sharply from the extravagance and emptiness that degrades national awards in Nigeria. For her competence, performance, humility, integrity and economic cum institutional reforms she brought about in governance in Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is now an icon. Her recognition is just a little reward for her towering contributions to the new Nigeria, which is gradually shedding the toga of a non-performing economy to that of an emerging market.
It is very easy to recall the achievements of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala while serving in the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. That in itself is remarkable. Often times, government functionaries need paid jobbers to unearth their achievements during their cyclical stay in public offices. Once out of office, a number of public officials disappear into oblivion or ignominy. Needless to say that such people stay on the job at all cost, offering no value.
Over the years, people who have contributed to running down the country have also received some of the highest honourary awards in the country. This awkward reward system had paralyzed the economy and seen to the near collapse of state institutions in Nigeria.
Okonjo-Iweala's first notable involvement with public service in Nigeria was her roles in helping the country harmonize information on her debt. Her selfless effort in this regard saw the establishment of the Debt Management Office. Later, as a Federal Minister, she was instrumental in formulating strategies for a successful negotiation of Nigeria's exit from the debt owed the Paris Club, saving the country US$18 billion in the process. This was given maximum effect with the sovereign credit ratings that followed. Fitchs Rating and Standards and Poors returned a BB- rating on Nigeria, thus signalling the re-emergence of Nigeria as a player in the global financial system.
The reforms introduced by this mother of four children who is happily married, but who nevertheless embraced the challenge of bringing the Nigerian economy from the dol-