There’s always that one individual who stands out in a crowd regardless of how thick the throng, how vast the guts, and how long the necks; that person is always distinguished by either speech or service, action or appearance. That person in today’s Nigeria – judging from the most recent developments – is none other than Madam Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. With her recent appointment in the South African government, Okonjo-Iweala has broken records existing and extant.
The first step towards any problem is the proper identification of the issue. This is what happened in South Africa when the government acknowledged that the economy was not altogether functioning as it ought to. The recession had crawled into the economy stealthily and unbidden. The second step is not to hit at that problem until it goes away. Here again, President Cyril Ramaphosa demonstrated deep wisdom by including Madam Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian, in the country’s Economic Advisory Council.
This is no doubt the most remarkable development in the up-and-ups of Nigerian society and pride. Here was a woman renowned for her biting intellectual prowess, a lioness of economic insights and depth, and she was lying seemingly dormant for years. And then the call came. It is especially interesting that Madam Okonjo-Iweala has never made it a point of call to draw attention to her hall of accomplishments – she needn’t, it appears; her power speaks for itself.
This appointment is a challenge to anyone purposing to make a significant dent on the country, continent, and global scene, as pointed out by Peter Obi, Vice-Presidential candidate of PDP. That her expertise straddles such fields of endeavour as international economics, macroeconomics, labour economics, and the economics of education and that of poverty and inequality and urban development is something to marvel at.
Okonjo-Iweala has proved her mettle. It little matters that her headdresses are worn in a style never before seen, she has earned the honour and respect of every Nigerian, home or in the diaspora. A model to the young and pride itself to the old, Okonjo-Iweala will doubtless rattle the economy of South Africa, and then polish it with the same ease with which she was Nigerian Minister of Finance. Two times.