Just what Nigeria’s Economy Doctor, Okonjo Iweala recommends: a $550 million World Bank loan to “aid agriculture”

October 2, 2011


by Tola Adenle

Since by now, my name must be among “those who did not want Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to take the appointment [of Finance Minister and Economy Director-General] because they do not wish Nigeria well” and, by extension, those who do not want Dr. Jonathan to succeed, this essay confirms why I’m one of Jonathan’s enemies.  I do remember though that those of us who stood resolute in sticking our necks out in his support during the early sad days of Late Yar Adua’s government of travesty were few, although it would take Northern Nigeria’s self-entitlement cries before I said why-not to Jonathan’s desire to run.  I believed – still do –  and did express the opinion that Nigeria would have a better election if the conductor-in-chief was not a contestant.   Those are just by the way.

Before I proceed, therefore, the conclusion of this essay, first: The World Bank and its fellow travelers – the so-called donor agencies and Western interests – have achieved exactly what they want by supporting Jonathan’s presidency, and the President has demonstrated what great stock he puts in the support of these institutions and constituencies by recently dismissing Nigerian critics.

As comments to a recent essay in online Sahara Reporters, “Correct me if I am right” column by Rudolf Okonkwo regarding President Jonathan’s recent UN trip, I submitted:

Commenting on this would be superfluous

Submitted by tola adenle on September 27, 2011 – 20:59.

Two things that must be mentioned, though:  this is an incredibly well-written piece AND I’m relieved that my belief that President Jonathan is not up to the task of ruling Nigeria played no part in my judgement that THAT picture of him BEFORE Dear Hillary is a big embarrassment.  Worse is to hear that the apparent very submissive pose Nigeria’s President struck before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is something to be gloated over.”Eeyah”, indeed. emotanafricana.com.

Equating the “praises” heaped on him by official Washington:  Obama, Hillary Clinton, etcetera – and the Western world, with success in leadership of Nigeria is even worse embarrassment than his picture BEFORE Hillary; it’s different from a picture WITH Hillary.  The USA’s needs for Nigeria may not be as great as Nigeria’s need of good old USA, but the few ways are NOT negligible:  crude, the Palestinian matter, fighting domestic terrorism, etcetera.  ”Oga Jonathan”,  as some bloggers have resorted to addressing the Nigerian President, they are at the root of the paddy-paddy, not any respect or acknowledgement of any perceived accomplishment of yours.  Any accomplishment of yours would be perceived by Nigerians before they are by the rest of the world.

I bring this in because it all seems like part of the foisting of Iweala on Jonathan so that Nigeria’s economy can go the way that would benefit Western interests which can never be in the interest of the Nigerian masses.  The lady may be a “Nigerian patriot” but I wonder if her belief which dovetails with donor agencies’ and Western lenders’ prescriptions for hapless countries like Nigeria can co-exist.  Pardon me, a closet full of “Nigerian” Ankara – albeit Holland-made – CANNOT a “super patriot” make.

A newspaper editorial, in apparent awe of Dr. Iweala’s capability to deliver loans, last week made uncomfortable and sad reading of a very subjective and suspicious piece. I know I’ve already used “embarrassing” twice in this essay, but excuse me one more time:  that editorial is worse than embarrassing.  It is cheap, it is flippant, and it portrays Nigeria as it is today: a country where kissing-up and sycophancy reign supreme, not even by, but unfortunately perhaps mostly by-  journalists.   I do not want to go the route of my old series in newspaper writing,  ”inexactitudes”, but must mention the abundance of trite and superfluous words and expressions in the piece.  I will, naturally, stop short of naming the paper. Before writing this, I went for a re-check, was the article a news report or an EDITORIAL that could gush?

“The cash is a truckload, her optimism is infectious and her zeal this time around is that of a super patriot … she revealed that Nigeria was on the verge of being ‘advanced’ funding to the tune of about $550 million from the world body.

“That is the way to go girl. Considering the fact that the minister moved from being one of the managing directors of that institution to her current job, and more so that this is her second coming to the job plus that the conditions at home today are even more precarious  than before, she can use every help that she can muster. It is quite salutary that Mrs Okonjo-iweala seems to be pulling all stops and even more so that her former employers are willing to help her succeed at her new job.

We say that it is great for her to seek to quickly leverage on her clout to access lump sum funding to deploy in some areas of the economy that could earn the government some quick results …”

Below are excerpts of the Rudolph Okonkwo’s piece, which is an Open letter to President  Jonathan, http://saharareporters.com/column/my-apologies-president-jonathan, an essay that calls on him to stop thinking ‘critics’ and start ‘doing’.  Okonkwo takes a swipe at Jonathan for making a big deal of President Obama’s commendation letter.  As anyone familiar with the American system knows, Obama – like presidents before him – knows  he’s answerable to voters, and understands the value of citizens being recognized by their leaders. If you’ve contributed to his election or stood out as a community organizer/volunteer, etcetera, you must have received one of those mails or even signed plaques, huge photographs or the like that praise, thank and applaud.  Thousands and thousands have, including this Blogger.  Americans appreciate such recognition from their leaders but any recipient of such knows it’s nothing to make a song and dance of.

“…I do pity you, Mr. President. But I cannot sugarcoat things because I’m livid that you haven’t declared your assets yet … Often, I hear you and your friends in high places say that you don’t mind constructive criticism. You ask that we proffer solutions when we criticize. Well, I thought by pointing out the problems we have invariably made the solution obvious…

“We say that we are outraged that 469 people in Nigeria’s National Assembly get paid over N150 million (about $1million) each every year. That’s about $500 million in total. What does that say to you? Do you need from us a solution on that?

“We say that we are mad that the Nigerian government spent $3.2 billion of our money to build Delta Steel Co … sold to a company that is a front for Obasanjo for mere $120 million …

“… we are fuming because Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim bought NICON, valued at N50 billion for N1.05 billion. He used equity in the company to borrow N41 billion from Union Bank PLC …

“…  we are furious because Theophilus Danjuma made $4.5 billion when he sold to a Chinese corporation 45% share of a company he build around the two oil blocks Gen. Sani Abacha “dashed” him. He said that after paying taxes and taking care of all he could think of, he had $500 million left. To avoid having his children fight over too much money after he’s dead, he used $100 million to set up a Foundation …

“Forget about them-others. What about you? Why haven’t you declared your assets? How much do you get as security vote? Even if you are so helpless about stopping others, why can’t you live by example[Emphasis Mine.]

“In your swipe at us, you essentially said that while we were busy hating you at home, world leaders were busy extolling you abroad.

“President Obama commended me,” you said, like a teenager asked out on a date by a cheerleader. Eeyaah!

“Maybe I should tell you that President Obama commended me too? And I never met him. I have a letter written and signed by Obama to prove it. In the letter, Obama called me his friend. He even sends me emails every Friday. So what is the big deal?

“I noticed that Obama’s commendation wasn’t all that when I discovered that it doesn’t mean a thing to my children. And frankly, I am more interested in what my children think about me than what Obama thinks about me.

“Also, I saw the picture of you taking instructions from Hilary Clinton. Her pose was not that of someone commending. It was more of someone commanding. And your pose wasn’t that of a lion or a Pharaoh or an army general. Yours was that of a schoolboy taking instructions from the headmistress. 

Above is a major but necessary digression!

Now, why does Nigeria need to borrow $500 million for agriculture?  How much of this would be looted and how much would actually go towards ag?  Why does Nigeria keep taking these loans a mere few years after fleeing the bondage of debtor-dom?  It’s no secret that Nigeria takes grants as little as $600,000 – a not piddling part of which is yet often misappropriated by civil servants and those who execute these projects supposedly for the people. 

Pray, what exactly does the country use its massive oil resources for when it seems to need loans and grants for very many of its needs, including fueling vehicles mostly deployed to personal uses?

I must have written over half a dozen essays and contributed several comments in the last two years or so about Okonjo Iweala.  It started after I saw her make a pronouncement on television in South Africa after she had left her Obasanjo ministerial post suggesting that Nigeria still “needs foreign loans” in spite of having exited Debtor-dom under her guidance.   One such essay, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Doctor; NgoziOkonjoIweala Polls, Nigeria’s burgeoning loans, etcetera” was one of my weekly essays in The Nation on Sunday

By the time it was apparent that Jonathan would HAVE TO have Iweala as minister, I wrote why I believed (still do) that she cannot – and would not – serve two Masters. The Bank is her main boss and to that institution and all it, and others like it stand for – she cannot but owe allegiance.

In addition, by her education and training, she apparently believes this prescription of more borrowing would eventually work:  keep administering chemo; eventually, the cancer may die but the patient too may also die. Barely a couple of years after Nigeria became debt-free under Iweala’s guidance, The Punch of November 19 last year made a startling revelation:   “NIGERIA spent N960bn ($6.4bn) on debt servicing between 2008 and 2009.”

In fact, the borrowing spree has seemingly gone beyond rational to manic as can be seen from http://emotanafricana.com/2011/06/16/abracadabra-nigerian-government-accounting/.  For quick reference, here is a para:   Here are excerpts from THE NATION of today, June 16:  “Federation Account: N51b deducted to pay London Club debt” … the newspaper story claims  no one really can tell who took the loans or what they were spent on!”  Does Nigeria sound like a nation that should be given loans?  Donor countries represented by institutions like The Bank & the IMF think so becausein dem misery lies our wealth, I beg. Fat commissions await the go-betweens while the donor countries collect interests that seemingly go on for ever and they cannot be afraid of default by the likes of Nigeria because the screws would be tightened where they wait.

The death-grip by sharks in “donor” garb is now tight with a resident rep to oversee a sharecropping country that is led by those who care very little about the people’s interest and/or will.

PS.  I write as a non-lettered person in Economics or Politics.



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