BERTIE AHERN WAS in Nigeria giving the keynote speech at an investors’ forum as news of his resignation was confirmed by Fianna Fáil yesterday afternoon.
It has emerged that the former taoiseach was speaking to international investors in Ogun State in south-western Nigeria at a conference entitled ‘Ogun State: Open for Business’, a phrase used often by the current Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
His speech came on the same day his resignation from Fianna Fáil was confirmed following the party’s move to expel him in the wake of the Mahon tribunal findings that Ahern failed to truthfully account for payments worth IR£165,000 into bank accounts connected with him in the 90s.
His membership of the Washington Speakers’ Bureau (WSB) sees Ahern earn at least €30,000 every time he makes a speech according to the WSB website which notes: ”Bertie Ahern brought peace and political prominence to Ireland, creating a progressive strategy and blueprint for other countries of the world to follow.”
Ahern’s profile on the Ogun State website informs us: “During his tenure as prime minister, Ahern transformed Ireland from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the wealthiest.”
It notes that the period known as the ‘Celtic Tiger’ led to “an unprecedented rise in disposable income”, a dramatic fall in unemployment, a rise in the average industrial wage and continues:
Public debt was dramatically reduced while Ahern oversaw large investments in the modernization of cities and infrastructure. Ireland’s trend of emigration was reversed, and the Republic became a destination for immigrants, resulting in a population growth of 15 percent. Ahern’s initiatives and policies, including a reduction in corporate taxes that encouraged foreign investment, stimulated the dramatic growth.
The profile goes on to note Ahern’s other positions in government and his achievements with the Good Friday Agreement and as president of the European Council.
It also notes that his daugther Georgina is married to Nicky Byrne who is “a member of the popular band Westlife” and says that his other daughter, Cecilia, is the author of the best-selling novel P.S. I Love You which “was adapted into a movie starring Hilary Swank”.
Business Day, which carries a grainy picture of Ahern at the event Abeokuta, notes that the government in Ogun State has offered attractive discounts on land acquisitions which range from between 40 and 80 per cent for industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and community organisations.
“Ogun State being open for business is not a catchy slogan. We truly are open for business and in that regard, we want to be a catalyst to jump start development in certain key areas,” Governor Ibikunle Amosun is quoted as saying.
Hat tip to @ClementEsebamen for spotting this event yesterday afternoon.
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