A year after leaving public service as Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala remains the most sought after personality that served under the immediate past administration led by former President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Since she left office, a week doesn’t go by without her name being splattered on the pages of traditional newspapers as well as on online media outfits. Many detractors and paid hands have gone the length and breadth to link her with almost every corrupt deal that happened during her time as Coordinating Minister of the Economy.
Despite the campaign of calumny, she continues to soar high and gain more recognition in the international scene, as she maintains her anti-corruption stance. On June 2, 2016 she gave the keynote address at the MIT Doctoral Hooding Ceremony 2016 Commencement, becoming only the second speaker to achieve this feat thereby sealing her status as a global citizen. She took it a step further on June 7, 2016 as she addressed graduands of the Columbia University’s School of Public Policy, SIPA; the world’s most global public policy school at their Commencement.
It begs to question that if Dr Iweala was indeed corrupt as her detractors would want us to believe she would not have the temerity to continuously kick against corruption during her speeches, and such invitations would not have even been offered to her because the international community has close to zero tolerance for corruption as they would not want to associate with individuals who are ‘perceived’ to be corrupt.
Just recently her detractors tried to portray her as corrupt. From SERAP’s misguided N30 Trillion attack using a baseless allegation by a former Central Bank Governor, Professor Charles Soludo to the call made by the Civil Society Network Against Corruption accusing her of colluding with a former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) in what it termed the ‘judgment scam’.
But Dr Iweala remains unflustered as she continues has stuck to her anticorruption stance in and out of office.
Speaking at the Africa CEO forum on March 21, 2016 she stated categorically that those involved in corrupt practices should be made to pay for their actions, and that technology should also be employed in stemming the tide.
“We have to fight corruption in two ways; one is by punishing those who steal, and making sure they pay for what they do.
“But we also must plug all the holes by building institutions and systems that prevent corruption in the first place.
“If you have a financial system for running your financial accounts that is not computerised, that is not technologically based, you are still transferring cash, as we were doing in my country up until 2003, 2004, then you are opening up the place to a lot of leakages,” she said.
It is this same Dr Iweala who advised Dr Goodluck Jonathan to bring an end to the fraudulent subsidy regime, a decision that led to the kidnap of her aged mother by the corrupt cabal.
It is high time her enemies and detractors come to term that Dr Iweala is a global superstar, and all attempts to pull her down will continue to hit a brick wall.
Femi Hassan is a social commentator and resides in Lagos.