Thursday, October 26, 2006

Okonji-Iweala on Hardtalk

Ngozi-Okonji Iweala makes a typically bullish appearance on BBC's Hardtalk. Stephen Sackur tries hard, but you know Ngozi - where Margaret Thatcher swung a handbag, she swings her headtie. She sounds like she's shouting, but then she's Nigerian. Perhaps she's just loud, as are all Nigerians... She does admit to not being happy when she was moved by Mr President, which I have to applaud Stephen Sackur for getting that out of her. Watch it before it gets taken off the website at midnight tonight (Thurs 25th/Fri 26th).


Anonymous said...

LOL @ "where Margaret Thatcher swung a handbag, she swings her headtie"...

Saw it lastnite and i was really impressed. She is a Power House.
Stephen Sackur tried really hard to make her say the 'wrong' things but Ngozi being Ngozi did not sway! Its good how even though she was 'moved' by OBJ to the forign ministry, there is (hopefully) no hard feeling btw them. Also, good that she did not give in to the urge go nuhru-bashing...she applauded the guy...

I like her...hopefully in the next 15yrs, i will be the next N.O.I!!

Jeremy said...

I disagree. It was a mediocre performance. There were several factual errors - she said Nigeria is the size of Western Europe. Whether by geographic size or by population, Western Europe is by far larger. She also said there are 374 languages in Nigeria. The UN usually trots out that there are 250, but I have come across a list of over 500, so where 374 came from - who knows? There was also some understatement in terms of past performance of Nigerian governments: she said there was 'quite a lot of mismanagement in the past.' She also made the claim that the vast majority of people in Nigeria are not corrupt, and that most people are now seeing the effects of the reforms. These are highly contentious points.

My main impression however was that it was a hesitant and somewhat unpolished performance, suggesting that she was talking with a hand tied behind her back - she still wants to play a role and therefore it is not the time for her to reveal her true feelings about being fired.

But then politicians are always having to talk with hands tied, without necessarily coming across as overly defensive. I'd give her 3 or 4 out of 10 for performance. She should watch tapes of Blair to see how someone can lie through their teeth convincingly time after time.

Chxta said...

Disagree with Jeremy. In class now, would write on it later.

Anonymous said...

Besides the technical errors Jeremy pointed out i think her performance was inconsistent and unnecessarily aggressive. Her inability to give a concise answer and her annoying habit of darting round questions make her look inexperienced in the art of political dialogue (double-talk). The whole 'you were removed/ i was moved' is laughable, in a bad comedy sort of way. Her optimism about how Nigeria will be reformed appears almost wishful (especially since she is no longer in place to implement certain reformations). Personally i think she's more of a doer than talker.

Anonymous said...

I watched the last 20 minutes of the interview and I thought she acquitted herself quite well.

Hardtalk has the format that allows the interviewer to ambush the interviewee with preconceived opinions in order to unsettle and unravel the interviewee.

Being able to recognise that and address the issue without a faux pas is astute enough.

The use of statistics to support views has always been the way stress a point, it is up to the interviewer to dispute them if he has better information, else the interviewee wins the point.

I think it was right for her not to prejudge the situation in Ekiti State and to clarify her view of difference between being moved or being removed.

To have allowed the use of removed would have left her accepting the fact that she was humiliated - Hardtalk is for people to forcefully put forward their views, not submit to self-loathing and masochistic self-flagellation.

In the circumstances, I do think she did quite well.

Anonymous said...

Nice one mate, had no idea who she is or what she stood for b4 i stumbled across this.
I've stopped drinking liquid x.
she is an optimist. she is an obasanjo funded optimist. but she is optimistic about babylon which makes me think she is partial to the odd tipple of liquid x.
she is funny... Nkem, you ought to stop drinking Liquid X. no joy there matey.

Anonymous said...

I was going to start with this phrase: "in mordern politics" and then proceed to describe the necessity of eloquence in re when I realized that eloquence, by which I mean rhetoric in the Liberal Arts sense, has always been a necessary or more precisely a vital part of politics, ancient and modern.

Nigerian politicians are really some of the most ineloquent. Listening to a Nigerian politician speak or worse yet, read a speech, is akin to watching a rogue elephant, trunk up, trumpet at full blast, crashing through a plantation of Cassava, pursued by game wardens.

That said, I haven't watched what is supposed to be the technical genius of Okonji-Iweala. I don't hold much hope, but I'll report when I'm done.

Anonymous said...

Well bugger me with a dry stick!

Maybe it's my lowered expectations, but color me impressed. This woman held her own, and did a heck of a lot more than "mediocre."

The problem is, there just aren't any correct answers to give, really. Nigeria is a defendant in a clear-cut murder case and any defense attorney able to get out of the courtroom alive has to be lauded. Well done, Ngozi.

ExtrovertedPrude said...

I have to say i agree with Jeremy and Anon. What exactly did she achieve in/for Nigeria apart from getting some debt relief. This was debt relief that I believe was a point of moot at the time the international community was already deciding on cutting the debt of so many African countries.

I saw this too, and I must agree with Jeremy, I thought her performance was a bit weak. She was not articulate enough for me...lets just say I was expecting more from the woman that was supposed to be shiznit! She was, and is, in denial about Nigeria, corruption within the country, her removal as Minister of Finance and her duties within that role. I guess she is now a fully fledged politician, lying (unconvincingly) and sitting on the fence because she has/had an agenda beyond just being the best Minister of Finance the country could ever have wished for. That is why she was removed!...and oh please, removed, she was. Last time I checked, Inflation was still incredibly high and the Naira was still very weak and I’ve not heard or read anywhere that the monies recovered from foreign accounts were/are being ploughed back into the development of the country (not her fault, but why defend something that so clearly isn't?).

Anonymous said...

"you were removed"
"i was moved"
"you were removed"
"i was moved"
"you were removed"
"i was moved"
"you were moved"
"i was removed"
"Ok now that we've established you were removed... can u now actually tell us why you think that was?"
the dude failed to play the oldest "repetitive banter switch" game in the world. he missed a trick there. I see you're all drinkers... apparently so am i... hic

Anonymous said...

well you all sound very clever, but how much do you know about Okonjo-Iweala and Nigeria?

-Nigeria was never, unlike many other African countries, considered for debt relief, so her renegociation of the debt frees up millions for the treasury

-she was the architect of the consolidation of the Nigerian banking sector, to the extent that it now has 25 banks where there where once 89 fragmented ones, each unable to string a serious loan together and rentseeking off the oil money + Nigeria has been taken off the US and EU lists of countries with a serious risk of money laundering

As a result of these reforms, many more Nigerians abroad and foreign companies have decided to give Nigeria a second go after having left during the military years.

So for those who believe the Naira is very weak - how much has the Nigerian Stock exchange gone up over the last 3 years?

And vis inflation, according to the OECD in 2003=16.1%, in 2004=13.4%, in 2005=12.1% and 2006=8.0%

So instead of sneering at progress, how about reflecting on our own (British in my case) historical idiocies in the creation of 'Nigeria' in the first place, as completely artificial a construct as Yugoslavia.

Nick Norbrook
The Africa Report

culturalmiscellany said...


I wasn't aware of all the facts you have outlined but I certainly was aware of the banking consolidation and Okonji-Iweala's part in that.

I personally found your first comment a little sarcastic and I assume that is how your words were meant to be read. I also think that such a comment about the readers of this blog was harsh and in many ways unnecssary although you have the freedom of speech just like the rest of us.

I would never claim to be an expert on Nigeria or even Africa. However, in my mind blogs are an informal medium whereby those of us who are maybe not as well informed as others get to learn from one another. That is the beauty of this medium as it draws people to discuss on political and social issues where otherwise they may choose to duck out. I would prefer to encourage this kind of openness to the media rather than suggest that people can only offer their opinion if they are already 'all knowing'.


Anonymous said...

Nick Norbrook says: So instead of sneering at progress, how about reflecting on our own (British in my case) historical idiocies in the creation of 'Nigeria' in the first place, as completely artificial a construct as Yugoslavia.

Why? What does one thing have to do with the other? How Nigeria was created is inconsequential, it's how Nigeria's being run and will be run, that's what we're talking about.

You speak of progress, English man, but we who have lived through several periods of "progress" in Nigeria know only to wait a while before "progress" becomes "nightmare". This is why we are skeptical.

Besides, I don't understand what is gained by touting those numbers, Iweala is no longer in a position to do any more good because she was either moved or removed (WTF?) How's that for progress?

Anonymous said...

katharine - i take your point, i was overreacting to what i took to be the ever familiar image of africa that is peddled to us in the media, always corrupt, always incompetent...and thats why i let fly. there are some very talented and decent africans who don't always get the press they should. apologies. i share your faith in blogging.

fred - how nigeria is being run now is what also interests me the most. but if you don't know where you are from how can you know where you are going or whatever madiba said. the inherent structural tensions from roping those three regions together, as you well know, paralyses politics in nigeria, and all debate on the relative merits of such and such a politician seems to boil down to 'well, he could be good for the country, but because he's from the north/south, he can't run for the presidency. i don't think focusing debate on this issue is a bad thing, especially if it can help to highlight its absurdity. whaddya say?

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ, why don’t people see my country for what it is?
Making Nigeria better has nothing to do with government and rule. Nigeria is not about Inflation or economic reform; it is not about policing, crime corruption or any of the other clich├ęd monotonous drivel that gets plastered about the press willy nilly. Nigeria will never… NEVER be a “successful” country the way we define “success” because of what the average Nigerian aspires for and their means of getting it.
If you chose to focus on ingenuity in the face of overwhelming conditions; academic excellence where none ought to exist; pride springing out from abject squalor - then I suggest you look no further than Lagos to identify global case studies on the above. To define Nigeria as successful, you have to redefine the meaning of success. Maybe not redefine it, but think laterally - very very laterally.
At the fundamental core of most Nigerians are the societal viral traits of: greed, wanton pomp and bewildering vanity - the selflessly charitable ones have been drowned out by the omnipresent cry of “goody goody” and “you no wan chop?” in opposition. This is the cry of the masses.
We are what we are. We are Africans basking in filth. We are Nigerians… Nigerians who know nothing but what we know. We are what happens when you give hood-rats copious amounts of money to “better” themselves. A crack head with a million dollars for self improvement will but a million dollars worth of crack - poor quality crack… that’s all he knows.
What do we know about infrastructure? What do we know about global economics? What do we know about politics? We’ve graced the world with absolutely brilliant individuals - do you imply that these competent professionals ought to be led by generation after generation of callous soldier turned politician? What political ideal do you want to sell to the street hawkers of Surulere who’ll sell their next 4 years to a murderous dictator for a single 1000naira vote? It is time T, it is the present, it is 1000Niara in the pocket of a hungry African - what the hell does she care about the aspiring presidents murderous past? Did he not just give her a grand?
Lets not get carried away with our thought processes here. “better” is a word which can be dressed up in pretty statistics - depicting a scenario of: multinational investment, falling inflation and more upmarket housing. What effect does this have on the Surulere street hawker? She is doomed to sell her pawpaw to richer and richer men. Lets not call Nigeria by any other name except Nigeria. Redefine her terms, squint and cock your head to re-examine and critique images which others berate on face view… but don’t call her anything but NIGERIA!!!