Olamide Babatunde, Lagos
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Joel Nwagbara, former Secretary of the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations (1966-1967), presented his autobiography, ‘Divine Designs’, to the public. The book highlights issues of good health, inclusive governance, social justice and the sanctity of truth. Nwagbara, a pioneering staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), also used the event to critique the state of the national oil company.
The octogenarian, who served in the NNPC for 37 years, retiring following rule changes for public servants in 1997, described the Corporation as successful, yet still struggling to attain the heights of greatness. He said, “It is a great and successful, even if an imperfect, organisation. Many giant brains have worked there from the very beginning to make the NNPC great. But that true greatness will not come except and until political interference is completely taken out of NNPC affairs. The moral tone of its operating environment, Nigeria, would also have to considerably change for better.”
Ray Ekpu, Chief Executive Officer, MayFive Media – publishers of the book – in his remarks, described the ceremony as a ‘double -barrelled affair’. Nwagbara’s memoirs, he said, has at its centre the story of Nigeria.
“It is also the corporate story of Nigeria’s behemoth, the oil industry, which has produced wealth for some and woes for others, including what has come to be known as the ‘resource curse’ for the Niger Delta people in particular and Nigeria in general,” Ekpu, a veteran journalist, said.
He also linked the autobiography to the Biafran War “seen from the eyes of the author who was in the thick of it.”