On Tuesday, August 19th, 2008, Professor Okereke-Onyuike sat down for an interview with a Nigerian daily Newspaper (The Punch) in which she reacted to the Obama for America Campaign’s repudiation of a Fund Raiser she recently held, purportedly in support of the Obama Campaign.  Below is a rejoinder to some portion of the interview.
Professor Okereke-Onyuike is a “VERY intelligent person”. She says so herself. So it must be true. She even has a PhD she did not buy. Or so she says. And that makes her very intelligent indeed. You see, it helps to be able to flaunt your PhD, especially after you’ve been so thoroughly bitch-slapped and spanked raw by the very people you so crave to be seen with.

You see, if you’ve spent the last several weeks claiming relevance and pretending to be in the know, fighting tooth and nail and fronting and claiming that you could single-handedly deliver sacks of Nairas to Barack Obama only to be so mercilessly shellacked and publicly disrobed by the Obama campaign, running to hide behind the shield of your Professorship is a winner. Got a “Green Card”, too? Why not toss that in there. Makes for a good sequin for your fig leaf, especially in a country where “Green Cards” are worth an arm, a leg and a first-born.

The stupidity (and mendacity) is so palpable; it seeps through like an overflowing sewer. The Professor strongly asserts her intelligence while displaying an uncanny (and very discomfiting) inability to grasp the larger implications of the ignoble actions that have brought her into such disrepute. The Professor not only comes across as retarded in her lack of comprehension of the issue at hand, her petulance also goes to show her wanton disregard for common decency – if we give her the benefit of the doubt and concede that she is indeed “VERY intelligent”. Since the Professor seems to be so inured against realities, let’s see if we can be of help by deconstructing her jejune “defense” of her misbehavior.

Professor Okereke-Onyuike is (regrettably) the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). It will not be far-fetched to say that the Nigeria Stock Exchange is a very delicate entity of high importance to Nigeria, Nigerians and the Nigerian economy. In fact, “Integrity” is said to be the watchword of the NSE. Its motto is “Our word is our bond”.  NSE and its operations have direct bearings on the viability of Nigeria as a country. So, one would think that the position of the head of the NSE is one requiring the highest degree of trust, fidelity, judgment, independence, and unimpeachable integrity and fiduciary, among others. Most of these qualities are what you don’t obtain through the possession of a card (Green or otherwise). How many of these did our honorable Professor display as she sought to ingratiate herself into the inner circles of the Obama Campaign through her illegal fund-raiser?

The Professor’s main point of defense (after owning up to the fact that she could not ship bags of money to the Obama Campaign as hitherto implied) is as follows:

“The event organised by ‘Africa for Obama’ was not aimed at raising funds for Obama but to sensitise Africans living in America…At no time did we say we were raising money for Obama…What we are saying is that Obama is for the world and he has been getting support from Europeans, from Arabs and from all over and Nigerians should not be different.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Stupidity exemplified and grossly amplified for the world to behold and berate. Makes one want to weep, or just hide under a rock – in shame.

Let’s discount the laughable claim that an organization that names itself “Africa for Obama” was not intending to raise money for Obama. Let’s just pretend that the money was meant for…. Oh, I don’t know…Robert Mugabe?

The D-G of a body responsible for the welfare of the country’s Exchange, publicly and shamelessly injecting herself (and, consequently her office, and the nation) squarely in the middle of partisan politics involving the largest economy on earth. The D.G., ostensibly “VERY intelligent”, but naively running her mouth and picking sides, while still in office, getting paid to do the people’s job of watching out for the welfare of the country. Is the Professor really blind to the fact that a loss by her chosen candidate portends a very real negative disposition towards Nigeria and Nigerian economy by the winner of the race? How many PhDs does it take for a D.G. to know that, by so openly choosing a side (and raising money and “mobilizing”), the other side will not look kindly on her or the entity she represents, and that if the other side were to win the contest, they would likely not pass up the opportunity to extract whatever retribution is due? Does the Professor not understand that the welfare of the Nigerian economy is of more importance than her quest for recognition clout? Does she just not care, or is the mad dash for nest-feathering more important to her?

Professor Okereke-Onyuike claims that she knows the law. To prove it, she lays claim to 14 years residency in the United States. Well, madam, I once lived near the General Hospital for that long, but that didn’t make me a Medical Doctor. In spite of the Professor’s protestation to the contrary, her actions indicate that she is either ignorant of the laws or she is just too used to flouting them at will. The laws do NOT permit the Professor to fund-raise from unqualified people or entities for a candidate for elected office in the United States. Unlike the rules under which the Professor is used to operating, the FEC rules are very clear in this case. Unless the Professor is able to demonstrate clearly that whatever fund she used in her “mobilization” effort has not been co-mingled with money collected from people/entities who are otherwise ineligible to make such contributions, the Professor’s PhD is not large enough to cover her exposed flank if anyone should file a complaint with the FEC.

Which now brings us to the other frightening aspect of this charade – Blackmail. The Professor is in a position of trust. Her position requires a person who is not only above-board in all his/her dealings, but also one who is not susceptible to arm-twisting or blackmail. Because, you see, the integrity of the Stock Exchange is paramount, and unless the market is able to wholly count on such integrity, our economy will continue to flounder. The Professor unwittingly and carelessly exposes herself to blackmail and (consequently) needlessly exposes the Nigerian economy to risks through her hare-brained (but unsolicited and unrequited) entanglement in shenanigans bordering on the criminal. A “VERY intelligent” Professor would not do that. Ask Professor Obama. Even a not-so-intelligent but decent human being would have resigned this position in order to free him-/herself up to engage in such undertaking rather than imperil the Exchange and the nation’s economy. Alas, our Professor only went through school while the school, apparently, failed to rub off on her.

The Professor claims that no-one who contributed to her fund-raiser was unduly influenced to do so. You can stop laughing now. The Professor was so indignant in her attempt to refute the insinuation, so much so that one wonders if she didn’t protest too much. We all know that the Professor would have told us if any arm had been twisted. According to her, no organization gave any cheque. See? No Cheque. Can’t prove quid-pro-quo. Now move on. Seeing that the Professor is a “VERY intelligent” Professor, would it not have been rather unintelligent of her to have accepted cheques at the event? I am not saying that they put all that $100 millions in shopping bags, but since the Professor was very specific about the method of payment that was NOT used, are we not entitled to ask her: was it cash and carry? This question may rile the honorable Professor. It is specifically for these reasons that the Professor should have respected the esteemed office that has been entrusted to her and stayed out of these sordid episodes. Common decency requires it.

Unfortunately, we only have the Professor’s words that no one was impelled to contribute to her junket. Given how many times the Professor has been found on the wrong side of history and issues, one could be excused if her words ring hollow and ineffectual in this case. It is indeed very hard to imagine (in a country such as Nigeria) that a vast majority of the people who ponied up the largesse for the Professor did not do so out of fear of retribution if they failed to serve up the required “egunje”. If the D.G. of the Nigerian Stock Exchange demands (subtly or otherwise) your presence at an event, you’d need more than balls of steel to not show up. Of course, the Professor may not have threatened anyone, but merely inserting herself (and, therefore, her office) into this sordid episode is enough to create the effect of extortion. The Professor may not like this inference very much, but this is what the Professor asked for through her imprudent use of her office. Without the imprimatur of the NSE, it is obvious that the Professor may well have raised perhaps a million, tops, and not the gazillion she ended up “mobilizing”.

The question now is what do those non-cheque-writing free-givers expect in return for their magnanimous gesture? Perhaps a little tweak on the Index at some future time, down the road? Of course not. The Professor is “VERY intelligent” and would not let such thing happen. We have her words. Forget that they have not amounted to much in the past. The Professor has a PhD, and no amount of walloping at the hands of the very people she pimps for would deter her from “mobilizing” to the fullest possible extent. It is just sad that the D.G. is not intelligent enough to realize that every time she drags herself and her name through these murky waters, she does not a little damage to her country and her country’s economy. A more thoughtful and decent human being would have found a way to decouple herself from such a sensitive office before dabbling into such messy matters as partisan politics.

Unfortunately, no one could accuse the honorable Professor Okereke-Onyuike of either thoughtfulness or decency. She has a “Green Card” and she knows how to play it.

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