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A tale of two ladies First, at NIPC…

In an interview in the September 27 edition of Saturday New Telegraph, the man lived up to his billing when he declared that President Goodluck…

In an interview in the September 27 edition of Saturday New Telegraph, the man lived up to his billing when he declared that President Goodluck Jonathan does not deserve a second term and that “CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) leadership today is zero.” The association, he also said, has been turned by its current leadership into an “appendage of the PDP (the ruling Peoples Democratic Party)”.
One of the most interesting aspects of the interview was his narration of the encounter he had with the president in the Aso Rock Villa during the run-up to the 2011 presidential election. After his audience with the president in the company of two other gentlemen, he said, the president asked him to pray for his success at the polls. To the president’s shock, the Cardinal said, he declined because he believed even though the president was as good as having won the election, he was not going to rule.
“You have won, that is no problem”, the Cardinal said, “but you will not rule.”
President: What? What do you mean, I will not rule?
Cardinal: Yes sir, others will rule. Those around you will rule. They are the ones that will rule in your place.
Many a Nigerian today, I suspect, will agree with me that the Cardinal’s over three year old prophesy has come to pass; today not quite a few of the president’s men – and women, these in particular – have curved little  private empires for themselves in which they presume to exercise their principal’s remit without his permit.  Of these private empires within the president’s Big Empire, three, headed by women, should remind you of Chinweizu’s famous Anatomy of Female Power (1990) whose thesis is that Man, not Woman, is the weaker sex. Using the words of probably an apocryphal American housewife, he argues that the notion that we live in a man’s world is so much bunkum because a man may be the head of his house, but the woman of the house is the neck that turns the head.  
The Number One private empire in the president’s Big Empire is, of course, that of the first lady, Patience, about which a lot has been written by pundits, including yours sincerely. Then there is that of the Minister of Finance who also doubles as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, making her, in effect, the country’s prime minister and the first to attain such a status since the return to civilian rule in the country in 1999.
The third is that of the Petroleum Resources minister, Mrs Dizeani Alison-Madueke, without doubt the most powerful oil minister to date. It’s a toss-up whose empire, between the two powerful female ministers’, is the more powerful.
In all three private empires stuff have happened, some benign, some not-so-benign. From the look of things, the seed of a fourth private female empire is being planted at a very important economic institution in the land, namely the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), a parastatal of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment saddled with attracting foreign investment in the country. Chances are, this seed, unlike the other three, will grow into anything but a benign tree. It will certainly be one private empire too many.
As I once said on these pages, in spite of NIPC, Nigeria, like most developing countries, is a net exporter of capital, given the colossal amount of stolen money stashed abroad from the country. However, without NIPC even the relatively modest amount that has come in would probably never have done so. It is therefore important that the fairly impressive record of performance left behind by its last Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (ES/CEO), Engineer Mustapha Bello, be sustained at the least, if not improved upon.
However, from the look of things it seems Bello’s successor is a square peg in a round hole. To begin with, Mrs Saratu A. Umar seems to have come to the job with a baggage; over a year ago, she left as the Head of the Credit Insurance and Guaranty Department of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank rather unceremoniously.
Since her appointment as the NIPC boss several months ago, it seems Mrs Umar is more interested in rubbishing the record of the leadership she took over from than in establishing her own. This, at least, is the impression one gets from reading a petition against her by the majority of the commission’s directors to its parent ministry.
The new ES/CEO has good reason to be suspicious of the some of the directors; they too competed for the job. A good manager would, however, have given her presumed rivals the benefit of doubt until they proved themselves unworthy of her trust.
Instead, Mrs Umar, according to the petition, has, among other things, encouraged staff to write secret memos against each other, encouraged insubordination by publicly humiliating directors and wilfully ignoring procedure in treating files, removing the Legal Adviser and Secretary of the commission’s board without the board’s approval, employing staff into senior positions without budgetary approval and in violation of the Federal Character principle and engaging contractors and employing consultants without due process, etc, etc.
Mrs Umar has reportedly dropped hints that in carrying on the way she allegedly has, it is with the support of her minister, Mr Olusegun Aganga, and even that of the president.
The minister owes himself to clear his name – and by extension, the president’s – from seemingly credible suspicions that he has turned a blind eye to Mrs Umar’s apparent manifest wrongs. He can only clear his name by investigating the allegations to establish whether they are true or false. Whichever party is wrong should get the sack because it is obvious there is now too much bad faith within the leadership of the commission for it to carry out its mandate with any success.
Certainly no one should be allowed to build a mini-empire out of an institution whose remit is to attract the foreign investment we say is necessary to grow and develop our economy.

…Then a sad one from NAN
Last Wednesday, October 1, Nigeria lost one of its most accomplished journalists, Mrs Felicia Oluwaremilokun Oyo, the first, and so far the only, female President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and one of the most effective and transparent managing directors of the country’s news wholesaler, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Remi died barely eleven days shy of her 62nd birthday.
Apart from being the first female president of the NGE and the first female boss of NAN she was also the first female spokesperson of a Nigerian president. In all three jobs she proved she was there not just as a token to the “weaker” sex in a world thoroughly dominated by men. She proved she earned them on her own merit.
Take, for instance, her job as the spokesperson of President Olusegun Obasanjo. It spoke volumes about her ability to handle a man whose capacity for leaning on his own advice is legendary that of all the three spokespersons he had during his eight years as president, she was the longest serving by a wide margin. Not only was she able to retain his confidence longer than her predecessors she did so at the same time by being civil in her words and actions towards her professional colleagues even when she was defending such indefensible decisions by her boss like his infamous Third Term Agenda which he never formally declared.
As a onetime board member of NAN, I can attest to her concern for professionalism and her own personal integrity. At least twice, first in February 2008 and then in September, there were attempts to damage the credibility of NAN under her, presumably by elements probably linked to the agency who were apparently unhappy with her determination to sweep out the financial rot she had inherited when she became managing director in 2007.
One of her first acts as managing director was to write to then Minister of Information and Communication, expressing her concern about the financial misdeeds in the agency and her worry that the ICPC which she had invited to deal with the misdeeds has been rather too tardy in its handling about the matter.
The first attempt at undermining NAN’s professional integrity under her was a story purporting to emanate from the agency which claimed that a Federal Court of Appeal had dismissed President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s election. Fortunately for Remi, someone from The Punch called to verify the story. NAN moved quickly to disown it.
The second time she was not so lucky. This time, Channels, the well respected Lagos private television station, ran the story sent out from a bogus email address, [email protected] which said President Yar’adua would resign after a cabinet reshuffle as a result of his well known ill-health. Channels had attributed the story to AFP, the French news agency, which in turn had attributed it to NAN.
That she survived the attempts to sabotage her was probably due to the confidence the authorities had in her professional and personal integrity.
Her death is indeed a great loss to Nigerian journalism. May the Good Lord give her immediate family and members of her larger professional constituency the fortitude to bear her loss.

In a paragraph of your column today (September 17), you wrote that “I would like to use the FELINE metaphors we as journalists are fond of.” It should have been CANINE and not feline. Feline describes cats; canine describes dogs. Since you were talking of dogs…‘lapdogs, attack dogs’, the fit and proper word should be CANINE.
May Almighty Allah continue to strengthen and bless your pen! Paul Ikwu, Jos, +2347068194122.
You said last week that Professor Shehu Bida was the first veterinary doctor in the North. Long before him there were Northerners that qualified, e.g. Dr Bukar Shuaib (1958) and Dr Musa Goni (1961), both of them from Borno State. You can check that from the Veterinary Council Office in Vom (Plateau State). +2348024511202.

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