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Awaiting A Miracle …The Fairy Dream of a New World

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Anytime today or late Wednesday, the world shall behold or reject a new President of the World Bank by name Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala or Prof Yong Kim. The former is Nigeria’s Finance Minister and coordinating minister of the economy while the latter is a renowned health expert and nominee of the United States of America (USA)

Considering the measure of passion injected into the lobby for the position, especially among the emerging economies, it would be a major disappointment should the vote by the bank’s  board go the way of Yong Kim, a Korean-American, whose credentials on development economy, finance and banking are weightless against what Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala parades.

By Friday, the  race had become one between just two, on account of  the withdrawal of the Brazilian nominee, Dr Jose Antonio Ocampo, over lack of support from his home country, Colombia, which seems more interested in the presidency of the International Labour Organization (ILO), than the World Bank.

However, before throwing-in the towel, Ocampo rallied support for the virtues of merit, integrity, fairness, leadership and indeed competence which he said characterized the candidacy of Nigeria’s Finance Minister, and indeed, expectation of the emerging economies of the world.

A Director of Economic and Political Development at the Columbia University in New York, Ocampo  had expressed doubts over the neutrality of the selection process, and  expressed fears over its eventual outcome. “We did not believe the selection process had been conducted in a fully open, transparent and merit-based fashion, but it had established a strong precedent”.

On this column, April 2, 2012, titled World Bank Presidency: The Odds Against Okonjo-Iweala, My Agony had raised the alarm that International politics, America’s greed and indeed precedent, rather than merit, competence, integrity and indeed leadership will determine the choice of a world Bank President.

Our view: “If the choice of President of the World Bank were to be based purely on the integrity, experience,  expertise, merit and popularity of contending players, without an iota of doubt, Nigeria’s coordinating minister of the economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should succeed Mr. Robert Zoellick whose tenure expires June, 2012. But the world today is used to doing without the best and there are yet no positive signs that the choice of a world bank President will be any different”.

In fulfillment of this view and in spite of the impressive credentials of Okonjo-Iweala, the massive support her candidacy enjoys among the emerging economies and indeed the withdrawal of one of the contestants, Ocampo in support of  Nigeria’s Finance Minister, it thus, appears that the  choice of Yong Kim has been pre-determined.

For instance, while, all African directors of the bank voiced support for Okonjo-Iweala during last Friday’s straw polling, the US, Canada, Japan and all European Union countries were seen to be backing the American nominee against popular expectations that the selection process will be open and transparent and the outcome of the interviews be made public.

The last straw that broke the Camel’s back and which now leaves Nigeria’s hope for a World Bank Presidency hinging only on a miracle, came with the defection of Russia from Okonjo-Iweala’s support base. With Russia going the way of the US, the gains derivable from the exit of Ocampo appear minimal.

In fact, as it stands, the battle is now drawn between support for the US, Europe and Russia as against Africa and a divided group of emerging economies like China, Brazil, which nominated Ocampo in the first instance and indeed India.

This scenario is predictable, even understandable, for the same reasons this column advanced on April 2nd, this year, as earlier predicted.

“When on April 20, 2012, the 187-member nations’ board will sit to determine, by consensus, a choice for president of the world Bank, more than the amiable credentials of the Nigerian candidate and the two others will be in consideration”.(My Agony)

Strangely, the vote needs not wait till then as there are indications that the choice could have been made already and merely waiting to be made public either today or as the New York Times has speculated as early as Wednesday. This means the US is close to a consensus if not so, already.

It was for fear of this  in the first instance, that My Agony predicted; “the biggest hurdle shall be the seeming oath taken by Europe and the United States since the inception of the bank after World War II,… That understanding allows Europe headship of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) while, the US has kept the World Bank ever since”.

Worse still, US Secretary of Treasury, Tim Geither virtually fore-closed likelihood of his country bending to global pressure needed to give Okonjo-Iweala a go at the World Bank Presidency, when, he was quoted as saying, a fortnight ago, “the US has no problem with either Okonjo-Iweala or Ocampo, but should the presidency of the World Bank be allowed to go to a non-American, it will be difficult to get the US congress to pay US commitments to the bank.” And the US is the major shareholder of the World Bank upon which the survival of the bank and its development projects depend.

Bottomline: It would be absurd, even unthinkable for emerging economies to depend on funds from the World Bank for their development and at the same time, insist on managing such funds. At normal times, this is a possibility but not in an election year, when, the Republican fray is still fishing for more reasons bordering on outsourcing of American honour, to slam US President Barack Obama.

As it is today, the failure of the US nominee, Yong Kim  has been made to appear to be failure of not just President Obama or his Democratic Party but indeed the United States of America. This is the blackmail instrument which will render difficult any attempt to do right, from global perspectives and commit political suicide before American voters.

More importantly, “if the bank’s succession history since 1944 is anything to go by, then it will require more than a miracle for the US to bend or for Europe to betray its major ally in the US, for, wait developing nations.” This, as we canvassed earlier, “is most unlikely, given the imperatives.

This column then suggested:

‘The only solution, methinks, is to shift the conversation to the US political scene and make it an issue, at least to feel the pulse of American voters, whether Republicans or Democrats. Now, all that is late.

However, no matter how unpleasant, the eventual outcome might be come Wednesday, or even later today, Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala  is both a winner and history maker if for nothing else, for going this far in pricking global conscience in pursuit of merit and against the double standards of world powers not doing what they often preach.

Happily, Okonjo-Iweala alluded to that while thanking Ocampo for his support when she said, “I am proud that Dr Ocampo and I have helped make history by changing the way that World Bank Presidential elections are contested”. Unfortunately, that was in hope that the board would vote, in a transparent manner, the right choice on April 20, this year, not knowing that a decision might have been reached and merely awaiting official announcement today or Wednesday.

My Agony is that the scenario now leaves Okonjo-Iweala with only a tiny hope of a miracle. A miracle which will see the US and her powerful European allies and even Russia, make U-turn to support one from the emerging economies like Africa’s lone candidate. This, no matter Okonjo-Iweala’s amazing credentials, seems unlikely, today.

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

Okonjo-Iweala

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Insecurity In Nigeria, Alarming, Wike Alerts …Suspends JAAC Accounts From Defaulting Banks

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion.
He has therefore called on security agencies to redouble their efforts in curbing it.
Governor Wike expressed the concern yesterday when the new General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Olu Irefin paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
He noted that the prevalence of insecurity in every State of the Federation seems to overwhelm the military.
Governor Wike stated that the situation is different in Rivers State because of the robust collaboration between his administration and the security agencies.
“Our determination is to keep the State safe but development also attracts criminality, so we can’t say we are totally free.
“There are still pockets of criminal elements. So, as a professional whose role is to defend the territorial integrity of the country, fight crime and do not involve in politics.
“We are willing to collaborate with you as a government because security is important for us. Just let us know what you require to succeed in the fight against criminality.
“That way, we will be partners in progress and make the State safe for all residents,” he stated.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General OluIrefin commended Governor Wike for his developmental strides.
He said on assumption of duties, his commanders told him that they have enjoyed tremendous support from the state government in the discharge of duties.
He pledged to sustain the existing collaboration in protecting lives and property in the State
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has directed the removal of Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) from banks that gave unauthorised loans to some Local Government Chairmen in the State.
Governor Wike gave the directive on Wednesday, while swearing in the substantive Chairman of the Asari-Toru Local Government Area at Government House, Port Harcourt .
He directed the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take legal action against the defaulting Banks.
Governor Wike said both the Banks and the Councils that defaulted would suffer the consequences of the illegality.
He noted that the Banks cannot seek refund of the loans because they contravened extant Laws of the State.
“We have taken a decision that for all those loans taken without approval, the affected accounts must leave the defaulting banks.
“I have told the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take necessary steps. The Banks cannot go and seek for refund from the Local Governments. When you default the Law, you suffer for it.
“Council Chairmen who want to take loans from banks must get official approval. You cannot take loans that will mortgage the future of the people”, he stated.
Governor Wike charged Mrs. AlasoJohnbull Obi to use her new position to make a difference because the people are yet to feel the impact of the Council.
“Go and put your local government together. Do not allow busy body politicians to distract you. Use this opportunity you have to make a difference.
“We never thought that Chief Odiari Princewill will die but as God will have it, he is dead and we have to abide by the constitution.
“That is why you, as the deputy, has to step in as the substantive chairman of Asari-Toru local Government Area today.
“In choosing your Deputy, you must consult widely with all the stakeholders of the Party. As election is coming up next year, you have an opportunity to sell yourself,” he added.
Until her swearing in, Mrs. AlasoJohnbul-Obi was the Vice Chairman of the Council but the death of the elected chairman, Chief Odiari Princewill on the 27th May, 2020 created a vacuum that needed to be filled.

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SSANU, NASU Threaten Strike Over Unresolved Issues

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The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) said they would proceed on strike over unresolved issues with the Federal Government immediately the universities reopen.
Mr Samson Ugwoke, the Chairman, Joint Action Committee (JAC) of both unions said this while addressing newsmen on the resolutions reached by the unions yesterday in Abuja.
The resolutions were signed by the SSANU National President, Mr Samson Ugwoke, and the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi.
The unions’ grievances included the lingering Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) debacle, nonpayment of arrears of earned allowance and minimum wage. Others are the alleged lack of seriousness by the Babalakin Committee renegotiating the 2009 FG/NASU, SSANU agreements, neglect and poor funding of state universities, absence of visitation panels, among others.
According to Ugwoke, long after many other sectors had been paid the arrears of the national minimum wage and consequential adjustment, university workers are yet to be paid. “We find this development totally unwholesome and very unhealthy.
“Given the time lag of over a year since it was implemented in other sectors, members of the public would agree that we have been patient enough in the university system,” he said.
He pointed out that in spite of the series of letters by the unions to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) Office since February, their members were still confronted with many challenges, including salary payment. Ugwuoke also said that their members, whose monthly salaries were being paid in the second week of the following month in the past seven months, were suffering as a result of the difficulties posed by IPPIS.
He argued that as responsible unions, they had avoided the planned action, adding that the unhealthy situation had made it inevitable.
Ugwoke said: “We have again cried out to the general public with a view to inviting stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to correct the anomaly of IPPIS. “Pay us the arrears of both earned allowances and minimum wage, among others.”
He warned that the unions would have no option than to embark on strike effective from when universities would reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.

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FG’S Reviewed Broadcast Code, Draconian – PDP …Says New Code Aimed At Muzzling Media, Concealing Corruption, Abacha Loot

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The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has rejected the reviewed broadcast code, describing it as another draconian measure to muzzle the media and suppress free speech in Nigeria.
The party said the All Progressives Congress, APC and its government adopted the reviewed code with its N5 million fine “to intimidate the media and gag whistle blowers from further exposing the humongous corruption, abuse of office, violation of human rights as well as officials’ betrayal of trust and abuse of office in the Buhari administration.”
In a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said the reviewed code is a grand plot “to suppress and muzzle Nigerians and the media from publicly opposing plots by the APC to mortgage the sovereignty of our dear nation to foreign interests as being witnessed in the anti-Nigeria clauses in the loan agreements with China.”
The statement read: “The APC has been jittery over the stench of monumental corruption oozing out from its government as well as its anti-Nigeria activities, and now seeks to suppress public opinion and media reportage of their atrocities against our nation.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that the APC administration rushed to review the broadcast codes and introduced draconian clauses at the height of public revelations and media reportage of its corruption and plots to mortgage our nation’s sovereignty to China. The reviewed broadcast code therefore validates the stance by Nigerians that covering of corruption and the scheme to mortgage the sovereignty of our nation are official policies of the APC which has not denied that it is the headquarters of corruption.
“Our party however, wishes to inform the APC and its administration that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and other laws guiding media practice, which guarantees a free press and freedom of opinion by Nigerians are clear and that no matter how much the truth is suppressed, it must always come to light.
“Moreover, the APC must know that we are in a democracy and that Nigerians cannot be suppressed from exercising their rights of speaking out in the face of injustice, corruption, abuse of trust in the APC administration, which President Buhari had also admitted.

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