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Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: A Potential Well Maximised

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If at 66, when her mates are retiring from active service, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala has just secured another Heculean job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), then  Ralph Waldo Emerson did not mince words, when he said that “what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us”.
Her appointment at this point in life as the new chief of the World Trade Organisation, becoming not only  the first woman to ever lead the Switzerland-based institution but the first African citizen to take on the role is an attestation to the fact that she posseses potentials yearning to be tapped irrespective of age.
For a woman in a patriarchal and misogynistic country like Nigeria to  hold her own and perform creditably, contrary to what detractors thought, it is indeed a feat to be proud of.
According to Christopher Robin, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence as the first woman and the first African to occupy this keenly contested position, is a clear attestation that the academic doctor is not only braver than she  believes, she is as well stronger than she  seems, and smarter than she thinks.
The world can now measure her, based on her attitude during those challenging and controversial moments as she stood her ground with what she believed in, even when times were tough and the situation appeared hopeless.
Her journey to the exalted WTO managerial seat, in spite of all odds, revealed so much resilience in her, which further convinced her fans, she is actually on a mission to deliver if given the opportunity.
Her refusal to retreat or surrender even at her rejection by the world power, the  United States of America, in former President Trump’s regime, reminded me of the famous saying that only “ the tough get going when the going gets tough”.
According to Dale Carnegie, a famous writer, most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.The determination and ability within the person of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is the reason behind her victory today.
Sometimes we just need someone to tell us that we already have the courage and ability we need to get through a difficult situation. Having survived the murky waters of politics in Nigeria, and rising to number two at the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, no doubt should have gotten the requisite experience to deal with, and address issues of the world trade body.
Suffice it to say that the world couldn’t have settled better for  any other, than the Harvard-educated development economist, who though appears  down-to-earth,  is a hard worker.
She  had realised afore now that what the WTO needed was a shake-up. She said, “they need something different, it cannot be business as usual for the WTO – they need someone willing to do the reforms and lead.”
It is hoped that her  vision would be of a rejuvenated and strengthened WTO that will be confident to tackle effectively ongoing issues.
For the women folk, does her agenda at the WTO capture their essence? She said: “It should also be responsive to the challenge of facilitating the greater participation of women in international trade, particularly in developing countries, where greater efforts should be made to include women- owned enterprises in the formal sector.”
She is also likely to support female participation in global trade, having said that “greater efforts should be made to include women-owned enterprises in the formal sector.”
It would be recalled that during her 25 years at the World Bank, she was  credited with spearheading several initiatives to assist low-income countries in particular,  raising nearly $50 billion in 2010 from donors for the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries.
Besides, her economic reforms in Nigeria are legacies any one can refer to any day. It is on record that following years of economic stagnation, Nigeria embarked on a comprehensive reform programme under her watch. The programme was based on the National Economic Empowerment Macro-Economic Environment, pursuing structural reforms, strengthening public expenditure management, and implementing institutional and governance reforms.
One of her greatest achievements was leading a team which negotiated a whopping $18 billion debt write-off in 2005 for the country, helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign debt rating. The country’s debts had dated back to the early 1980s, and had ballooned to more than $35 billion due to penalties and late fees during the 1990s.
Her economic reforms had a far-reaching impact and saved Nigeria at a critical period, according to prominent Nigerian economist, Bismarck Rewane.
This included de-linking the budget from the oil price, allowing the country to save money in a special account when oil prices were high. “It was this buffer that ensured Nigeria’s economy survived between 2008 and 2009,”
In fact, there is no gainsaying the fact that her emergence is a potential well maximised.

 

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Women

Challenge Biases Against Women, Banigo Urges

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The Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, says it has become necessary for women to take the lead to challenge the biases that put women in disadvantaged position in the society.
Banigo made this call in a statement in Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, to felicitate with women, ahead of the commemoration of the 2021 International Women’s Day, today.
The deputy governor said women must strive for excellence in all spheres of life they find themselves in order to change the disadvantaged position often bestowed on them through stereotypes caused by cultural beliefs and practices in a male-dominated world.
She said the theme for this year’s celebration, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”, underscores the significant roles played by the female folk to develop our society.
Banigo applauded the State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike for his very gender-friendly disposition which has given Rivers women a sense of belonging.
“Our amiable governor deliberately opened up the political space for women to take up leadership positions; it is on record that Rivers State is the first state in Nigeria where all the local government vice chairmen are women. He has appointed two female Chief Judges back-to-back and the President of the Customary Court of Appeal is also a woman, and there are female commissioners, permanent secretaries and Heads of Government Parastatals, Departments and Agencies, this is in consonance with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration”, Banigo further stressed.
Banigo, who said there was no substitute for hard work, urged women not to see their gender as a barrier but source of inherent strength to fulfil their God-given destinies, and wished the women folk a happy International Women’s Day celebration.
It would be recalled that the 8th of March each year is set aside to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

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Women Less Likely To Die From Covid-19 Than Men, WHO Affirms

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The global health agency says in most countries, women are somewhat less likely to die from Covid-19 than men.
Women account for a slightly smaller proportion of Covid-19 infections and deaths compared with men, a preliminary analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 28 African countries shows.
The WHO Regional Office for Africa said this in a statement issued from its headquarters in Brazzaville, Congo, yesterday.
According to the statement, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, reported the findings of the analysis at a virtual press conference on Covid-19.
Moeti said the analysis was based on Covid-19 gender specific epidemiological data provided by countries.
“The data found that although women account for around 41 per cent of Covid-19 cases, this ranges from 31 per cent in Niger to over 57 per cent in South Africa.
“In most countries, women are somewhat less likely to die from Covid-19 than men.
“For instance, in Cote d’Ivoire the case fatality ratio stands at 0.4 per cent for women compared with 0.5 per cent in men.
“In the Democratic Republic of the Congo it is 2.2 per cent versus 2.7 per cent and 0.1 per cent versus 0.5 per cent in Seychelles.
“This comes despite women accounting for a large part of the health workforce which puts them at higher risk of infection,’’ she said.
According to the statement, in Africa more than 95,000 health workers have been infected with Covid-19.
It stated that in Seychelles, women accounted for 71 per cent of health worker infections, 64 per cent in Eswatini, 55 per cent in Cote d’Ivoire and 54 per cent in Senegal.
“Further analyses are required to determine the factors behind the disparity in infections between men and women. However, some studies have suggested that biological, behavioural or social factors could be responsible.

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Rivers NAWOJ Goes To Church

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Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State Chapter, last Sunday, February 28, organised a thanksgiving and re-dedication service to usher in the new executive.
The thanksgiving service which held in Living Faith Church, Agip-Ada George Port Harcourt, had in attendance, a large number of female media practitioners from across the media houses in the State.
Speaking at the occasion, the NAWOJ Chairman, Mrs Serekara Susan, said the event was organised to appreciate God for granting her an overwhelming victory in the recent Rivers NAWOJ election, and for successfully constituting a new executive to pilot the affairs of the body for the next three years.
She used the medium to thank her spiritual father, the resident pastor of the church, Pastor Victor Akinsete, for standing by her when it mattered most, and her colleagues who believed in her and gave her their support. She pledged not to disappoint them, while also soliciting their collective support in taking the association to a greater height.
Responding, Pastor Akinsete who was visibly elated at the presence of the female journalists in his church, applauded the association for adding colour and value to the day’s worship. He appreciated her for remembering to come and return praise and thanks to the almighty, who did it all.
The pastor who took his sermon from the book of Hebrew Chapter 11:3, urged journalists to live a life of faith, stating that it takes a life of faith to see prophecies fulfilled.

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