Opinion: Okonjo-Iweala: How to Be a Friend of the Poor

By Bade ADEBOLU
The things that really matter in life are surprisingly the seemingly simple things. Small things like patting someone on the back in the event of some achievement or simply saying “Thank you” after a meal to the person who offers one such delicacy, really go a long way. In some cases, one might not even be aware of the countless lives one has saved as a result of a small smile directed at someone in deep pain in the hospital ward or a depressed soul in a refugee camp. Life can be this simple, but unfortunately, we often make it unnecessarily complicated!

On June 13, 2016, the immediate past minister of finance, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala turned 62. One of the pictures of the events marking her birthday celebration was the one showing her husband and Senator Ben Murray-Bruce “kissing” her during an indoor party. Apart from the media attention that went with the “formal” aspect of the occasion (by which I mean, the “dining and wining”), the media (especially the mainstream or traditional media), as usual missed a big part of the event!
Many remember her celebrating her birthday, but few recall she visited Karonmagaji Village School, a remote public school in Abuja, as part of her birthday celebration. Many do not remember this because this is one part of her that the mafias in the media do not want the public to know. The picture of her with the staff and students of the school suddenly went “missing” or did not interest the “big boys” in the media.
This, as some of us recall, will not be the first time Madam Okonjo-Iweala will engage in such humanitarian acts. At a time when even the so-called #BringBackOurGirls campaigners could not visit Chibok where over 200 girls were allegedly kidnapped, she not only visited the town, she laid the foundation for the rebuilding of the Government Secondary School, which was destroyed by the Boko Haram sect. How better can one love the poor?
I once received a call from one of my readers who wanted to know why I write so passionately about the former minister after having read one of my articles. I told the young man, in frank terms, that I have never met the former minister all my life in person, neither have I spoken to her electronically or via the social media. This man simply would not believe me, but I swore to it. I told him that I love my job as an accountant (a profession that places much emphasis on integrity) and I have very little to do with politicians since I am never one of their biggest fans. Whether this man believes what I told him is another matter altogether!
For this guy, whose name I cannot remember now, and people like him that may think I am one of those “paid to write”, I wish to disappoint them here. Like I said earlier, I have never met the former minister before. But one thing I can say is that I have benefited from the YouWIN programme which she initiated. If this is not enough for me to defend her, then I know not how else I will.
That is just on a lighter note. But, seriously, I think we need to have more people like Ngozi who can be of help to the poor, like she has always done. We need our politicians to emulate her virtues of stepping down from their big mansions once in a while to associate with the poor.
Bade ADEBOLU is an accountant who lives and works in Ado-Ekiti. He sends this piece via badeadebolu@gmail.com

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