Search Site: OnlineNigeria

Close






Report links Obasanjo with blocking Okonjo-Iweala

Posted by By Paul Ohia with agency reports on 2007/01/22 | Views: 537 |

Report links Obasanjo with blocking Okonjo-Iweala


Growing speculations in diplomatic quarters that the inability of former Finance/Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to bag the United Nations number two job was instigated from home got further credibility on Monday when an Australian newspaper published that President Olusegun Obasanjo may have scuttled the bid at the last minute.

Growing speculations in diplomatic quarters that the inability of former Finance/Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to bag the United Nations number two job was instigated from home got further credibility on Monday when an Australian newspaper published that President Olusegun Obasanjo may have scuttled the bid at the last minute.

According to a report on theaustralian.news.com.au written from New York by David Nason, the new UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, was set to announce the name of Okonjo-Iweala as the Deputy Secretary-General but could not secure the requisite endorsement from Obasanjo.

This, according to the report, made the UN boss to look for an easy alternative, a person that would accept the job at short notice. That was how Asha-Rose Migiro, described as "a novice foreign minister in Tanzania for less than a year", came in as a ready substitute.

"The favourite on most lists was former Nigerian Finance and Foreign Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a highly regarded Harvard-educated economist with senior-level experience at the World Bank.

"One story now circulating is that Ban wanted Okonjo-Iweala but at the last minute, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo withdrew his support.

"Having already advised the heads of UN regional groups of his intention to appoint an African woman at the end of his first week - briefing papers to this effect were widely circulated - Ban needed to save face.

"So he looked for an African woman who would take the job at short notice. Migiro fitted the bill."

When THISDAY sought the comments of the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President, Mrs. Remi Oyo, yesterday, she denied that Obasanjo blocked Okonjo-Iweala.

Oyo said the story could simply not be true, stating emphatically that president Obasanjo did not and could not have blocked Okonjo-Iweala from the job.

Excerpts from the story titled "UN chief 'hits the ground stumbling'" reads:

One of the unlucky features of Ban Ki-moon's first two weeks as UN Secretary-General has been the absence of a traditional media honeymoon period. Instead of some leeway to find his feet, the veteran South Korean diplomat has been on the receiving end almost from day one.

This should not have surprised Ban. The general expectation at UN headquarters in New York was that perceptions of mismanagement, corruption, lack of accountability and missed reform opportunities - the legacy of KofiAnnan's final years as secretary-general - would carry over and deprive Ban of a scepticism-free passage into his new job.

But even allowing for this handicap, Ban's performance in his first two weeks has raised an enormous level of disquiet. "Hit the ground stumbling," was how one insider grimly put it last week. "It's early days, I know, but if I was working in his office right now, I'd be panicking."

Driving such criticisms have been inept media performances and baffling senior appointments that have raised doubts about Ban's ability to lift the UN from its organisational and cultural rut.

Ban came to the UN promising a lot. He was going to give the Secretariat new direction, restore the trust between it and the 192 member nations and making ethics and transparency UN bywords.

But two weeks in, people are beginning to ask if the UN, in stumping for the man known in Seoul as the "slippery eel", has bought a lemon. Nothing his fanned these flames more than Ban's decision to appoint Tanzania's novice foreign minister, Asha-Rose Migiro, as his deputy.

The move has shocked seasoned UN watchers and Ban's feeble attempts to end the controversy last week have only made things worse. Like Annan, who created the deputy's position in 1998 and gave it to former Canadian defence minister, Louise Frechette, Ban wanted a woman for the job. He also hoped to select an African.

The favourite on most lists was former Nigerian finance and foreign minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a highly regarded Harvard-educated economist withsenior-level experience at the World Bank. Migiro, foreign minister in Tanzania for less than a year, was not considered a contender.

That changed on January 5 when Migiro, chairing a meeting in Lesotho's capital, Maseru, received a phone call from Tanzanian President Kakaya Kikwete. The Secretary-General, Kikwete said, had just called to offer her the deputy's job. The condition was that Migiro accept immediately because Ban wanted to announce the appointment in New York that same day.

Shortly after, Ban reached Migiro on the phone himself. As one East African newspaper put it, she accepted the offer "almost in disbelief".

In New York the reaction was also disbelief. Migiro was an unknown from one of the poorest countries in the world. Before her surprise elevation to foreign minister, her ministerial experience had been limited to a junior social affairs portfolio.

Even her seat in Tanzania's parliament was questionable - being reserved solely for women.

And those who did know Migiro said she was shy and retiring, polar opposite character traits to her predecessor, Briton Mark Malloch Brown. Most importantly, Migiro had little background in management, yet Ban was entrusting her with one of the most difficult management jobs imaginable: the day-to-day oversight of the entire weird and wonderful UN bureaucracy.

Once it emerged that Migiro had won the job without any formal discussion about her role and had last year publicly supported Iran's nuclear ambitions, and expressed hope that Tanzanian uranium might one day feed Tehran's reactors, the battle was on.

For the best part of a week, Ban's official spokesperson was under siege asthe UN press corp demanded moreinformation about the Migiro selection process.

Last Thursday, when Ban held his first official media conference, he was able to answer for himself. "There was some report about Dr Migiro, whom I have chosen as the Deputy Secretary-General," Ban began.

"I have worked with her closely as a counterpart, each as foreign minister of our respective countries.

"Coincidentally, I was flying together with her on an airplane from a certain point to Tanzania while I was going to visit Tanzania.

"We were sitting together. We spent at least six hours talking together, knowing each other. I have engaged in many more discussions with her, and I have known her."

It was neither a full nor credible explanation and the impression left was of someone reluctant to be open and honest. It was also at odds with Migiro's claims, reported in Africa, that she met Ban only once, at a reception in Seoul, prior to being offered the job.

Nowhere has Migiro mentioned an intimate six-hour flight. One story now circulating is that Ban wanted Okonjo-Iweala but at the last minute Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo withdrew his support.

Having already advised the heads of UN regional groups of his intention to appoint an African woman at the end of his first week - briefing papers to this effect were widely circulated - Ban needed to save face.

So he looked for an African woman who would take the job at short notice. Migiro fitted the bill.

The $US18 million ($23.1million) in aid South Korea gave Tanzania last year - Korean aid had totalled just $US4.7million between 1991-2003 - helped convince Kikwete to give up his foreign minister.

How much truth is in this story will be clearer over time, but the mere fact that it is circulating is damaging to Ban and Migiro.

The Tanzanian is due to arrive in New York later today but, remarkably, Ban's office says there won't be any media appearances before she officially begins her duties next month.

Read Full Story Here.... :
Leave Comment Here :



Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Captcha Image

Comments (3)

Gravatar
New
Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Gravatar
New
Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Gravatar
New
Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown