the fears of global economic monitors who would have thought Nigeria was about to descend in pre-election profligacy. It now transpires that whilst the doctor was busy negotiating the Nigeria’s exit from the London Club of creditors she received a letter indicating that with immediate effect she is no more the chair of the Economic Management Team as the post would now go to the current Minister of Finance who in less than six weeks is supposed to have mastered the brief.

Grandiose Parlor whilst saying: “Bye Ngozi“, concludes:

I’m sure that there is more to Ngozi’s move that meets the eye; whatever they are it definitely does not portend a good omen for the nation.

We wrap-up this blog round-up with Anaedo’s Periscope‘s comments and advice: Goodbye Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

Mrs Ngozi Iweala should do herself a favor. She has proven that she has the capacity to perform at the highest levels of government; Nigerians of all shades can testify that she was a voice of reason and a vessel of gold in a cupboard of cobwebs and bones. I have no doubt in my mind that she can sleep well at night knowing fully well that she has done her part. However, if she ever decides to get back into Nigeria’s political circles again, she owes it to herself to critically assess the characters at the helm of government to see if indeed the occupiers of the loftiest positions are of the same persuasion and ideological bent. If she does this self-evaluation before the end of Obasanjo’s tenure in 2007, and she still wants to be in the political arena, then I expect her to begin now to surround herself with other sincere and capable professionals who are desirous of lasting change in Nigeria. No more striving for excellence amdst the rankling collegiality of unabashed misfits. My sympathies are with ordinary Nigerians who will undoubtedly continue to suffer while the corrupt bunch in Nigeria’s administrative circles continue their devious cut-throat politicking liberally sprinkled with unrivalled avarice. In my mind, one thing is definitely certain–ominous things are in store for Nigeria as we approach the end of Obasanjo’s tenure in May 2007!

——- * Readers note: Dr Okonjo-Iweala joined the Nigerian government much earlier than July 2005. The statement by the blogger is a factual error. This was not corrected at the time of writing this blog round-up. See a commentators correction. According to the August 4, 2006 edition of Vanguard, a Nigerian daily newspaper, “She was appointed Nigeria’s first female Minister of Finance, on July 15, 2003, where she called the shots until June 21.”

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.

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