Listen up everyone, Sonala Olumhense has sunk into the mire. He needs no help. He would rather remain there and make a fool of himself than come out for cleansing. He pretends to understand issues when he does not. He claimed to have the solution to the issues confronting us as a nation, when he doesn’t understand how to place his own intellectual bearing. Instead of using his pen to advance the truth and increase the understanding of his readers on pertinent issues, he would rather use it as a tool of vendetta and gladly hand it to the highest bidder.
I didn’t realise how much his intellectual muscle has atrophied until I began to read some of his articles. They are laced with falsehood, half-truths and unsubstantiated claims. The latest is the article published on Saharareporters, Guardian and some other online news media. In that article, Ngozi Iweala: Nigeria’s Weakest Link, he reached for a knife and viciously lurched at the integrity of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala – a brand that was painstakingly built with hard labour and Providence’s favour over the years, locally and internationally.
The web of ignorance spun with tactless abandon throughout the article could be seen from the first paragraph where he blindly asserts that Okonjo-Iweala is “the weakest link in a very weak chain.” He goes further by writing that “she is the clearest argument as to why progress may be impossible in the Goodluck Jonathan era because she is painting when she should be digging up. She is nurturing poverty, not combating it.” Hmmmnnn….
For a perceptive reader, it is clear that Sonala has no grasp of the subject matter he is vaunting about. And the best course his parochial mindset could trump up is to turn the subject on its head and begin to grope his way to the head! Friends, that’s exactly what he did!
Looking at the world from his tainted lens, Sonala, in ten watery arguments, tried to paint Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as one who is incompetent and playing in the corruption league as him.
His first of the dime a dozen lame arguments is that NOI abandoned the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) after a few months. He even alleges that the money in the account of the program also vanished. One would have expected that a writer worth his salt should have researched this claim before making such ignorant harangue. Perhaps, it will interest Sonala to know that one of the cruxes of the NEEDS proposal is to develop the industrial sector by relying more on local resources and less on imports. For an impartial analysis, it will be clear to them that this was one of the main agenda pursued by Dr. Okonjo-Iweala all through her time as Minister of Finance under the Obasanjo regime. As for the money tied to NEEDS, isn’t it suspicious that he makes such spurious, unsubstantiated claim?
His second point is on the promise made by President Obasanjo that poverty would be eradicated by 2010. Curiously, Sonala neither mentioned Iweala as the one that made such promise neither did he inform us why the point was brought forward. Isn’t it proper for Sonala to direct the question to Obasanjo himself and the 13 federal Ministries involved in the Poverty Eradication Programme?
The third allegation in the article is even more venomous. Sonala seeks to steal the show by alluding to the allegation made by Audu Ogbe that,”in the negotiations with the Paris Club, one ’top member’ of the government walked away with a personal fee of N60 billion.” He continues, ‘’Ogbeh did not disclose who it was, but the allegation seemed to fit either President Obasanjo or Okonjo-Iweala. None of them has ever challenged it.” Pray, isn’t this the height of absurdity in a nation like Nigeria, with a vibrant media industry, where investigative journalists unearth shady practices that are less than a billion? At least, by now, we should have known who the culprits are. But Sonala has only shown how bereft he is of the gift of rigorous thinking, which everyone who wields the pen must be enamoured, by making such a wild allegation without any verifiable basis.
The fourth allegation cuts a semblance with the third point.
His fifth point is that Iweala was instrumental to the establishment of Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on MDGs (OSSAP-MDGs). And that team found out that that the Ministry of Health, alone, squandered most of the N54 billion. Shouldn’t we applaud madam minister for establishing a body that uncovered this rot?
Getting to the sixth and seventh question, Sonala asked about the Abacha loot from Okonjo-Iweala. In a bid to stuff the minister’s boot with the loot, he contradicted himself. In one breath, he claims that madam minister never made explanation about the Abacha loot; in another breath, in his seventh point, he claims that she did explain in a speech after she left office that “General Abacha looted about $3-5 billion from the Nigerian treasury in truckloads of cash in foreign currencies, in traveler’s checks and other means. Most of these monies were laundered abroad through a complex network including some of the world’s best known banks.” Talk about a quintessence of self-befuddlement.
Point eight and nine seek to cast NOI as the President of Nigeria who should take the blame for the nation’s woes during the OBJ era; he also makes her the Chairman of EFCC who should arraign corrupt officials. The Ribadu that Sonala quoted as saying that Obasanjo’s regime was corrupt was in charge of anti-corruption body. Shouldn’t that question be directed at Ribadu as to why he allowed corruption to run riot under his watch?
The last point, just like the others, is nothing more than an account of a commentator whose brain seems drained of the fluid that supplies intelligence. No doubt, Sonala is one of the social commentators who are in the habit of rolling all the blame for Nigeria’s woes on this great woman.
It is obvious to all that NOI has been at the forefront of clearing the mess of corruption in the country. Have we forgotten so soon her efforts at sanitising the oil sector? Bigwigs in the oil industry are behind bars now for shady deals in the subsidy regime.
Knowing full well that any allegation thrown at those in government will stick, especially that of financial impropriety, Sonala is spoiling our day by adding bouts of odious fumes from his blackened exhaust to our national space for as long as this his ill-conceived article is visible.
However, Nigerians are now more perceptive. We know those who care for us. We know those who plunder our commonwealth. And, of course, we know those who defend our commonwealth from marauders. Okonjo-Iweala is there.
We also know those whose ideas are stuck in the mud. Sonala is there!
Omoade Adelani wrote from [email protected]