TEMITOPE OSHIKOYA: THE LIES OF A DISAPPOINTED MAN
It is a shame that someone with the credentials of Dr Temitope Oshikoya would display the kind of dishonesty and moral turpitude present in his article, “Golden Girl and the Icarus Paradox” published in The Guardian of Monday, September 8, 2014. The article is a commentary on the ongoing recruitment process for CEO of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC).
For the sake of transparency, Dr Oshikoya should have let the world know that he was a candidate for this position but unfortunately, he did not make it. The fact that he neglected to mention this is very instructive and demonstrates that he is nothing but a disappointed bitter person who is not man enough to take responsibility for his own performance.
It is quite disheartening when people like Oshikoya, who is expected to know better, impugn efforts to institutionalize a merit-based approach to recruitment for key positions in the country simply because the results did not favour him. Some of us need to learn to put the collective good ahead of individual selfish interest.
The NMRC is, of course, the government sponsored but private-sector driven institution which is central to the Jonathan administration's plan to make mortgage finance accessible to Nigerians. The launch of the first 10,000 mortgages scheme on July 31 underscores the government's commitment to the realization of this objective.
The interview for CEO of NMRC which Dr Oshikoya participated in was part of a transparent process managed by the globally respected consulting firm, Deloitte and Touche. The firm shortlisted ten Nigerians from within and outside the country in a global headhunt which met the standards of international best practice. The interview panel included Managing Director of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mrs Sola David Borha; interim CEO of NMRC, Mr Sunny Ayere; CEO, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Mr Uche Orji; CEO of Aso Savings and Loans Plc, Alhaji Hassan Usman; and representatives of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and DFID. In the end, Dr Oshikoya did not make the short list of the final three candidates who are being proposed to be interviewed by the Board of the NMRC.
It is understandable to feel disappointed in this kind of circumstance. What is not understandable – or justifiable – is to write an article full of vicious falsehoods and distortions against the chair of the interview panel who, for reasons best known to Oshikoya, he erroneously blames for his poor performance. The unwarranted attack against the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance by Oshikoya is nothing but a despicable effort by a person who obviously has an inflated opinion of himself to channel personal frustration against a false object of disappointment.
Oshikoya's long winded article is full of allegations which are as false as they are laughable. For instance, he shamelessly repeats the unfounded story that Okonjo-Iweala appointed Igbos to head agencies in the financial sector. But this is totally untrue as it is a verifiable fact that the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission, AMCON, Nigeria Stock Exchange and others were already in office before Okonjo-Iweala returned to government in August 2011. It is also a fact that Mr Uche Orji, the CEO of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority emerged through a competitive and transparent process supervised by the reputable international consulting firm KPMG and in which the respected Mr Fola Adeola headed the nominations committee.
It is indeed sad that Dr Oshikoya would, by implication, impugn the integrity of Mr Kunle Elebute, Managing Partner of KPMG who supervised the process of hiring the top management team of the NSIA, Mr Dotun Philips, head of Philips Consulting who supervised the FIRS version and Mr Joseph Olofinsola of Deloitte and Touche who oversaw the NMRC process which inspired his article.
In his haste to tar the Minister, Oshikoya neglected to do even the most basic homework. He obviously does not know that the DG of BPE, Mr Benjamin Dikki, one of the “Igbos” whom Oshikoya identified as the Coordinating Minister's appointee is from Kebbi State not Okonjo-Iweala's so-called “geo-ethnic circles” (sic)! Of course, Dr Bright Okogu, the DG Budget Office who is also mentioned is Urhobo from Delta State. He carefully does not mention Dr Mansur Muhtar, Nigeria's most senior representative at the World Bank and Dr Shehu Yahaya, Executive Director at the African Development Bank as well as other qualified persons whose nominations were supported by Dr Okonjo-Iweala. To a mind warped by disappointment and bitterness, the truth is dispensable.
It is beneath contempt for Oshikoya to resurrect old lies about Okonjo-Iweala's alleged role in the failed bid of Mr Bisi Ogunjobi to be elected President of the African Development Bank ten years ago. The final outcome had little to do with Dr Okonjo-Iweala who campaigned vigorously for him once he was nominated as Nigeria's candidate. The truth is that Mr Ogunjobi performed creditably in a competitive process in which all ministers of finance in Africa interviewed candidates but did not emerge the winner. The notion that Okonjo-Iweala could have singlehandedly swung the vote in Mr Ogunjobi's favour but refused to do so is fanciful nonsense.
It is even more despicable for Oshikoya to try and set Dr Okonjo-Iweala up to take the blame, ahead of time, should Nigeria's candidate for the presidency of the African Development Bank this time around fail to make it. It is clear in his appalling write up that Oshikoya is an ethnic bigot carrying out an agenda that is designed to target Dr Okonjo-Iweala. I am sure that Nigeria's candidate for the AfDB presidency, Dr Akin Adesina, given his background and profile, will be keen to dissociate himself from this unscrupulous attempt to sully his reputation and his serious bid for the presidency of AfDB. I know that, unlike Oshikoya, Dr Adesina is perfectly capable of taking responsibility for his performance, good or bad, when the time comes.
Oshikoya's comments on Okonjo-Iweala's historic and widely applauded run for the presidency of the World Bank is the final nail in the coffin of an article that trivializes fact and assaults common sense. Apparently, Temitope Oshikoya, Phd, was asleep when a respected rival, Dr Ocampo stepped down for Okonjo-Iweala during the race and the leading lights and respected voices in the world's premier institutions and media declared her the better candidate to run the institution.
And he must have been oblivious when the world criticized the post Second World War tradition which made the position a monopoly of the US and which was used to stop Okonjo-Iweala from becoming the first non-American to head the institution. Of course he also conveniently forgot that African Presidents who recommended her and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who graciously put her forward were major reasons for her decision to participate. There is no substance in the charge of hubris which Oshikoya lays against Okonjo-Iweala. Obviously for a pseudo-intellectual with an ax to grind there are no limits to the sheer variety of lies that can be deployed in the service of an unholy cause.
Rather than pollute public discourse with an opinion piece riddled with lies and bitterness, Temitope Oshikoya should accept that he simply did not do well in his recent quest to head a key emerging institution and get on with whatever is left of his life. He should step up his game at his next job interview. We wish him good luck.
Nwabuikwu is Special Adviser Media and Communication to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance