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Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria Hardcover – September 21, 2012
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This insider's account of the valiant attempt to reform Nigeria's economy will inspire anyone committed to changing the course of their country.(Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, 2001)
This extremely informative and thought-provoking book provides a masterful account of the interplay of technical economic management and political will constrained by vested interest in undertaking transformative reforms in developing countries. Every page speaks to the Liberian experience in microcosm. This will be required reading by the Cabinet and students in our institutions of higher learning. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala remains a courageous champion for sound economic management and performance.(Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia)
An important book which incisively reveals what the real barriers to development are, and the political constraints to removing them. Inspiring and compulsory reading for development scholars and practitioners.(James Robinson, David Florence Professor of Government, Harvard University)
Just as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala forces open budget processes, these pages force open our eyes to the complexities of political life in Nigeria. Throughout her incarnations as the corruption cop, finance minister, tough decision maker, and managing director she has been and remains a great friend and an inspiring mentor. This is an essential guidebook for reformers everywhere.(Bono)
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Before reading the book, I was aware of the many government abuses and corrupt practices that took place in Nigeria, but Minister Okonjo-Iweala outlined these abusive practices with stories and numbers in such a way that I came away with a greater appreciation for what and how it was being done. Her description of methods that dictators and government officials used to line their pockets was beautiful in its simplicity. After reading the book I understood the way in which Nigeria's state, local and Federal governments function and the obstacles presented on that structure by the very constitution on which it is built. I also learned how Nigeria's debt came into being and how it was allowed to spiral out of control. Later I was made privy to the determined, and later, the intense and frenetic actions that led to the second largest debt forgiveness by the Paris Club.
Yet, considering the breadth of reforms Minster Okonjo-Iweala and her team took on with their homegrown National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), I was extremely surprised by the level of success that her team achieved. Understanding, how difficult it is to bring about change in any society, let alone a democratic society where the elite has a real interest in maintaining the status quo, I kept wanting to get a more detailed account of the difficulties that were encountered by the Minister's economic team if only to set expectations for future reformers.Read more ›
I want to wish her the best of luck, she will need it.
A great deal of the book is technocratic. There are few accounts of dramatic meetings or personal confrontations; heavy on the policy choices. However -- her biggest challenge is corruption. And corruption always has a beneficiary. Nigeria's larcenous class fought hard. Okonjo-Iweala does mention the political side: seeking support from the people of Nigeria and from the elected President. And she frankly acknowledges the role of politics in supporting or hindering reform.
One of the worst problems is that previous generations of international loans went to kleptocratic rulers who simply stole much of it, leaving the current government with a very difficult debt problem and little popular support for paying off the old loans or ever borrowing any more money.
The author focuses the entire book on her experiences in Nigeria. However, a great deal of the problems and solutions are universal. If your government has borrowed money that it can't pay back -- if your public payroll is bloated by decades of sweetheart deals -- if a business person can't get a loan, or can't get the permits they need, without political juice -- then you've got the same problems. May your President and your Finance Minister read this book, and may you hold them accountable for honest government.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book lacking in depth. The author focused on high level stories that anyone paying little attention to news would know. Not worth the money. Read morePublished 18 months ago by fos
Excellent read, detailed insight, and full of initiative. Wonderful work by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. All Aspiring to lead their countries should read this book.Published 19 months ago by ikenna madubuike
This book was a present for a male person who should learn more about the state of Nigeria being related to a Nigerian woman he met in Germany.Published 22 months ago by "Mohnblume Ha"
This is an incredibly compelling story especially for a policy book. Ngozi writes from her perspective, which gives the reader some insight into how difficult the reform process... Read morePublished on March 30, 2013 by Jessica Elaine Smith