It is official! Dr Kingsley Isitua Obiora’s nomination by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari – which is in accordance with the provision of section 8(1) (2) of the CBN Act 2007 – for the position of Deputy Governor, Economic Policy Directorate, of Nigeria’s apex financial regulatory institution, the Central Bank of Nigeria, has been ratified by the Ahmad Lawan led Senate. Dr. Obiora will replace the retiring Dr. Joseph Nnanna, whose term expires on February 2, 2020.
Yours sincerely joins millions of elated Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora in commending Mr. President for being spot-on with this appointment and hoping that he continues traveling on this objective trajectory in his subsequent appointments. It must be opined that apart from the huge excitement it has elicited across the country, this appointment is undoubtedly timely, strategic and richly deserved by the recipient who boasts a very rich academic resume, coupled with an iron cast background in the workings of the global financial system to function seamlessly in the designated position. The country stands to benefit a great deal from the vast experience of this great mind.
The appointment of Dr. Kingsley Isitua Obiora cannot be faulted using any parameter whatsoever. He comes loaded with the credentials of a seasoned grand-master in his field. With a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin, where he emerged the overall best graduating student, a Masters degree in Economics from the Premier University of Ibadan, where he further upped the ante in a very competitive class by again finishing as the overall best graduating student and the first to get a distinction in that programme in over 20 years, and a Doctorate in Monetary and International Economics, also from the University of Ibadan, where he bested the best, this young man holds all the aces and jokers.
At 31 years of age, Obiora was already a doctoral degree holder from a first-class Nigerian university. But rather than constituting a hindrance to his advancement, the fact that he was wholly trained in Nigeria did not prevent the IMF from discovering him through the globally competitive “Economist Program” in 2007. He is the first black African to be employed directly from an African university by the IMF which had a penchant for recruiting only Africans that graduated from Western Ivy League universities. He has written and co-authored several academic papers, which have been published in some of the world’s most reputable academic journals. Some of his most incisive publications include IMF working policy papers, such as :Decoupling from the East Toward the West? Analyses of Spillovers to the Baltic Countries, published and circulated by the IMF in 2009; Do Trading Partners Still Matter for Nigeria’s Growth? A Contribution to the Debate on Decoupling and Spillovers, which was focused on Nigeria in the framework of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis; et al.
Dr. Obiora’s career path as an economist has been equally fascinating, to say the least. Three successive Nigerian Presidents, including the incumbent, have benefited immensely from Obiora’s inputs which have had direct impacts on their economic policies. Between 2003 and 2006, While working at the Centre for Econometric and Allied Research (CEAR), Obiora contributed to the development of an Econometric Forecasting Model for Policy Analyses for Nigeria’s National Planning Commission. During the Tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, he contributed to the modelling and estimation of the macroeconomic framework for Nigeria’s National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) II Programme. Under Goodluck Jonathan, he served as Technical Adviser to the National Economic Management Team and Special Assistant to the Chief Economic Adviser to the former president. He also arrow headed the team that built the macroeconomic framework for the Buhari administration’s Economic Reform and Growth Plan (ERGP), the administration’s central policy document, and between June 2014 till July 2018, served as Special Adviser on Economic Matters to Godwin Emefiele, incumbent Governor of the CBN. He was subsequently appointed an Alternate Executive Director at the IMF on August 2018 where he has been part of the day-to-day running of the world’s biggest international lender, representing 23 African countries at the Bretton Woods institution at the same time. At 43, he will become the youngest Nigerian to head the Economic Policy Directorate of the CBN, another first for this young man.
The new Deputy Governor of the CBN, like his other compatriots making their marks in other fields of human endeavor across the globe, is helping change the negative perception that anything produced in Nigeria is inferior in juxtaposition with those made abroad. He is an unadulterated made-in-Nigeria product. He was born, bred and trained within our shores, incredible as it might sound, before launching out abroad to horn his skills, make his bones and stamp his authority on the global financial sector. He has proved again, like his fellow countrymen and women raising the bar across the globe, that Nigeria is not a wasteland after all; that something good can still come out of Nigeria.
There are several other Kingsley Obioras scattered across the length and breadth of Nigeria waiting to take on the world and conquer it. But painfully, most of them lack the incentives to soar. These Nigerians possess the intellects, but not the financial wherewithal to pursue their lofty dreams. They are the Other Nigerians whose growth have been incapacitated by the incongruous dispositions of the inept drivers of the Nigerian State system. The Other Nigerians are the innocent victims of amoral leadership and its attendant disruptions; victims of a rank mess that is not of their making; casualties of the impassive actions of a few demented demagogues who have sailed the country’s Titanic into an avoidable iceberg. The Other Nigerians are the wretched of the earth who have been forced to live in an environment where mediocrity is elevated at the expense of merit. The Other Nigerians are the geniuses, the sleeping giants who have been put to slumber by the opiate administered on them by the dark lords in the mansions of power.
Nigeria’s current state of squalor is unacceptable. Her case is that of a well-proportioned, extremely beautiful black Belle who does not appreciate her true worth. She’s like an empress who thinks and acts like a commoner. She has all it takes to rule her world but lacks the sagacity and drive to exploit her endowments to the fullest. She is like the human anatomy which remains inert and unproductive until stimulated. She is like a land of milk and honey without people ready to harvest her exceedingly abundant wealth; an uncultivated fertile land, or what Ola Rotimi in his 1974 classic, Ovonramwen Nogbaisi, refers to as “a rich farm soil without the feel of roots”. That is Nigeria for you: a country with all the trappings of greatness; a potential world champion that has continued to underachieve; a heavyweight that spars with featherweights; a king Kong trapped in a wooden cage; a lethargic sleeping giant.
However, there is another Nigeria out there waiting to unleash her abundant potentials. It is the Nigeria of our dream; a land of possibilities where its people can dare to dream big; a country that has all it takes to take its pride of place in the comity of nations. With its extravagant manpower resources and the natural wealth (oil, gas, coal, uranium, tin-ore, columbite, iron ore, limestone, gold, arable land et al) that can make a determined country truly great, Nigeria has no business wallowing in the tar-pit of shame it currently finds itself.
What Nigeria currently lacks is purposeful leadership on which to anchor the collective aspiration for a New Nigeria. Nigeria requires a leadership that works assiduously towards protecting and promoting the collective interests and well-being of EVERY Nigerian; an objective leadership that is not driven by nepotism, cronyism and other primordial sentiments; one that gives every Nigerian a sense of belonging. This is not wishful thinking, but a possible Utopia Nigerians should work towards achieving. There are giant gains that can be made when a people are driven by a leadership with a mission to serve. If other lesser endowed countries could do it, why can’t Nigeria do the same? Why can’t Nigeria metamorphose into the African continent’s demographic Hercules – a major and influential actor in global affairs?
I join your well-wishers in congratulating you, Dr. Kingsley Isitua Obiora, on your deserved appointment, praying that the good Lord continues to elevate you throughout your tenure in the CBN. May He imbue you with the wisdom, understanding and knowledge to bring your wealth of experience to bear on your new assignment and, ultimately, crown your efforts with resounding success. You are not only a source of pride to your family, but to your community, state and nation. Bon Voyage, my brother. Pax!
*** Jude Obuseh is the Executive Director of Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Initiative (CPPBI)