Last week, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina graced global acclaim when he was sworn-in as the 8th president of the African Development Bank (AFDB) at an event held in Abidjan, the Ivorien capital, which attracted attracted personalities from across the country.
In addition to vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo who flew in from Abuja to share in this golden moment for the country, other titans from across the political spectrum also stormed the venue to demonstrate solidarity with a worthy Nigerian whom the Senior Special Assistant to Preskident Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu described as someone with a proven track record that predates his position as Nigeria’s minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The roll call of attendance at the event to honour Adesina cut across the two major political parties- the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Though his colleagues in the PDP came basically to discountenance the trending argument that seeks automatic vilification for the administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, chieftains from the ruling APC, including the governor of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje and former governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayemi Fayemi came to endorse uncommon capacity.
According to Adesina,’ I like to thank the people of Africa for your prayers and your belief in me. I am humbled by the support I have received from the continent. I promise to work hard with African governments to deliver more inclusive economic growth across our beautiful continent’.
His inauguration cemented Nigeria’s position in the driving seat of the African economy. So if all Africa could rise in admiration for Adesina for promoting productivity in the continent, how could Nigeria vilify the platform which produced excellence? The argument that has been diagnosed as self-serving is that by approving a package of emergency fiscal and financial relief, for the former administration he co-facilitated the slide of numerous states in Nigeria into economic depression and bankruptcy.
And that by facilitating the payment of salaries to state governments that were unjustifiably owing civil servants, the new administration saved millions of Nigerians from sinking into the hunger and poverty.
The questionable argument also ran that because the justifiable fear exists that funds paid to errant chief executives of states would be used to purchase goods and pay contractors services, thus energizing local economies that were becoming flaccid due to lack of aggregate consumer demand, there was need to scrutinize their preferences.
The argument that the former government should have taken similar steps to fortify the economy against trending fiscal rascality is, unfortunately, tenable. For example, in Osun State, instead of addressing issues of malfeasance against Gov Rauf Aregbesola which were raised by a serving judge in the state, Justice Olamide Oloyede, the National Judicial Council (NJC) prefers to preoccupy itself with the mundane allegation of extra-marital co-habitation against the judge.
Substantive allegations of sleaze against the governor have seemingly been pigeonholed by the state house of assembly, justifying fears by the opposition that the war against corruption could similarly be manipulated in Osun against political opponents just as the same opponents have effectively been shut out of hearing allegations against the governor by the state legislature. It is an inelegant muddle!
Notwithstanding, Adesina’s dazzle in Abidjan restores hope in the fact that despite attempts by political hawks to hijack the commendable war against corruption and deploy it to coerce or blackmail political opponents, there is virtue in the universal acceptability and capacity of the Nigerian to excel in his chosen area of excellence.
There may be virtue in the allegation that some operatives in the last administration may have constituted economic saboteurs and treasury looters but until all allegations are proven, these belong in the realm of conjecture! As the former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan himself said in his congratulatory letter to some of his former appointees who have been vindicated with world appointments, their recognition upholds the fact that despite their political travails back home, the rest of the world still finds it expedient to confer recognition on their expertise.
Like Adesina, the former Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arumna Oteh, who has been appointed vice-president and treasurer of the World Bank, has also made a lavish statement about the extra-ordinary capacity of the Nigerian professional for excellence despite being trapped in the uncomplimentary stereotype of criminality.
Even without the former president drawing attention to the undeniable metaphor of his former lieutenants as world class ambassadors, the rest of the world was convinced that given the right encouragement and incentives, Nigerians are extra-ordinary individuals who can excel anywhere as they have done all over the world.