I preferred to wait patiently for the outcome of the now gone but not forgotten Breton Woods 2012 head hunt where our Ngozi Okonjo Iweala assumed the role of Nigeria’s hot shot. For old school observers of the camouflaged “international development institutions” like me it was certain that she would never make it. Just as the discerning few African Americans know too well, it’s a white man’s world we are living in and living with, never mind all the hyped hoopla about an international community. The Obama phenomenon is now but a flash in the pan of racial equality which the US powers that be almost hoodwinked the world with by enabling the emergence of the unlikeliest American President ever. The unchanging reality of the white man’s world is that the blacks will remain Man (and Woman) Fridays, if only for the proverbial struggle to continue till the end of time.
From the way Madam Fixit of the Nigerian economy fame made a show of actually contesting for the World Bank top job, it was so easy to see her in the true colours of an imperialist maiden, equally adept in political solicitation as she is in economic sadism. It was enough to hear her crooning about the need for a “nimbler” World Bank, a rather rash remark for someone who was literally dyed-in-the-wool of the World Bank’s inhumanly austere maladjustments of economies. That was an outrageous outburst indeed and it could only have signaled an impending parting of ways between master and maiden but certainly not the words of a prospective Woman Friday on the eve of promotion. The prompt approvals of Ngozi Iweala’s infamous home-going leaves of absence by the caucus of the World Bank were definitely not indicative of her strategic relevance in the corridors of economic imperialism. Even her “impressive career” in the World Bank was after all a mere token of “equal opportunity”, not to be mistaken for acculturation, please!
So internationally and specifically within the covert chambers of the World Bank, it was a no-contest confirmed by “tradition” of selective favoritism enthroned by almighty America as overlord of the white man’s world. And America is more comfortable with diminutive “carry-go” Asians for such top jobs as in Ban ki Moon (UN) and now Jim Yong Kim (WB), than with a bland African woman sporting a precariously balanced head gear. All of this was known before Breton Woods 2012, so the wonder is that she was ever described as a leading contender. In fact, contrary to what many home-based spinners trumpeted, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala could not have gained any mileage for her wild-goose chase from her supposedly successful career as Madam Fixit of the Nigerian economy for the obvious reason of progressive collapse of the very economy she was specially invited to salvage.
There should be no contention about Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s unflinching loyalty to the dictates of the World Bank’s aforementioned sadistic treatment of ailing economies of the developing world. She has totally obliterated the appalling records left by her kinsmen-predecessors –Chu Okongwu and Kalu Idika Kalu-in implementing the deadly prescriptions of the World Bank/IMF voodoo-nomics, particularly in ensuring that the treatment is deadlier than the ailment. Even though SAP was a kiss of death our economy may yet resurrect from, Madam Fixit’s post-traumatic therapy unleashed first in the guise of a debt-destroying diet and now as a subsidy-subduing syrup, have proved terminally effective indeed. So much so that even die-hard Kalu Idika Kalu himself was in the forefront of “Occupy Nigeria” denunciators of Ngozimycin.
One only need to recall that President Goodluck Jonathan specially hauled in Mrs Iweala to fix the Nigerian economy with her famed but misleading combination of international expertise and local savvy in managing economies. If we recall further however we find that President Obasanjo, from whom GEJ was taking a cue, eventually side-kicked her to the foreign affairs ministry to ease her return to sender, seeing how much damage she had managed into the economy with calamitous political consequences even for dictator-turned-despot. Now on her second coming, Madam Fixit studiously presides over the transformation of the besieged economy into a debt-ridden, subsidy-guzzling, punisher of pensioners. All this without even adjusting her tottering head-tie!
In the particular case of the subsidy-scam, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s “expertise” was more concerned with taxing impoverished citizens by jerking petrol pump price to shore up a serially-looted and “near broke” government treasury than in establishing the facts of the matter as have now been astonishingly uncovered by Farouk Lawan’s House probe. It is unbelievable that a world-renown economist, brandishing credentials and careers in economic management can be so callously careless about evident corruption and economic sabotage on a such a scale as to question, nay debunk, her claim to scholarship, professionalism and moral rectitude. That’s how she also glossed over the KPMG report submitted to her which documented the pension scam until the House of Representatives opened the can of worms.
Yet she has no qualms prancing about the national stage as an outstanding technocrat worthy of honour and applause. On second thoughts, the only people who will applaud her appalling performance are those who have always placed priority in destabilizing promising developing countries with their notorious economic reforms which deform and derail them while debasing and denying the citizenry of the abundant endowments of their fatherland. It’s a pity that Woman Friday’s worst performance against her people could not earn her the top job in the engine-room of economic imperialism.
ABDULHAMID BABATUNDE is a former editor of THE DEMOCRAT newspaper in Kaduna