The Frustrations of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala et al By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

I recently watched with great pity a video of Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala giving a keynote speech at the 5th Annual African Business Conference at Harvard Business School in February of 2013. She spoke on Redefining Africa: The Emergence of a New African Story. As is customary with her, she used all the usual macro and micro economic terms that dazzle the untrained ears. Watch: http://youtu.be/y6xPhD2sjik

During the question and answer session, attendees, many of whom considered her a rock star, asked her questions about accountability and transparency. One participant pointedly asked her about Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili’s charge that $67 billion dollars was mismanaged by Presidents Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala stated that she did not want to be drawn into that argument. “You don’t want to embark on a debate based on the wrong premise. Do you?” she asked the audience. “I don’t want to enter into dialogues that are not based on accurate information,” she continued in her defense, stating that the Jonathan administration has produced accurate information on Foreign Reserves for all to see.

“There is a very strong penchant in Nigeria, for people to just throw numbers any which way they like with very little regard for accuracy,” she said. “And somehow the larger the better. You know and whether it is correct or not, nobody cares. Even when you are putting out the accurate information they don’t even want to believe. So I don’t engage in fruitless debates that are not based on accurate information.”

Now this is the same Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who, in a pushback to the charge that corruption was endemic in Nigeria, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that, “99.9% of them (Nigerians) are honest and hardworking citizens...”

At the Boston event, the former World Bank executive went on to say that she believed in accountability and talked about how she had been publishing relevant information for people to utilize in holding their government accountable. Several times she asked the audience, “How many of you have even seen this? … How many of you have ever seen that? … How many of you know that?” These highly educated Harvard types were silent. Then Ngozi, out of frustration said, “Well, you know, the frustration is that many of the things we are doing people don’t see or know about. You can take a horse to the water but you can’t force it to drink.” At one point, she said, “I’ve done the best I can.”

Political commentators are not paid to sympathize with public officials. They are paid to scrutinize them.

Some readers often ask for criticism to be constructive.  By extension, they demand that the right to point out problems comes with the responsibility to offer solutions. The truth is that there is one simple solution to any problem; adopt the best practice.

In this day and age, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The best practice is out there for those who wish to have it. Our problem is that we often fear the best practice because it requires getting off our comfort zone and doing a little hard work. Unfortunately for us, the fear of the best practice is the beginning of mediocrity.

Imagine this! At exactly 10 in the morning, Mr. Reuben Abati briskly walks into a packed Press Room at Aso Rock Villa with a yellow folder in his hands. TV stations take a break from regular programming to connect to their feed at Aso Rock. Aso Rock website and online media all plug in to livestream. Abati heads straight to the podium, opens his briefing note, scans the room and says, “Good Morning.” He recites the activities of the president for the day. He expresses the president’s concerns that center on the issues of the moment, closes his folder and says, “I will now take your questions.”

With TV cameras rolling, NTA, ITA, Channels, State TV stations, he pans through the room and calls on the first reporter to ask his question. He goes from one reporter to another; newspaper reporters, radio reporters, TV reporters, online reporters, bloggers and all. He calls them by name. When they ask a question that he does not have an answer to, he tells the reporter that he will check and get back to him or her. One hour after, he ends the press briefing. Reporters put back their notes in their bags and head out to write their stories of the day.

Imagine this repeated once a week. Imagine this done once every day. When Abati is not available, his deputy will step in. Just imagine!

Here are things that would change instantly. Abati would have a daily opportunity to articulate the government position for the nation. He would spend time preparing for the daily briefing. Because of the nature of the exchange, Abati could leverage the need for the media to know to his advantage- the president would be compelled to provide him more information else he would be ridiculed by the press. Most importantly, Abati would have less need to say, “NOTED” as he did during my interview with him last week. http://youtu.be/SmZj3WV8bZA

On the part of the press, knowing that the citizens are watching, reporters would ask serious questions knowing that their reputation and the reputation of their media organization is on the line. Because the viewing public is following, the reporters will remember to follow up on the stories that their media outlets have published. Everybody will be on their toes, including those without toes.

Do this for six months and you will be amazed at how smarter everybody will appear; the reporter, the press spokesman, and the people. And even the government. But most importantly, the people will get a glimpse of what it means for a government to be transparent and accountable.

Now imagine President Goodluck Jonathan doing the same things once every three months. And as Abati ‘noted’ in my interview with him, the Facebook president will take questions from Nigerians online once every six months. It may be rough at the beginning, but with time he will begin to master the art. He will learn to banter with the media. And most importantly, he will get a good understanding of the concerns of the Nigerian people. And who knows, maybe, if he is frank and forthright, the people may reward him with their sympathy and understanding.

More than anyone else, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala ought to know that just like a heap of stones does not make a house, a pile of data does not make an intelligent narrative. Imagine Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala holding a press conference each month in the glare of the citizens of Nigeria, taking questions from reporters on what she has been doing as the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy. Questions like, “Madam, you said that you publish how much money goes to each tier of the government, so how much does President Jonathan get each month as the security vote? Who else in the government gets a security vote? Do you get security votes too? Do you know how much each governor gets as security vote each month? What are they doing with this money? What is the difficulty abolishing that practice?”

But Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will not. The whole echelon of the Nigerian government will not square up with the people because they have a lot to hide. Instead they prefer the short cut- induce the press to produce flattering stories about them.

And then, they wonder why the people do not trust them. In Okonjo-Iweala’s words, “There’s so much mistrust of government in our countries… in Nigeria there is a great deal of lack of trust. The social contract between the people and government is fragile.”

Madam, you fix the mistrust by adopting best practices – across the board. Not by throwing up your hands in the air while sitting tight where you are and saying, “I’ve done the best I can.” Meanwhile, there's one option you've overlooked, Madam- quitting.

And about that horse, if the horse is thirsty and still does not drink the water, check very well, the water is contaminated.

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7dP9P

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dWZAm

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XT7ai

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YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!!!

YOU GOT IT. THOSE WHO CAN AND WILL CHANGE NIGERIA, WILL NEVER BE GIVEN THE CHANCE,OUR MOTHERLAND IS A MESS, DUE TO THE GREED OF A PARASITIC ELITE. ANYBODY GOING TO CHANGE NIGERIA FROM ABROAD, NO WAY. NIGERIA WILL CHANGE THAT PERSON IN A MATTER OF TIME, THE SYSTEM IS RUN BY PEOPLE WITH A DEBASED AND WARPED MIND!!!!

Ngozi is a candidate for

Ngozi is a candidate for jail. She'll definitely go to jail!

Rudolf You No Go Kill Me With Laugh

Rudolf my broda keep the fire burning on the ass of these criminal called our leaders if madam Ngo babe don try her best and the people say her best is not felt let her quit abi na her papa get 9ja anyway ebi like say quitting no dey our leaders dictionary shame on them.

Her Best is Not Good Enough !!

Maybe her best in taking shortcuts, being part of our problem and not knowing how much Nigeria generates per day from oil, taxes, et al.

Your response demonstrates

Your response demonstrates the problem with Nigeria; We are in such a hurry to move forward that we forget the mistakes of the past and keep repeating them over and over again. Ever wondered why we keep on suffering the same symptoms in different parts of the country (OPC, MOSOP,MEND, BH, MOSSOB -just to give an example). It is because we never bothered to look how we have inaccurately continued to diagnose and provide remedies to our problems in the past and as result continue to wobble & fumble in the present as these same problem metamorphose, mutate & duplicate itself in the present. What is wrong with his referral to an event in February (I bet you did not know about that speech; I didn’t)? It is his job to bring these to our consciousness and remind us of our folly as a country…………………………..

Rudolf Want to Be Minister

Rudolf is trying to grab attention. Watch it! Soon, he would cross over to the other side. He's just out to grab attention.

Rudolf thanks for your

Rudolf thanks for your observation.I think the world knows that Nigeria is an animal kingdom,where the fools are ruling the wise.Take for example the Niger/Delta,they are agitating for better life,instead for the government to make right what is wrong,which is obvious but they derive joy neglecting these people and made it a duty to pay a selected few millions of naira.Why cant they simply give the areas affected good roads,build school,hospitals and whatever they want and let peace reign.This is a country where thugs(militants) are paid lump sum as salary and graduates are left to rotten and the government still want us to pledge our loyalty to the nation?Our government officials do travel abroad,they see how things are done,for example.,electricity and so on.To get anything done in any ministry,you have to grease palms of whoever is in charge.

Vagabond in Power

Ruddy Boy I feel you.

Okonjo Iweala made the best case for voting out PDP

Okonjo Iweala admitted in her question and answer session that PDP has no crebility.

"There is so much mistrust of Government in our countries, on the continent. But in Nigeria, there is a great deal of lack of trust. The social contract between the people and the governmnet is fragile isn't it. Because of that anyone can stand up and say anything.Even when you are putting out the accurate information, they do not want to believe" - Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (2013)

Credibility is everything. A Government without credibility is a very dangerous government.It even poses a risk to the life and welfare of its people. It is also bad for business.

PDP has destroyed their "social contract" with Nigerians. It is time for Nigerians to send them packing.

Nigerian flies dont quit!

You have my commendation for a very good piece as usual. Any discerning Nigerian and even foreigner will know by now that Okonjo-Iweala has lost the plot. But like typical Nigerian leaders, rather than quit, she is sitting pretty while the economy that she is supposed to be coordinating is falling apart all around her. She will rather use some stupid numbers to cover the fact that she and Jonathan have lost control to free-for-all looting. You know why she is not quitting? Free house, free cars, security vote, free everything - we are not even talking of the deals on the side. What Okonjo-Iweala's second coming has shown is that the Nigerian cesspool will intoxicate and overwhelm anybody - no matter the number of PhDs and international accolades. At that point the respectable thing to do is quit. Unfortunately, the lucre is too sweet to quit!

Beautiful piece..very strait

Beautiful piece..very strait forward..easy to read and understand..u have communicated mr rudolf..

No Nigerian government official has integrity!

Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala can continue to delude herself that she is not part of Nigeria's problems, one of those who have refused to speak TRUTH to power. She is and cannot square up to Adadioranma Oby Ezekwesili in matters of honesty, truthfulness and integrity. Those of us who know them intimately can attest to the differences in their character and personality.

Ebele wooed Oby to serve in his government the same manner he wooed Ngozi. Oby smartly and rightly declined having learnt her lessons while serving in Aremu's government. Ngozi out of greed and easy lucre readily accepted. The fact is that there is no SINGLE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, whether with the states or federal, that has INTEGRITY. If you know their antics you will reach the same conclusion.

Rudolf nwa Nnobi, thank you for these insights!

Rudolf, I love you!

The truth is that there is one simple solution to any problem; adopt the best practice.-Rudolf Okonkwo

I think the above quote is the best advise anyone has ever given this funny collection of people stealing our commonwealth and pretending they are governing. But push will soon come to shove and we will know who will be left standing when the dust clears. Thanks Rudolf, may your wise pen never run dry!

Nigerians need to start popping the bubble of public officers

Nigerians cannot keep "suffering and smilling" - Fela.

Nigerians have been standing and clapping for their so called public officials for too long. These are the same people that have stolen Nigeria blind. They want Nigerians to pretend that they are stupid. $67 billion or $20 billion. What difference does it make.

Most people live in their own bubble. No wonder you see activists throwing eggs, pies, tomatoes and even shoes at people like George Bush (42)and other leaders e.t.c.

Naija activists have to graduate to Phase II.Phase I is writing beautiful essays and protesting. Phase II should be some form of civil disobedience. For example, throwing shoes, eggs and tomatoes at our oppressors and those that represent them. This is the only way to wake them up from their stupor.

Sowore has lead by example - www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKW319SOzO4

Stalemate Returns

Thanks Rudolf..
And also, Transcripts for the electorate -

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/06/press-briefing-pre...

Right on target, Rudolf

I would have suggested you publish this every week until the deaf hears and the blind sees!
Why should we not know how much each state receives from the federation account every month, how much is spent and on what, what amounts to security vote for each governor, and the president? I've suggested this in the past. Let there be rotational state auditing by professional bodies like ICAN each quarter. Let the reports be published in major newspapers. Remove immunity for public officers. It is a cover up and an open market for official misbehavior. If your hands are clean while in office but you're maliciously sued by opponents, we would support you in your defense. Why should any one be afraid of law suits if they are clean?

unlike u

i will never clap for u . but i will hug u for dis one. aha! what a powerful clue to gej to get closer to d pple and clean dos yama yama dirty paint dos good for noting, jobless politician don paint em,just to deceive masses. wt dis clue!dir job don knock be dat o! my wahala be say enof parrots dey aso rock now and dey can never allow gej to practice obama style. okupe and abati shd take back sit from now on.gej get sweet tongue pass dem. as for ngozi she is very stingy and a saver too.

So releasing information/

So releasing information/ data isnt communication?i T is laziness that will make someone not utilize the information made available with actual figures and where it went. Nigerians are just a joke. So she should give you figures and break your skull too to put it in. How have you Rudolf utilized the information that has been given before requesting for press conferences from every minister?

Why Tell her to Quit

I wonder why you're asking the Minister to quit. Why? Why? Why? She need not resign. If everyone that is sincere is running away from the system, what becomes of us? Quiting should not be an option. she needs to fight it out and ensure that things are done in a proper way.

Rudolph you speak from both

Rudolph you speak from both sides of your mouth. In one instance you say adopt best practice and in the next breath you say quit? What exactly is your contribution to society? If you can get on the Internet you surely should be able to look at the information put out by the minister and hold your state governments to account. But no. The minister is right. People like you are way too lazy, biased and compromised to pursue real change in the society. So by your reasoning each minister should hold press conferences so that you can ask them questions? That will then mean that no work is actually done. even the sample of questions you have asked is laughable. any body who is interested in detail does not get that from a press conference rather from documents that actually show the figures. get off your challenged intellect, hire someone to look up the numbers for you, do some actual review of the data put out and have something reasonable to write next time.

Short & Precise

Rudolf, I must say that I have grown to like your piece and look forward to them every week. You see the problem with Nigeria is that we are not “Process Driven” in this part of the world. Everything is done according to who the Oga at the top is. We don’t ask the right questions. We don’t challenge the system. We personalize issues. Nobody is corrupt if his or she is our kinsman. If BH or MEND kill people and destroy property the elders & kinsmen from their respective regions play the ostrich. When the Army moves in to restore law and order they shout Human Right Abuses. Everything is politicized unnecessarily and hidden.
One a final note I have come to realized that doing the “right things” is difficult because it exposes you, if you are not well prepared, consistent & motivated to serve.

Overrated

I am sure people that knows will agree with me that Okonjo Iweala is overrated. It is true that she has PhD, and education is very good, but high education does not make you a problem solver. This is a skill we are yet to acquire in Nigeria. Okonjo is a file carrier and signer at world bank. Let her tell us what problems she has ever solved.
Where is her brother, Power minister, today? He has PhD too, but did he know how to solve our power problems? He resigned after lots of money had disappeared, and nothing to show for it. Again, this is because we are not problems solvers yet. Education we have, but application of education we lack. I am talking from experience as an engineer in US.

nice write-up

GOOD MY BROTHER,PLS CONTINUE TO HAMMER THEM NOTHING BUT THE TRUE.BECAUSE THEY ARE BEHAVING AS IF THEY ARE FOREIGNER,

You know what? I don't expect

You know what? I don't expect Okonjo to be honest with us in her daily deals. There is too much money to lose than to protect a bunch of low lifes who cannot fight for their rights. She said 99.5% of Nigerians are hardworking people, in other words they are as corrupt as herself which makes them hardworking people. Listen she ain't ready to lose her present status for anyone talk less of the down trodden. So don't for any reason believe she would spill the beans on any corrupt official or reveal any inconsistencies of her administration, Period!

THIS IS ARMCHAIR NONSENSE

So, she resigns, then what? Does this solve the challenges besetting Nigeria? The woman publishes financial allocation to all the tiers of govt. on a monthly basis, yet Nigerians do not not, on the basis of such information, hold their leaders accountable. They do not insist on deliverables. How is it that that such figures are toxic, as Rudolf is carelessly proposing in his protraction of the "taking the horse to the stream" analogy? The problem with Nigeria is that there are too many beer parlour and armchair all - knowing analysts who regularly spew poorly digested and ill - informed remedies to Nigeria's challenges. I hope they understand that the blood - in - the - street option to social change is an illwind that may well consume the govt. official along with the armchair theorist, if and when it comes.

Rudolf, you don't need a Port Harcourt Degree (PhD) to govern a

Rudolf, you don't need a Port Harcourt Degree (PhD) to govern a country. Do you ?

The best line I liked was the "Some readers often ask for criticism to be constructive. By extension, they demand that the right to point out problems comes with the responsibility to offer solutions. The truth is that there is one simple solution to any problem; adopt the best practice."

Simply put, criticism don't have to be constructive, let Dumbo ignore the destructive critics and get on with the bloody job !
I hope GEJ's online thugs who threaten to maim his critics are reading and digesting this.

You're Right and Corroborated!

Right on point! The point is that majority of those in government are a bunch of indolent people. They just refuse to work believing it is an avenue for 'chop chop'.

You find out that they only rabble about events only after citizens have put forth data of series of mind blowing and gross mismanagement of public funds and office.

They refer to criticisms as the handiwork of opposition politicians who are hell bent on bringing down their administration.

This masterpiece by the relentless Okonkwo is a guide to those who preach transformational leadership and indeed governance at all levels.

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