THE ROLE MODEL SERIES & MENTORING
DR. SARAH OMOTUNDE ALADE — A WOMAN OF HIGH FORTITUDE
ONE OF NIGERIA’S ‘’HIDDEN RESOURCES’’ REDISCOVERE
Dr. (Mrs) Sarah Omotunde Alade’s appointment as Special Adviser on Finance and the Economy with her office domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is significant in some respects. First, Omotunde Alade is coming in with a huge wealth of experience in the financial services sector spanning over 30 years. In the second instance, her appointment is a boost to women empowerment given the importance of women to societal development. Thirdly, the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a square peg in a square hole will join other top economists to play the roles of Economic Advisers to the President.
Next, this appointment also addresses the issue of perceived marginalization of women in the scheme of things in Nigeria. A UNDP Report titled: ‘Africa Human Development Report 2016’ released by the United Nations Development Programme indicates that ‘’The pervasive gender gap in economic activities is constraining the African continent from achieving its full economic potential, averages a loss of about $95 billion annually or $580 billion in sub-Saharan Africa since 2010.’’ Other obstacles identified are: ‘’deeply-rooted structural obstacles including unequal distribution of resources, power and wealth, combined with social institutions and norms that sustain inequality, that are holding African women, and the rest of the continent, back. The report further observed that African women achieve only 87 per cent of the human development outcomes of men, and hold 66 per cent of all jobs in the non-agricultural informal sector but only make 70 cents for each dollar made by men. It also stated that only between seven and 30 per cent of all private firms have female managers.
PROFILE: Dr. Sarah Omotunde Alade was born in Offa, Kwara State over 60 years ago. Her last appointment on Nigeria’s Public Sector, when she functioned as acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on 20th February, 2014. Many people had looked forward to Sarah Alade’s upgrading as CBN based on her cognate experiences, versatility, an uncompromising expert in financial matters and her principles of unwavering and unbending commitment to her duties. She never got the appointment but left with her head unbowed at the CBN later accused of shortcomings and administrative lapses. At various times, she served as Deputy Governor (Economic Policy), Central Bank of Nigeria and other departments, having risen through the ranks as an insider.
Sarah Alade attended the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) where she obtained a B.Sc (Hons) degree in Economics in 1976. She also obtained an M.Comm degree at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia in 1983 and a Ph.D Management Science (Operations Research), from the University of Ilorin in 1991. commenced her working career in 1977 with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ilorin, Kwara State. In 1991, she joined the University of Ilorin as a Lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Finance.
CBN CAREER: She joined the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1993 as an Assistant Director in the Research Department where she served as Head, State Government Finance Office (1993-1996), Head, Federal Government Finance Office (1996-2000) and Head, Fiscal Analysis Division (2000-2004) . Alade served on the CBN teams on major economic policy studies, and was involved in the preparation of Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary and Credit Policy Proposals for several years. She was also an active resource person actively in the drafting of the Medium Term Economic Programme (MTP) for Nigeria and the IMF staff Monitored Programme/Standby Arrangement.
Her profile sourced from the CBN’s website indicates that Dr. Alade was appointed Director, Banking Operations Department in May 2004. In that capacity, she served as Chairman Board of Directors, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) as well as Secretary, National Payments System Committee (NPSC). Sarah was a member of the Technical committee of the Vision 2010 and currently a member of the Technical Committee of Vision 2020 and member of the National Economic Management Team (EMT). As Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr. Mrs. Alade superintends over the Economic Policy Directorate, comprising the Research, Monetary Policy, Trade and Exchange, Statistics Departments and Financial Markets Department.
As Chair of the Monetary Policy Implementation Committee (MPIC), she interfaces with operational departments and coordinates technical inputs for the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). Dr. Alade, who is a member of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES), has several publications to her credit and is currently carrying out research into Interest Rate Policy and Monetary Policy Implementation in Nigeria. Dr. Mrs. Alade is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Operational Research. She was married and has children.
IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The importance of Nigeria to the economy of Africa cannot be underemphasized. As the most populous country in Africa and the entire black world, Nigeria is perceived as the “giant” of Africa, and the potential leader of the black race. Nigeria’s economy constitutes 76 per cent of the economy of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. Nigeria also holds 30 per cent of the economy in sub-Saharan Africa and 21 per cent of Africa’s economy, and is the largest economy in Africa. The UNDP Report cited earlier, focuses on ‘Accelerating Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Africa’ indicates that gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa an average of $95 billion annually, peaking at $105 billion in 2014; or six per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to the Report, this is jeopardizing the continent’s efforts at achieving inclusive human development and economic growth. The Report proposes the solutions as including: ‘’addressing the contradiction between legal provisions and practice in gender laws; breaking down harmful social norms and transforming discriminatory institutional settings; and securing women’s economic, social and political participation’’.
NIGERIA’S NEXT LONG RANGE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
It is suspected that Sarah Alade has been brought in to work on Nigeria’s recently announced policy on long range visioning and planning that will produce the a fine National Development Plan. It is often said, and wisely too, that, “no one plans to fail, but many fail to plan.” This is exactly what is happening in most countries in Africa today. Let me use Nigeria as a veritable example. When the British Empire was in control of the politics and the economy of Nigeria, it encouraged and instituted “Development Plans” for the economy. The first was the Ten-Year Development and Welfare Plan, 1946-55; followed by 1955-60-62. When Nigeria became independent in 1960, it still continued with the 1962-68, 1970-75, 1975-80, and 1980-85 Development Plans, but with diminishing commitments to planning.
According to late Prof. Sam Aluko, an authority in his field as an economist, he Colonial Plans were mainly designed to ensure a more coordinated harnessing of the vast Nigerian natural resources for British interests, manufactures, and commerce. Marketing Boards were established for cocoa, rubber, palm produce, cotton, and groundnuts, among others, and Government Corporations were established for the vast mineral resources of Nigeria, for energy, and, later for petroleum oil.
SOLUTIONS TO ECONOMIC PROBLEMS: Prof. Sam Aluko in one of his papers had suggested that: ‘’Nigeria, like Africa, must return to itself: find its own views; chart a different economic path from deregulation, privatization, globalization, and liberalization, and use its government as the main engine of growth through planning and control of its exchange rate, its rates of interest, and the pursuit of full employment for its citizens, by mobilizing both the public sector and subsidizing the private sector in that direction. Otherwise, the new slavery emerging in Nigeria will be worse than that of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries’ slavery in Africa.
REJECT IMF/WORLD BANK’S REFORMS: Sam Aluko also suggested that: ‘’Nigeria and Africa must pursue a new and different program of economic reform from the current prescriptions of the IMF/World Bank and their Western collaborators. In order to achieve a modicum of economic growth that will meet the aspirations of Nigeria, and of Africa, a Marshall-type program for Europe, and, preferably a Franklin Delano Roosevelt type of economic recovery program for the United States., must be formulated, adopted and executed. Otherwise, the dichotomy between the rich and the poor in Africa will intensify, increase the simmering and growing tensions, crises, and wars in Africa. Such a situation will increase the conflict between Africa and the West. Just as a country cannot remain at peace, half-slave and half-free, so the world cannot remain over-developed and under-developed, and hope to have and sustain peace’’
Given the importance of having a National Economic Plan in place, Dr Sarah Omotunde Alade, in her new office will, all things being equal work closely with the Hon. Minister and Minister of State for Finance, Budget & Economic Planning; the National Economic Management Team of which she is likely to be made a member; the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters domiciled in the Office of the Vice-President; and the Debt Management Office, among other sensitive government agencies.
CONGRATULATIONS NIGERIAN WOMEN: THE NATION’S HIDDEN RESOURCES: A study conducted by the British Government in 2012, identifies Nigerian women as ‘’the nation’s hidden resources’’, stressing that “Investing in women and girls now will increase productivity in this generation and will promote sustainable growth, peace and better health for the next generation.” The Report showcased how Nigerian women and girls are disadvantaged by gender disparities in the most important aspects of livelihood and well-being. Studies have shown that the fact that women do not have same productive resources as men and most work of women goes unrecognized. According to the United Nations, of the three quarters of all economic activities in developing countries ascribed to men, women actually perform 53 percent of the work featuring prominently in the informal sectors of most economies in Africa.
SENATOR BIODUN OLUJIMI: In commending the PMB administration for appointing Sarah Alade into his government, let us never lose sight of the fact that she got the position on merit, and not entirely because she is a woman. Women must struggle with men for prominent appointments. In a related development, Terrific Headlines celebrates Senator Biodun Olujim for proving her worth and mettle. Our common friend and colleague, Folu Olamiti has a pet name for this rugged politician, Biodun since their days at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, that got carried over to the Nigeria Television, Ibadan. She is a fine example of a courageous woman who never yielded any inch to her male colleagues in journalism when it came to fighting for individual rights. In Ibadan 40 years ago, no male colleague could intimidate her. So, congratulations to our own dear Biodun Christine Olujimi, her husband and children as her colleagues from both Sides look forward to welcoming her again as a Senator of the Federal Republic.
WOMEN; PRESS FOR REVERSAL OF ROLES: I once ‘’engineered’’ or ‘’ instigated’’ professional women on this channel to refuse to be cheerleaders during electioneering campaigns. Women should tell men to play that role while they go for elective and appointive positions. However, women must prove their worth. I doubt if women in the advanced countries asked for concessions to occupy sensitive positions in government and corporate organizations. They vied on account of their abilities. Let’s go through this list: Indira Gandhi, third Prime Minister of India defeated her fellow male contestant; Sirima Bandaranaike was Prime Minister of Sri Lanka; Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, who won the Mo Ibrahim prize for good governance in Africa; Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner; Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed of Bangladesh; former Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff; Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt; and Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. Hillary Clinton was United States Secretary of State and almost became the first female President of the United States. She never relied on gender to push her case but competence and ability to deliver.
LAST LINE — NOT EVERY NIGERIAN HAS A PRICE: I read Segun Adeniyi’s penetrating piece on the closure of Nigerian borders and felt there was nothing to add to that illuminating piece published in Thisday newspaper last week. If our brothers and sisters on the West coast of Africa and other parts of the world could be complicit in working against our interests economically, the federal government and its agencies that are tackling this issue must have our support and commendation. Seized goods with value of N2.4 trillion is a lot and is one-quarter of the Year 2020 budget of the federal government of Nigeria. There might be some bad eggs, in terms of value like we have even in the developed world. Some foreign companies reportedly believe that every Nigeria could be bought and plan their strategies to come and ‘’purchase’’ every soul. So, they come to attempt to corrupt Nigerians and turn round to call Nigerians corrupt people. From what I have heard and read, Col. Hammed Ali, Comptroller-General of Customs apparently has no price and cannot be influenced.
Similarly, let us commend other agencies of government for their tenacity of purpose. The trend shows that we have several honest Nigerians and that Nigeria could be reformed with the right approach and social development programmes. It is good that appropriate agencies of government like the Federal Ministry of Justice, EFCC and ICPC now go after foreigners that hurt Nigeria’s economy. Let us support these agencies through positive reflection in the media. Let us also commend efforts at confronting those horrible incidents of young Nigerians held hostages discovered in some States in the country. Those are very heartless incidents as viewed on television. Let us also complement the efforts of NAPTIP through public enlightenment. This is about the today and tomorrow of our society, particularly the young ones. Parents and stakeholders must cooperate to combat all these horrible vices for the common good.