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Oshiomhole Vs Okonjo Uweala : A Case Of A Country Unable To Audit Its Finances
- By Omojuwa IO

Published July 26th, 2015

Adams Oshiomhole current governor of Edo state has been hot in the news recently. Following the victory of Buhari and the APC in the recent polls both at national and state levels, Oshiomhole appears to be assuming a larger profile in national matters particularly where it concerns the management of the nations treasury and oil wealth.  The issues Oshiomhole has been harping on are serious matters and deserve to be clarified with utmost seriousness and sense of responsibility.  On the other hand the main target of Oshiomholes tirades is the former super minister, coordinating minister of the economy and finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo Uweala. Okonjo Uwealas intimidating profile and stature need no restating here, neither does the fact that the former president handed her the reins of the nations economy to do as she deemed fit with. It is safe to conclude that her say over matters concerning the Nigerian economy came second only to that of the then president thus it would appear appropriate that Oshiomhole continues to emphasise the level of responsibility this woman bears in giving account to Nigerians reasons for the current state of Nigeria's finances.

Under normal circumstances in societies where probity is valued such questions and issues being raised by Oshiomhole should and would be addressed not only with all seriousness but also promptly and exhaustively so as to quell any further suspicions or debates about the sincerity and transparency of those trusted with the management of our commonwealth.

This is Nigeria however, things are never that simple. Right and wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, good or bad, hero or villain are all predicated on who is asking the questions, who the respondent is, where the personae are from, their tribes, their political parties and even in some cases who their spouses are. A simple call to account for the management of the nations funds thus becomes akin to a catfight where nothing is off limits in attempts to besmear either side.

Irrespective of the familiar resort to diversionary sentiments the fact remains that clarifications which I think will become even more inevitable as president Buhari forms his cabinet will be required of Ngozi Okonjo Uweala and obfuscative responses will do her little good. It is Nigerias recurrent misfortune that those hailed as leading lights and excellent technocrats, usually burnished with exaggerated foreign credentials turn out to be over rated and little better than the same politicians they were expected to curtail and sanitize.

To his credit Oshiomhole has resisted the attempts to cower him with name calling and dubious pontifical proselytizing by those that should normally subject themselves to public scrutiny as public officers of international repute. The greatest strength of Oshiomholes arguments seem to simply be that he has in his grasp the crucial figures and data. Reading between the lines of the arguments it also becomes clearer that these figures are coming to light only as the former minister has been displaced by a new government. While the mere fact that our finances donít add up wont come as a shock to Nigerians who have repeatedly been patronized with lectures about the difference between stealing and corruption, the extent and brazenness of the purported looting taking place  under the person of no other than our World Bank, Havard alumnus, Forbes top 100 listed coordinating minister of the economy is what rankles concerned Nigerians. Nigerians may however also be concerned about our inability to audit our activities and finances without being diverted by sentimental issues.

While Ngozi Okonjo Uweala herself has several times implied that Oshiomholes persistence is borne out of motives that are less than noble, the PDP, commenting on Buharis determination to probe the activities of the last government would only be satisfied if other previous governments are probed too as if whatever judgement a probe of previous governments produces could exonerate Jonathans government. It was therefore probably inevitable that the Oshiomhole - Ngozi Uweala faceoff may be mistaken for a personal tiff as issues concerning financial probity where the federal and state finances are involved with the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee playing a central role should normally elicit the interest and comments from numerous other persons involved including governors, commissioners and director generals of ministries involved. So why is it only Oshiomhole that is speaking? What has become of our sense of civic responsibility and patriotism that so many who should know can be silent on such a weighty matter?

Worse still our institutions appear have lost their sense of civic responsibility core of which is to maintain proper and accurate public information and records. The ministries, departments and government organisations involved in the management of these funds have felt no obligation to speak and set figures right, after all Nogozi Okonjo uweala was not keeping the money in her handbag. That on its own speaks volumes of the manner in which our finances were managed and the quality of our institutions.

The deeper lesson implied is that governments management of our financial resources is anything but transparent and the lack of transparency breeds corruption which seems to be the reason for the discrepancies in our finances that the former minister is unable to convincingly explain. Corruption detests transparency and the more corrupt a system is the more it strives to maintain opacity in its activities. It is this racket that Oshiomhole attempts to combat and expose.

Whatever may be his motivations I commend Oshiomhole on his persistence and insistence on clarifications from the minister. On her own part Ngozi Okonjo Uweala has never shied from regaling us with her World Bank pedigree, I urge her to respond as she would had this query come from her management of World Bank resources. She knows the World Bank wont accept name calling and conspiracy tales as explanation for unbalanced books. Nothing short of full disclosure will rest this issue.

Omojuwa IO




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