• Monday, May 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

The bridge is over there

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Probably unknown to the general public, for the first time ever the Secretary-General of The United Nations Ban Ki-moon; the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim; and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Mrs Christine Lagarde have listened to the stringent pleadings of the “Seventy Senior Elders” who have been urging them to think together, plan together, act together and reflect together.  Indeed, it was Christine Lagarde who summed it all up when she delivered the brilliant bombshell:

“We should talk less and act more.”

All three of them are certainly doing that (at the behest of the Seventy Senior Elders) and the results have been outstanding.

They really work as a team and the combination of forces has been winning huge accolades in the relentless task of dealing with global economic/social issues particularly: Audit failures, Poverty alleviation, Women empowerment, Economic/financial stability, Banking reforms, Regulation of Regulators, Law and Justice, Inequality, Insurgency; and Ebola

Instead of the three powerful agencies colliding with each other over policy formulation and execution, the three leaders work in tandem.

In a deliberate effort to send a powerful message to their respective foot soldiers (boots on the ground), they have visited the most dangerous spots in the world together – Iraq; Afghanistan; Yemen; Syria; Somalia; Ukraine; North Korea; Palestine; Israel; and Zimboda together.  The icing on the cake was their visit to Ferguson, Missouri, in the United States of America following the killing of a 17 year-old black guy Michael Brown by a white policeman, Darren Wilson.

At the joint press conference which followed, all three leaders delivered their unanimous verdict:

“The root cause is poverty fuelled by injustice and fear.”

Consequent upon the superlative success of the new strategy of collaboration (instead of collision and rivalry), the three leaders are not only accessible to the “Senior Elder Citizens”, they decided to reward us by inviting us to an excellent dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel at 57 E57th Street, New York 10022 followed by a visit to the theatre to watch “The Trip To Bountiful” starring Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr and Vanessa Williams at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway.  It’s about a woman’s determination to go home one last time to restore hope and faith to her family.

For Christine Largade, the French lady (and former Minister of Finance in France) who speaks fluent English, it resonates and appeals directly to her obvious intellect and formidable legal skills.  She dazzled us all when she deposed that women and children never start wars but they are inevitably and invariably the worst victims.  Women’s natural instinct is towards the preservation of the family not its destruction.  They want to give hope and restore faith.  She is a really what the French tag “La dame formidable”.

What is fascinating about these three leaders is that between them they are quietly changing (or at least attempting to do so) the course of history – from turmoil and self-destruction to peace and prosperity.  Yet they have remained humble and humane.  We should not be surprised if and when they are jointly rewarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace. The competition may be our own late Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh who sacrificed her life to save the rest of us from the deadly Ebola disease.   Another competitor for the Nobel Prize is our crusading Chief Justice Aloma Muhktar who is due to retire on 20th November 2014.

In their respective capacities, the Secretary-General of the United Nations; the President of the World Bank and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund are obliged to dine and wine with leaders of various countries – including the world’s most brutal and irredeemably corrupt dictators.  Indeed, it is a tricky business.  Somehow, they have learnt how to apply restraint, tact and circumspection to get round brutes to reach out to the desperately poor and homeless not excluding those who have been crippled by fear and despair.  It is a miracle that they themselves do not become dejected when they compare notes.  For example, John Kampfner a former editor of “The New Statesman” in his book:

“THE RICH FROM SLAVES TO SUPER YACHTS: a 2,000-year history” has reminded each of them that the wealth of the richest billionaires, at £stg240 billion, is enough to wipe out extreme global poverty, four times over.  An entire chapter is devoted to the “egregious Mobutu Sese Seko, the Congolese dictator, who modelled himself on Louis XIV (of France).  A French minister nicknamed him “the walking bank vault with a leopard skin cap” because of the way he plundered the Congo’s resources and foreign aid during his rule from 1965 to 1997 (thirty-two years of self-indulgence for the dictator and utter misery for his victims).  His fortune hidden away in Swiss bank accounts topped US$5 billion in the 1980’s and when he finally lost power, there was only US$2,000 in the Central Bank’s vaults.  This son of a chambermaid built himself a dozen palaces, including Gbadolite, his answer to Versailles (in France), which cost US$100 million to build and US$15 million a year to keep in readiness.  Despite being in the jungle, a runaway long enough to accommodate Concorde was built.”

That was not all, when the Republic of Congo pestered the IMF and the World Bank for loans, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations whispered to Mobutu who had just addressed the General Assembly, that rather than delay matters further Mobutu should lend his country some of the money he had stashed away in Switzerland.  Mobutu was not amused.  He exploded with fury, not caring about the microphone which was still on:

“Me lend money to an African country?  No way.  What a crazy idea.  What if they don’t pay back?  Will I have to call in the United Nations, or the World Bank/International Monetary Fund to enforce judgement?”

Straight from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly he boarded the Concorde and headed back to Gbadolite to count his money and feed his crocodiles with his enemies (and chartered accountants).

The Seventy Senior Citizens were taken by surprise when the Secretary-General of the United Nations; the President of the World Bank and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund confided in us that they have a soft spot for Nigeria (especially Lagos).

According to the authentic account of Italian historian Jean-Batista Scala dated 13th January 1852:

“On 24th December 1851, the British colonial government launched a vicious attack on Lagos with canons and it took five days to subdue Lagos.   The city’s population was devastated on a scale that had never been seen before.   Only five thousand out of 30,000 survived five days of death and destruction.”

One hundred and sixty-three years afterwards the city is still in bondage.   So also is the rest of Nigeria. Here is a verbatim report of what the Secretary-General of the United Nations told us in strict confidence.

“INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT IN NIGERIA WORST EVER.”

“The number of people across the world who have been internally displaced is at its worst.

I hereby call on countries around the world to do more to prevent forced displacement, address its root causes and support solutions for those affected by it at a time of multiple crises.

Never before in United Nations history have we had so many refugees, displaced  people and asylum-seekers.   Never before has the United Nations been asked to reach so many with emergency food assistance and other life-saving support.

Some of the challenges are on the front pages.   Others are far from the headlines.  In Iraq and Syria, we see new depths of barbarity with each passing day, and devastating spillover effects across the region.

These include people fleeing from war and civil strife from the Central African Republic to northern Nigeria; from the Horn of Africa to the Sahel.  More than two million people have been forced to leave their homes this year.

The international community needs to pull together more than ever at a time when the world is facing so many challenges, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

This requires greater resources and more political leadership.  It also requires unprecedented cooperation by the international community.

Also, there is a need for an earlier and greater focus on human rights.

J.K Randle