Published:20 Jan, 2012


Columnist: Pius Adesanmi
Somehow, in the heat of Occupy Nigeria last week, somebody must have convinced Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy (a clever way of calling her Prime Minister and maintaining deniability), Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, to embark on a well-oiled, behind-the-scene, reach-out campaign to carefully selected Nigerian Professors at home and abroad. Mission: persuade them to become paracletes of the IMF philosophy that she and her fellow hijackers of the Jonathan regime – Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Diezani Allison Madueke – have foisted on Nigerians in the form of oil subsidy removal. Modus operandi: add the selected Professors to her linked-in profile, send them materials favorable to her case, and appeal to them to spread the word.

And some of them did begin to spread the word. I knew something was amiss when the same message from Mrs Iweala began to trickle into my gmail account from listservs and, in certain instances, directly from colleagues, with the rider that they’d been asked to share the minister’s message. I decided to ignore all the pro-government trickle until a message came from Professor Mojubaolu Okome asking colleagues in a diaspora and transnational scholarship listserv she moderates to critique Mrs. Iweala’s message to her. Confession: the appearance of a senior colleague I fondly call “aunty mi” in the flow of discourse between the Mrs Iweala and her target Nigerian professors foreclosed the possibility of further indifference to the Minister’s curious strategy for me. A respected Professor of Political Science, African Studies, and Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, aunty Mojubaolu’s scholarship and praxis come from the best traditions of commitment and social responsibility. This is one scholar you are not going to ask to just “pass on the word”!

Once I saw her name, I surmised that Mrs. Iweala and her team had made a tactical blunder by contacting this Professor in the hope that she would just be a simple vector of their message. I knew they were in for serious intellectual grilling and critique. I was right. Professor Okome took on the Minister. They exchanged civil but robust emails. I read from the ringside, admiring how beautifully Professor Okome was making the case of the Nigerian people, backed by her characteristic intellectual rigor. Every time I felt like jumping in, I would conclude that there was no way I could state our case as beautifully as aunty Mojubaolu was doing.

Then came the spoiler! I woke up on Wednesday to a new round of exchanges between aunty Mojubaolu and the Minister. Perhaps frustrated that she was not making any headway in selling her argument, Mrs Iweala wrote another civil email but ruined it for me by referring Professor Okome to the offensive and now infamous pro-government subsidy article published by the meddlesome Paul Collier! Reading Mrs Okonjo Iweala’s email, I nearly smashed my computer screen in anger! Here is a Nigerian female Minister discussing Nigerian matters of life and death with a Nigerian female Professor and who, unable to provide superior arguments to back up her pro-subsidy removal position, sends the Nigerian Professor to a rude and condescending British Professor for validation! Why would Mrs Okonjo Iweala believe that Professor Paul Collier is better positioned to advise her about Nigeria and Nigerians than Professor Mojubaolu Okome? Why should she have given that Englishman a say in an otherwise engaging and mutually respectful exchange between two Nigerian female intellectuals? Unable to contain my frustration, I jumped into the conversation with this email to Dr Okonjo Iweala:

Dear Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala:

Greetings and thanks for taking the time to read and react to my comments. I will be brief, mindful of your commitments at this particularly difficult moment in the life of our country. I’ve been following your interesting email exchanges with my sister and senior colleague, Professor Mojubaolu Okome, and have been more persuaded by her submissions than yours. You asked her to share your views in her intellectual circuit and she’s been kind enough to oblige. I wasn’t going to intervene because Aunty Okome has been saying all the things I would have loved to say to you but I woke up this morning to another round of exchanges and your submissions did not help my mood. Honourable Minister, to make your case, to press the argument of your government, you refer a respected Nigerian Professor like Mojubaolu Okome to Paul Collier’s article. Ma, this is an article in which this British meddler insults the Nigerian people. As far as he is concerned, we are foolish and ignorant tea-partyers. Our legitimate and historic movement, Occupy Nigeria, he dismisses in terms that are too painful to be rehashed here. Your wholesale endorsement of Paul Collier’s condescending article raises a lot of questions. Mindful of your time, I’ll ask just two:

1) Are you aware, Honorable Minister, of the outrage that the article in question has generated, especially in Nigeria’s online community? Are you aware of how Nigerians are reacting to yet another spectacular instance of rudeness and condescension by a Western meddler in our affairs? And if you are not aware of how Nigerians are reacting to the offensive article, isn’t that another evidence that Nigerian government officials are alienated from the Nigerian people?

2) Why does the government of Nigeria find it so easy to approve of these kinds of foreign interventions in our affairs, often even soliciting and funding such interventions, no matter how condescending, while dismissing the position of patriotic Nigerians? For instance, your government has embraced Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Collier. But this is the same government that dismissed Professor Chinua Achebe as ignorant and out of touch with Nigerian realities (Reuben Abati) when he commented on burning national issues in a statement rejecting the national honour he was awarded. If we are to take your government’s position to its logical conclusion, Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Collier are more knowledgeable, more competent to talk about Nigeria than Chinua Achebe? They are more in touch with Nigerian realities than Chinua Achebe?

I assume that you have no objection to my sharing these queries and your eventual response with my readers in the spirit of national conversation.
Best Regards,
Pius Adesanmi

I didn’t expect a response. It was more of a symbolic intervention on my part. Unknown to me, my intellectual co-warrior and long-term travel mate in the world of ideas, Professor Wale Adebanwi of the University of California at Davis, was also in on the conversation and had been equally irked by the Minister’s reference to and validation of Paul Collier’s offensive article. Like me, Wale is also one of Professor Mojubaolu’s troublesome “aburos”. Wale fired this email to the Minister:

Dear Dr. Okonjo-Iweala,


First, let me quickly commend your civility in the middle of very difficult circumstances.

I was not going to respond to your invitation for intervention because speaking to those in power in Nigeria, except in the “languages” of interrupting their pleasure, is often a waste of time.

However, given Prof. Okome’s intervention and my friend’s (Pius’s) excellent questions, I am compelled to add a thing or two.

We all have no doubt about either your competence or commitment, we clearly have problems with your paradigm and the competence and commitment of your political bosses.

Three brief questions given the limitations of this forum:

1. What other nation of the world would have such abundance of human and natural resources and regularly recruit the least competent into the topmost level of political leadership? This is a structural and historical question that escapes Sachs and Collier, as displayed in the condescension evident in their responses. The matter is beyond mere economic theories.

2. Haven’t we been here before? On that note, neither you nor President Jonathan can be wiser than Nigerians. As Achebe says, no matter how wise a (wo)man is s/he cannot be wiser that her/his clan; ‘no one wins judgement against his people’. If Nigerians have lived with these arguments in the past and have witnessed the continued and steady deterioration of their quality of life, what makes this different – especially coming from a president who is challenged on many fronts?

3. Please, provide a single social or political – even fiscal – evidence before the January 1 action that showed that this government truly understands the pain of Nigerians? Was it the scandalous self-provisioning for the Villa denizens that litter the 2012 budget or the sheer indulgence that is the life of federal legislators that would have convinced our people about a committed leadership? What is 25% pay cut for a pampered cult whose pay no one truly knows?

I am saying basically that you cannot throw neo-liberal solutions at fundamental structural – political and historical – questions that condition the tragedies that we have, and are, experiencing in Nigeria.

I have no doubt that as you found out under President Obasanjo, when they are done with using your credentials, they will move on to the next in their perpetual project of national humiliation.

You can start the change by telling the president the alternative to a genuine national dialogue on restructuring Nigeria is the collapse of the House.

I wish you well.

Wale Adebanwi,
UC Davis, CA.

Like me, Wale got no response. It was evident that our reactions, which came within minutes of each other, were going to drive the Minister away from that small forum. The important thing is that we made our point. Professor Mojubaolu Okome did us proud with her robust engagement of the Minister and I believe that Wale and I also made a good case for respect and dignity. I have decided to go public with this to send a clear message to those with Mrs Iweala’s inclination in the Nigerian government: you are welcome to believe that American and British experts and consultants are superior to Nigerian intellectuals; you are welcome to believe that they are more in touch with Nigeria than Chinua Achebe; you are welcome to fly them first class on the back of the Nigerian people to come and advise you in Abuja but, please, do not add insult to injury by referring us to their expertise!

N.B: Professor Okome collated more responses to the minister at her blog. Please see:

Pius Aladesanmi via saharareporters.com

  • LOU


  • fidele

    I luv this. Nigerians are really up to make us proud.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

“We’re Not Aregbesola’s Rubber Stamp” – Salaam, Osun Speaker

MR  Najeem Salaam is Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly. Salam, in this interview, he faults the insinuation in some quarters that the Osun Assembly is a mere rubber stamp of Governor Rauf Aregbesola. He also bares his mind on governance in the state among other issues. Excerpts: By Dapo Akinrefon How do you assess Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s fifth year in office The whole country is on vacation. Nobody will say he...

9 Professors Shortlisted For LASU Vice-Chancellor Contest

Nine out of 14 professors have been shortlisted to contest for the post ?of the Vice-Chancellor at the Lagos State University (LASU). A competent source, who pleaded anonymity at the University’s Registrars office, made the disclosure on Friday in Lagos. The source said that 14 professors had applied for the position within the six weeks of the advertisement. “Nine were shortlisted after several considerations of their qualifications and pre-requisites for absorption,’’ the source said.

Tanzanian Govt Officials Jailed For Lateness

Six government officials in Tanzania were jailed this week after turning up late for a meeting, reports said Friday, amid a government campaign to tighten standards and tackle corruption. “The officials spent six hours in custody following the order by the district commissioner,” the Uhuru newspaper reported Friday, in an editorial praising the move. “They showed up two hours earlier on the following day,” it added. The local government official in a suburb of...

ICPC Cautions VIOs Against Extortion, Bribery

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission has advised Vehicle Inspection Officers in Kaduna State to avoid extortion and other forms of corrupt practices. The ICPC North-West Zonal Commissioner, Mr. Olusegun Adigun, gave the advice on Thursday at a two-day workshop for VIOs in the state to enlighten them on the need for integrity and transparency. The workshop with the theme, “Combating Corruption in Vehicle Inspection System: The Role of ICPC”, was organised...

Nigerian Navy Arrest Boat With 400 Truckload Of Stolen Crude Oil

The Nigerian Navy in the Delta state has arrested a self propelled barge loaded with estimated 4000metric tonnes, equivalent of 400 truck load of suspected crude oil in what the Central Naval Command, CNC, described as “a big break in the fight against oil theft” in the Niger Delta. Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, CNC, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman who briefed the press Friday at the Nigeria Navy Ship, NNS Delta in Warri...

Queen Elizabeth Begins Commonwealth Summit With Climate Focus

Queen Elizabeth II opened the 2015 Commonwealth summit on Friday with a colourful ceremony attended by world leaders gathered for pressing talks on climate change. The Queen dressed in an aqua blue coat with pink flowers adorning her trademark hat, was serenaded by a harp as she arrived to a red-carpet welcome at a huge sandstone conference centre on the seafront in the Maltese capital Valletta. As the clock ticks to a UN...

Buhari Engages Queen Of England In A Chat (PHOTO)

President Muhammadu Buhari who is currently in Malta, participating in the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which began in the island nation Today, is pictured engaging the Queen of England in a conversation. The Commonwealth is made up of Britain, Nigeria and 51 other countries that work together to pursue common goals and promote development, democracy, peace, security and good governance.

‘Church Is For Love’, Gay Ugandans Send Message To Pope

It is a weekend of anticipation for Uganda's LGBTI community. For them, the doors of the church have long been closed. So when Pope Francis' long-awaited first visit to Africa as leader of the Catholic Church brings him to Kampala on Friday, they hope that he comes bearing a message of tolerance after years of persecution, violence and, at times, death. It is an issue that has divided the more conservative African church leaders,...

Police Clamp Down 15-man Syndicate Over Dollar Counterfeiting

Officers of the Nigeria Police Force that constitute the Lagos State Government crime combat team known as Rapid Response Squad (RRS) yesterday arrested five members of a 15-man syndicate which specialised in dollar counterfeiting and defrauding of members of the public. Our correspondent learnt that the suspects identified as, Ade Oladele (32), Friday Philip (33), Israel Ibeh (35), Oyewole Thompson (30) and Onyegbuchi Godwin (31) were arrested in Oko Baba Sule and Wilma Bridge around Olodi...

Weapons Used In Paris Attacks Bought From German Dealer- Report

Four assault rifles used in the deadly Paris attacks were allegedly purchased from a trafficker in Germany, newspaper Bild reported Friday. Quoting documents from the Stuttgart prosecutor’s office, the newspaper said two AK47s and two Zastava M70s were sold on November 7 by the arms dealer to a customer in Paris. “French investigators believe that the weapons were allegedly used in the attacks in Paris,” said Bild. The Stuttgart prosecutor was not immediately available...

Video: The Mavins – JantaManta ft. Don Jazzy, Tiwa Savage, Dr SID, D’Prince, Reekado Banks, Korede Bello, Di’Ja

The Sumpreme Mavin Dynasty presents the music video of JantaManta, a new magical single featuring Don Jazzy, Tiwa Savage, Dr.Sid, D’Prince, Di’Ja, Reekado Banks and Korede Bello. It is produced by Don Jazzy. The magic began 4 months ago when Don Jazzy previewed the early beginning of JantaManta on Instagram and Snapchat. After perfecting the beat, the 6 dynamic and award winning Mavin Record artistes proceeded to add their creative lyrics to bring the song to...

China To Invest $10 Billion In Cross River

The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, says arrangements have been concluded for Henan Province of China to commence construction of $10 Billion project in the state. He gave the hint about the project agreement while addressing reporters at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar on Thursday. Governor Ayade said that the state would witness the arrival of 100 investors from Henan, who would set up various companies and industries in Cross River. He also stated that the...

North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un Orders Countrymen To Copy His ‘Ambitious’ Hair Style

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has ordered men to copy his 'ambitious' hair style limiting growth to a maximum length of 2cm.Anyone breaching the restrictive guidelines face having their hair shorn by authorities, especially in universities, who have been warned to watch out for any capitalist styles. Women are advised to copy his wife, Ri Sol-ju's bob. According to the Sun: 'University student monitors are walking around with scissors and cutting off the hair of offenders.'Kim has let it...

Our Roads Are Dead– Buhari

President Muhammdu Buhari on Wednesday admitted that Nigerian roads are “dead” and required urgent attention of the Federal Government. The president spoke at a dinner he hosted in honour of senators at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja Wednesday night. The event was also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu; the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; top government officials and...

Kaduna State Government Approves Compensation For Rimi College Allottees

As part of its human capital development agenda, the Kaduna State Government is committed to expanding access to quality education. Central to its education reform programme is the restoration of the iconic schools whose facilities have been encroached by public institutions and private concerns. The recovery of school lands is imperative to better position the schools to properly discharge their primary mandate.

Nominees of The Future Awards Africa 2015 Hosted At An Exclusive Event By The U.S Consul-General In Lagos

The Future Awards Africa nominees were hosted to an exclusive nominees reception by the United States Consul-General, John Bray, at his residence in Lagos, on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.  He recognized the strides achieved by The Future Awards Africa over the past ten years and commended the inspiring contribution of young Africans who are making a difference in their communities and globally. “I am delighted that my first act in Nigeria is recognizing young people...

Governor El-Rufai’s Statement On The Nigerian Communication Commission Fine

As part of a duty of political responsiveness to Nigerians who are entitled to all the facts, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna, hereby issues this statement on the NCC fine. “At the most recent meeting of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum on Wednesday, 18 November 2015, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission gave a presentation. During the question and answer session that 

Nigeria Immigration Needs 25,000 New Personnel- Comptroller General

The Nigeria Immigration Service requires about 5,000 personnel annually for the next five years to meet its manpower capacity, its comptroller-general, Martins Abeshi, has said. Mr. Abeshi said this Thursday in Abuja when the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, visited the NIS as part of his familiarisation tour of parastatals under his ministry. On the botched recruitment where some applicants lost their lives, the comptroller-general said the NIS was ready to conduct and absorb new...

Fuel Scarcity: Imo Lawmakers Set Up Taskforce To Check Marketers

The Imo State House of Assembly has set up a joint taskforce to monitor independent oil marketers and ensure that they stop taking undue advantage of the present fuel scarcity. While the fuel scarcity persisted, the lawmakers said it was concerned about the groaning agony faced by Imo citizens in getting fuel, as oil marketers had exploited the masses. The taskforce is made up of some lawmakers, Department of Petroleum Resources...

Herbalist Abducts, Turns Minors to Sex Slaves

Two stolen kids that were rescued by the Cross River State Police Command on Thursday said they were made sex slaves by a herbalist, Emmanuel Akpan-Okon, who held them hostage for four years. The kids, Esther Wisdom and Felicia Destiny, both aged 11, said in the four years that they were held hostage, the herbalist raped them almost every day. Akpan-Okon (42) was arrested by the police following a tip-off that he specialised in...

Chris Hemsworth Unveiled As The New Face Of TAG Heuer

Thor actor, Chris Hemsworth has been unveiled as the new face of TAG Heuer. The Swiss watchmaker announced on Wednesday that the 32-year-old Australian actor would be joining their team as their new International Brand Ambassador, after sharing a behind-the-scenes video of the star shooting the latest campaign titled Don't Crack Under Pressure. More photos below...