When the call came on
September 13, 2013 to serve
the Nigerian people as DG
National Centre for Women
Development, I took it as a
call from God and I answered
in the affirmative.
I served for two years
and five months and did
my best under very difficult
conditions. We hardly had
money to operate and the place
was badly run down. Worst,
there was low morale and
lack of commitment among
the Staff. Most spent the
day loitering and gossiping.
Many would not show up for
work or arrive 11am, only to
leave before 3pm. Some were
absent for months and were
just collecting their salary at
My administration changed
all that. Most Staff were
turned around and became
passionate about the work;
appreciating also, the changes
they thought were not
possible but were happening
right before them.
There remained though,
a remnant who felt that the
Center was their personal
preserve and that the position
of Director General should
only go to someone from their
part of the country.
I was initially dismissed as
just a musician. When that
did not work, I was targeted
and abused for being an Igbo
woman who came to give
jobs to and elevate my people
while sidelining them. When
these detractors could not
provide answers to the spate
of improvement we were
bringing, they resorted to
sabotage and blackmail.
The first such salvo
was fired when a Senate
Committee visited on an
oversight mission a few
months after my arrival. All
three Generators at the Center
were cannibalised, overnight,
just hours to the visit.
We got over that incident
and trudged on. The
rest of our activities and
accomplishments, modest as
they are, is public knowledge.
I have never in my life been an
unfair person. I never favored
any group. I carried everybody
along. But I did not put up
with deliberate incompetence
and a refusal to learn, an
attitude of entitlement which
some people displayed.
We brought back a level
of professionalism and
commitment to deliver on
our mandate. Without these
attributes, the Center would
have fallen apart.
When the call came for
me to disengage from the
Center, I took it in good
faith and with thanksgiving
to the Almighty, Yes some
stakeholders were upset and
tried to make a case for me to
continue. Their effort was a
testimony of God’s grace on
my administration, but I also
knew that it was time to go.
God who sent me there was
taking me to a higher level of
service. His infinite wisdom is
unassailable. That is my faith.
Besides, I was exhausted
and had abandoned many
personal projects to devote
myself, 200 percent to the
centre. The abuses and lack
of cooperation from a mother
Ministry, from those who felt
that the centre overshadowed
them, to the extent that they
tried to discourage others from
working with us, were just
a bit much for my comfort. I
did not lobby for the job in the
first place and I was not going
to lobby to keep it. I actually
looked forward to leaving.
But some people were going
to exact their pound of flesh.
They organised some staff,
mostly northerners, invited
the press and set about to
disgrace themselves. By mid
afternoon, while the Heads
of Departments were putting
together the handover notes,
they seized the keys to my
official car, even with my
personal items still inside.
Threats began to fly. “That
Igbo woman must go,” “we
will disgrace her”. Their chief
organiser, the acting DG, went
about whipping up ethnic
sentiments against me. Late
2015, the same officer had
gone to the centre’s mosque
to ask for the issue of a Fatwa
against me, claiming that
I was working against the
interest of the North.
We nipped that in the
bud by calling a town hall
meeting and asking that proof
be provided. The Fatwa was
denied and peace reigned for
a while.
Police were called in to
the centre to escort me out
and avoid bloodshed as I
Eventually, in the midst
of insults and name calling,
with an angry baying crowd,
some of whom were brought
in from outside, I entered
my official car and left. At no
time during this melee did I
threaten to sue Mr. President
for asking me to disengage.
Why would I? Is it not within
his authority?
Even if it were not, is the
centre my personal property.
I had done my best and if it
was time to go, it was that
simple. Life continues. I had
a thriving career before my
appointment. The centre did
not make me. I have so much
to do. I am a multitalented,
multifaceted and multitasking
child of God. By His grace, the
future is greater. So what is
the problem?
Let me say here that the
Federal Government should
really look into the parastatals
and take note of the fact that
many people who work on
them do not have the requisite
qualification. Many contribute
nothing and many see their
job as personal entitlement.
They are owed because
Nigeria belongs to them
and them alone. Somehow,
these people were given the
impression that they could
attempt to do what they did
to me and nothing would
happen. That is very sad
indeed. The Ministry also has
a case to answer.
They helped to create that
impression. A situation where
the ministry could invite a
management staff to a trip
abroad without informing
the DG and the staff would
only inform her principal via
text message, from the airport
as she is leaving the country,
creates an atmosphere of
indiscipline and anything
goes. The Ministry should
restrain itself to its spelt out
function and not undermine
the authority of the DG.
Finally, I declare that I am a
Nigerian citizen who should
enjoy the rights attendant to
that privileged. I am Onyigbo
and proud of it. I respect
myself and I love and respect
all for who they are. We are all
God’s children. No one has
the right to insult or abuse me
or deprive me of my rights.
Nigeria will not hold unless
and until we all come to that
Thank you and God bless.
Being a statement by
popular musician, Onyeka
Onwenu, who was recently
disengaged as the Director
General of the National Centre
for Women Development

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