Minister Ngozi Iweala And The Turtle

Posted: June 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

 Image By Prince Charles Dickson

 

The greatest lesson in life is to know that sometimes even fools are right—Winston Churchill

 

Early this year, I was with Ngozi Iweala and she spoke glowing on Nigeria’s economy, gdp and all those terms. I nodded and smiled.  I recalled our meeting pre-debt relief era and all her talk then…it wasn’t so much of a changed woman.

 

Only a week ago she was again at it with Labaran Maku, the chief talkative as umpire at the ministerial briefing, more and more figures and data of progress, international validation and all that ratings from fitch.

 

Labaran in his usual hyperactive manner praised her as the best thing after slice bread…all talk anyway.

 

For all my little education, my maths is very poor, my knowledge of economics relatively average, and my level of financial know-how is not more than those high-sounding words and those pages of the financial markets in newspapers and those confusing figures and abbreviations on screen.

 

I take it that I am a fool, but on account of the issues I am right.  She has remained like the turtle that just did not know when to keep quiet, a story I would tell us before I close this admonition.

 

Many Nigerians may have forgotten how we waited for madam for months, she resumed office vowing, promising, swearing, meeting, huffing and puffing.

 

She pledged to tighten fiscal policy amid falling oil prices and turbulent global financial markets. With her counterpart in the commerce and industry ministry, it has been all talk, fact is that except the Lebanese and their bread and bombs, these days, Indians who are running our plastic factories, the Chinese and all its inferior phones, Thailand and rice,  these days it’s become bad we enter MOUs with Vietnamese. Who really is investing in Nigeria with sincere motives for mutual benefits?

 

Jonathan had asked and begged Okonjo-Iweala to return to government after ‘winning’ the presidential polls, expanding her mandate to include the coordination of economic policy. Her priority, find ways to meet Jonathan’s goals of increasing investment in power plants, roads and agriculture to help diversify the economy and create jobs. She is supposed to be fresh breath itself!

 

How all NOI figure talk in a nation literally run by a group of political vandals finding plumage in a bird cage of the thieving ruling class and opposition remains a mirage. Because the truth is, there are no jobs, businesses are falling, industries closing and not that these are new stories, government bazaar spending and borrowing continues.

 

While madam reels those sweet looking figures, in the words of the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina Nigeria is eating beyond its means. “This is not fiscally, economically or politically sustainable.

 

Well, let me share this folklore, once, in a certain lake, there lived a turtle and a pair of swans. The turtle and the swans were friends. They would spend all their free time together telling each other stories, and exchanging news and gossip. The turtle especially loved to talk and chatter, and always had something to say.

 

One year, the rains did not come, and the lake began to dry up. The swans became worried. Supposing it did not rain at all, and the lake dried up completely? Where would they live in that case? But the turtle had a plan. She suggested that the swans fly in search of a lake that still had plenty of water. Once they found such a lake, all three of them could move there.

 

The swans agreed and flew off. After flying for several hours they the perfect lake. They returned to the turtle with the good news. But now another problem arose: the new lake was too far for the turtle to walk. How was the turtle to get there? The swans did not want to leave their friend behind.

 

The turtle thought for a while and came up with another plan. She asked the swans to find a strong stick that they could hold in their beaks. The turtle would then hang on to the stick with her mouth, and the swans could fly with her to the new lake.

 

The swans liked the idea, though they were worried that the turtle might begin talking and fall off the stick. ‘You must be careful not to open your mouth while we are flying with you,’ they warned her. ‘Do you think you will be able to be quiet for such a long time?’

 

‘Of course,’ said the turtle. ‘I will be careful – I know when to stop talking.’

 

So the swans did as she asked. They found a strong stick and each swan held one end of it in its beak. The turtle held on to the middle with her mouth, and away they flew, all three of them.

 

It was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to the turtle. She was amazed at the way the world looked so far above the ground. She was longing to say something, but remembered in time to keep quiet.

 

At last they reached the lake the swans had found. It was a beautiful lake, large and blue, with plenty of water. ‘Oh look!’ the turtle began in excitement, remembering much too late to keep quiet. The stick slipped from her mouth and down she fell from the sky onto the rocks below. The swans were sad to see the end of their friend – the turtle did not live to enjoy the lake, only because she did not know when to stop talking.

 

Fact is all these figures in more than many ways are publicity/public relations and image stunts…someone needs to stop talking and act.

 

Like a former finance minister put it, “The issues are: meaningful anti-corruption with a clear even-handedness, across-the- board,…power generation and regular delivery to industry and households; healthcare to citizens at a level and coverage that’s consonant with our resources; significant level of meaningful employment through job creation from the real sectors.

 

Primary, secondary and tertiary, including hard and soft infrastructures; poverty alleviation through a more effective spread of social safety net, and the use of fiscal interventions in public spending at federal, state and local governments.

 

The prerequisites for improving our weak institutions would cover the following: adhering to the basic principles of democratic governance, not just in words, but by deeds!

 

Adhering to the Principle of the Rule of Law; accountable practices in public and private financial dealings. It also calls for a secure environment, and the nurturing of the various freedoms.  Freedom to select and freely vote for candidates, unfettered by political pressure or corrupting influences”.

 

In Brazil, more than 250,000 anti-government demonstrators took to streets in several Brazilian cities and engaged police in some isolated, intense conflicts. Anger over political corruption emerged as the unifying issue for the demonstrators, who vowed to stay in the streets until concrete steps are taken to reform the political system.

 

…This is a Brazil that is seemingly working…Ngozi Iweala, Ms. Sarah of the 60% of Nigerians have water, and the agriculture minister dude of give me your gsm number movie, labaran and co. should get their acts right, and quick too, education is dying a cruel death, regarding electricity, till we see the tunnel at the end of darkness, I may be a fool, but I pray for the sake of millions we are wrong and Jonathan and his transformers are right, only time will tell.

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