Vexed by the frivolous allegations in some quarters that the current Nigerian Coordinating minister of the Economy and the Minister of Finance Dr. [Mrs.] Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has favoured persons of her Igbo ethnic nationality with Federal appointments in agencies under her ministry, a human rights coalition- GOOD GOVERNANCE AND TRANSPARENCY COALITION [GGTC] has debunked the allegations as ‘phantom’, ‘puerile’ and as a huge fallacy which should be disregarded by Nigerians since according to them the current minister of Finance is a reputable global academic and financial expert who attained one of the highest international professional status when she served for several years as the Managing Director of the World Bank, a position not given to ethnic champions.
The coalition which is affiliate of the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria [HURIWA] and the Association of African Writers’ on Human and Peoples’ Rights [AFRIRIGHTS] made the clarifications in a media release endorsed on behalf of it by the Chief of Operations Mr. Muhammadu Umar Farouk; Director of Legal Affairs, Miss. Sylvia Nneka Okonkwo and the Director of Press Miss. Janet Akinlami titled “HOW CAN OKONJO-IWEALA APPOINT IGBOS WHO WERE ALREADY APPOINTED BEFORE SHE RETURNED AS MINISTER?
Excerpts from the press release dated April 18th 2013 are as follows; “For several weeks now, there has been an orchestrated media campaign against the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala by groups and individuals who claim that they are fighting for their ethnic groups but who are actually fighting for their own very selfish interest”.
“The main part of the campaign is the claim that the minister is pursuing an Igbo agenda because she has appointed many Igbos as heads of agencies under her ministry. To support this false thesis, they cite as examples the following South Easterners in such positions:
· Mustapha Chike-Obi: DG, AMCON
· Arunma Oteh: DG, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
· Abraham Nwankwo: DG, Debt Management Office
· Osita Onyema, DG: Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)”.
GOOD GOVERNANCE AND TRANSPARENCY COALITION [GGTC] also stated thus; “What is curious about the false charges is that all these persons and others who have also been cited were already in office by the time Okonjo-Iweala returned as Minister in September 2011! In fact one of them had been in office for almost five years before she came back. In other words she is being accused of appointing people who were appointed before her! This ridiculous accusation proves one thing: the people making such accusations against this hardworking nationalist are mischievous, ignorant or more likely both”.
Declaring the campaign as sinister and ugly, the groups further stated that; “As part of this ungodly campaign, these elements also cite the appointment of Uche Orji as MD of the Nigerian Investment Authority late last year as more evidence of their discredited Igbo agenda. But these claims, like the other one, crash like a pack of cards when it is subjected to scrutiny. It is nothing but a big fat lie! Mr. Orji was adjudged the best following an international recruitment exercise conducted by KPMG, a respected global consulting agency. A titan of the Nigerian private sector, Mr. Fola Adeola was Chair of the Nominations Committee which also had distinguished Nigerians from all the geo-political zones. To suggest that these distinguished personalities did not do their jobs or that they were unduly influenced is highly unfair and highly disrespectful. Those making these claims are doing a great disservice to their country with their campaign of lies and innuendoes”.
“Now the campaigners are widening their net of lies. They are now fishing everywhere to find names of Igbos that they will claim were influenced by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. They are ready to do anything, spend any amount to tarnish her reputation as a patriot. To them the truth does not matter as long as they achieve their evil objectives”.
“The question that we must ask is: why are these people so afraid of excellence? Why are they so much against giving a chance for brilliant and qualified young Nigerians from ALL parts of the country and the diaspora to contribute their quota to national development? Why do they want to draw Nigeria back?”
Dismissing the campaigners as unpatriotic and selfish, the Rights coalition said: “It is very clear that they are working for themselves not for Nigeria. Nigerians want the best for their country. They are clearly working against the interests of this country. But they will not be different from the many others who tried but failed to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians”.
“The good news is that Nigerians can see through their cheap antics. They know what Okonjo-Iweala stands for. They know that she is working for the good of Nigeria as a whole. They know she has the courage of her convictions. They know she loves Nigeria. That is why these conscienceless people will fail so that Nigeria can rise.”
Those masterminding the calumny of lies to tarnish the minister are the country’s greatest draw back who are largely benefitting from the economic woes plaguing Nigeria.