How can Africa produce Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala?
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Profiles - June 30, 2021

How can Africa Produce more Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealas?

With the scale of issues Nigeria and other African nations are battling at the moment; from insecurity to inept leadership, corruption to escalated poverty,  there is no doubt that the continent’s corporate image is in the mud. Thankfully, there are extraordinary African achievers, like Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who are shining the light and refining Africa’s global outlook.

Okonjo-Iweala has achieved incredible feats that could be considered unwomanly, but her greatness is proof that more great women can arise from the African continent. She is the first female finance minister, the first female foreign affairs minister, and the first female and black candidate to contest for the presidency of the World Bank Group.

Okonjo-Iweala initiated processes, spearheaded programs and initiatives that helped tackle corruption and restored investors’ interest and faith in Nigeria, thereby creating jobs. Her wealth of experience in the Nigerian government led to the release of one of her books, ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous’ in 2018. 

Having served in such a capacity without a scandal, in a country with leaders riddled with corruption charges, Okonjo-Iweala had proved herself as not just a woman to look out for, but as one to emulate. Her voice and personality speak that it is possible to stand for integrity, regardless of the loopholes prevalent in a system. Such women should be honoured; their praises should not fade; their good records and achievements should not just be chronicled in the good books of history but also adopted as an inspiration to future generations. Ngozi is a treasured asset, not just to Nigeria, but to the world. 

Africa needs more women like Okonjo-Iweala to flip the narrative and inspire that movement to rise to our full potential as a continent richly blessed with natural and human resources.

Raising the next Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealas

It is easy for anyone to claim that Dr. Ngozi was privileged by birth, being born into the Obahai Royal family of Ogwashi-Ukwu, and her parents, Chukwuka and Kamene Okonjo, being both professors at the University of Ibadan. However, success is not a consequence of privileges without personal resolve. Privileges may have been there, but Dr. Ngozi’s success is more of her decision to influence change, than royalty wielding things in her favour. Royalty did not vote her into her current position as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), hard work, resilience, and courage did. So, if you are looking forward to being one of the next Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealas, here are a few tips for what to consider:

I. Be focused: Focus is setting your eyes on the prize, not the price. It helps you to stay on course after you’ve defined your destination. There is a lot of distractions out there. From the seemingly little things like social media bantering that saps your gusto, to other misplaced priorities. But focus shows you the most important things and helps you stay on them. ‘The successful warrior is the average man with a laser-like focus’ – Bruce Lee. 

ALSO READ: 10 African Women who Are Calling the Shots in Tech

II. Choose your circle wisely: You can never rise above your circle of friends. When you continue to meddle with people who major in the minors and minor in the majors, you will surely become like them. You can only learn to soar if you associate with eagles. Choose your friends; don’t let your friends choose you. Your friends should influence you to become better, not complement your mediocrity or you theirs.. Thomas J. Watson said, “Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up…”

Read the entire piece in our latest issue below. Find it on page 42.



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