Ngozi’s double-speak

PHOTO: Adeniyi Odeleye, stepupnigeria.blogspot.com

PHOTO: Adeniyi Odeleye, stepupnigeria.blogspot.com

Still on planning or failing to plan for the rainy day reminds me of the famous words of wisdom patented, I suppose, by some economic guru, but which I think is plainly commonsensical enough even for the uninitiated to know: it says those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Put in the common man’s language, nothing in life happens by happenstance. It is all planned. In our own environment, even the things we call accidents are planned. Road accidents are planned to happen by the recklessness of bad drivers aided by bad roads that have been planned to be bad by corruption, fuelled by desire to cut corners and make quick money.

Examples are legion but we should content ourselves with the most odious of them, that is the inability of leaders to plan the economic, social and political architecture of our national life in such a way that we put something away for the rainy days, the days of hardship when to eke out a living becomes well-nigh impossible for a majority of the people.

President Muhammadu Buhari has not missed any opportunity to keep harping on the iniquities of some past leaders, which iniquities have brought us to this pass, where the country is down on its knees, with visible darkness at noon, with unending fuel shortages and long queues at petrol filling stations, rising unemployment and youth restiveness, day light robberies and kidnapping. When you throw in the horrific menace of some criminals masquerading as cattle herdsmen, who, apparently in search of grazing land for their cattle, raze down a whole community with colossal waste of human lives, then you would appreciate that there is indeed a price to pay for our egregious short sightedness, ineptitude and planlessness.

It was not always like this. “In the First Republic,” said the President some weeks back, “more enduring infrastructures were built with meagre resources. But in the past 16 years, we made a lot of money without planning for the rainy day. We showed a lot of indiscipline in managing our economy and that is why we are where we are today.”

A self-obvious truth that does not require any corroboration. But if any was required, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, was on hand to lend a voice. In the past, she said, obviously referring to the PDP years in office, “we had the means but not the will. Now we have the will but we no longer have the means to invest.” For those who may wish to take the present administration to the cleaners for harping too much on the past and apparently using it as an alibi for not fulfilling the APC manifesto all in only one year, it may be necessary to complete the narrative of the plundering of riches in the last 16 years and understand the impact that this wastefulness has had on the ability of the Buhari Administration to bring the dividends of its change mantra to the doorsteps of the average Nigerian.

And there is nobody to complete this narrative better than the major economic player of the time under whose watch the locusts descended on the national patrimony. I am referring the one and only Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and former Minister of Finance. She had the distinction of serving as two time Minister of Finance, first under President Olusegun Obasanjo and the last one under President Jonathan Goodluck. While reacting to those who were bent on crucifying her for being a bad economic manager, Okojo-Iweala sprang to her feet, standing her five feet plus, in defence of her stewardship.

In an interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, Okonjo-Iweala said all her efforts to save money for the rainy day were frustrated by the governors. He did not have problem with President Goodluck Jonathan who, in fact, agreed with her, that it made sense to save. But the president did not have the Obasanjo muscle to stand up to the governors. During the Obasanjo era, in her own words, “we established a stabilisation mechanism and opened an account for oil surplus which posted up to $22 billion. In 2008 when prices fell from 148 to 38 dollars a barrel no one heard about Nigeria because the country was able to tap into this fund.”

While we look forward we must not forget where we are coming from if we must correct the mistakes of the past and guard against repeating it. It is in this vein, the Buhari administration, in my view, has not stopped reminding us about the profligacy of the past administration

But when she returned to service under Goodluck Jonathan, in 2011, the story had changed. While the nation was making a lot money from oil, the account had been depleted to just $4 billion. Though the President agreed that the government should save money, he did not match his words with enough force and the political will to do so. What I found baffling in this whole sordid episode is the volte face of Okonjo-Iweala, the woman I credited with enough gravitas. The day after she had spoken the truth about Jonathan’s inability to hold his ground, the World Bank whiz-kid changed the story and indulged in a disrespectful double-speak. In a statement correcting or explaining her earlier position, she said she was “referring to the strong opposition by some governors to the Jonathan government’s efforts to save in the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund sabotaged this important national priority.”

Jonathan was willing but the governors were not willing. Jonathan was not at fault, it was the recalcitrant governors who were at fault. In fact, to get our sympathy she went on to narrate how she suffered a lot of attacks from the governors. Hear her: “If Nigeria had been more careful we would not be here today. It hurts me. We had the mechanism, we had the experience, but we were prevented to act.” Okonjo Iweala is free to join Jonathan’s spin doctors but she should know the limit of deceit.

What point is she making? Has she forgotten that the Governors Forum under Rotimi Ameachi discovered that the Jonathan Administration was depleting the Excess Crude Account to the peril of the federating units? Since the governors could not stop him from doing so, they started to press for their own share of the allocation from the excess crude account. Has madam coordinating minister forgotten so soon?

By the way, did Okonjo-Iweala recover the loan of $322 million she granted the former National Security Adviser from Sani Abacha loot which she said was at the instance of her Principal, former President Goodluck Jonathan? The money, she said, was requested for by Sambo Dasuki for urgent operational reason and the President was quick to approve it. And the wise World Bank expert turned it into a loan that had to be recovered as soon as possible.

While we look forward we must not forget where we are coming from if we must correct the mistakes of the past and guard against repeating it. It is in this vein, the Buhari administration, in my view, has not stopped reminding us about the profligacy of the past administration.

The Punch editorial last Monday put it succinctly: “A country must confront the mistakes of the past to correct them and build a better future than the mess Jonathan and his team bequeathed. There is enough blame to go round: the governors may have been right on the constitutional ground that all revenues accruing to the federation be shared among the three tiers of government, but they are paying the price for it today, as the drastic fall in revenue has left them with no buffers and 27 states owing staff salaries.”



37 Comments
  • christopher

    rubbish article

    • Baba Ijebu

      Indeed, that’s what it is to you, goosh.

      • Femi Hassan

        It’s an extremely rubbish article. The writer clearly prevaricated some details to buttress his baseless point.

        • Bolaji Johnson

          Yes o, tell them that we need to do things that are right instead of doing the things that we need to do for our country to move forward. We keep on doing things that others just want to talk aboout. We need to get things right for once at ;least. Thank you

  • mmadukaudegbune

    The Punch editorial captured in the last paragraph is far more sensible, informative and educating than the trash spewed out by Yakubu Mohammed. While Jonathan believed in enforcing the rule of law, Obasanjo did not. And rather than that counting against Jonathan, it should earn him respect not condemnation because that is a good attribute for a democrat that he is.

    • Diamond Nivax

      Rule of law is spending/stealing recovered Abacha $322 million loot without appropriation? Give me a break! Which law permits Jona (the clueless one) to unilaterally deplete the Excess Crude Account co-owned by the states and LGAs? I wonder what kind of democrat a person would be when all he succeeded in doing is stealing all that belong to the people.

      • mmadukaudegbune

        Some background, please: The ECA was depleted because the governors insisted that the money be shared rather than be saved for the ‘rainy day’ as suggested by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The governors relied on the Supreme Court verdict that granted their request for the FG to do so. Mr Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State confirmed this when he said that NOI advised them (the governors) to save the ECA money for their respective states. That was why, according to Peter Obi, he saved Anambra’s share and was able to hand it over to his successor, Willie Obiano in Dollars and Euros. And this, in my view, was why Anambra State did not apply for the bail out funds from FG in 2015 like Osun, Edo, Imo and other states did.

        So (1) Jonathan is not clueless, at least from where I stand. (2) Jonathan did not ‘unilaterally deplete the ECA co-owned by the states and LGAs’. (3) Jonathan as far as I know did not succeed in ‘stealing all that belongs to the people’ as you adduced above. Probably you must have some incriminating evidence to support your assertion. But why not furnish the EFCC with your evidence to enable prosecution since Buhari’s government is highly interested in recovering stolen funds no matter who is involved? You may even appear as a key witness when Jonathan’s day comes up in court.

        Now this: talking about appropriation and all that, where was the money that Buhari and his government have been spending since 1st January 2016 appropriated? In which budget? Take note that as at today 28th April, the 2016 Budget has not been signed by Buhari.

        • Diamond Nivax

          First, it is constitutional for the president to be spending not more than six months into the year before a new budget is passed. So it is within the rights of Buhari to continue to spend 2015 budget while the new budget is passed into law.
          It is noteworthy that you acknowledged that Peter Obi saved his state’s share of ECA. But you failed to interrogate your jaundiced mind further by asking why the clueless one (Jonathan) failed to save the federal government share of the fund.
          I would await you to furnish us with the details of any supreme court judgement authorising the disbursement of ECA fund. We may need the date and possibly, the link to verify.
          You may no longer need me to testify and give evidence for the wicked and wanton destruction of our patrimony by Goodluck (with him there is nothing like Badluck) and his profligate gang. Nigerians are already numbed by the daily nauseating revelations of how he raped this country through his liutenants and PDP cronies. Even before the advent of Buhari government I was already certain that the ship called Nigeria has become rudderless and heading to precipice.

          • Izonebi

            Meanwhile the Federal Government controlled 52.7% of that fund, but we must blame the states who together did not control upto 30% of the money. Anybody who takes Okonjo-Iweala serious at this point needs to have their heads examined.

          • Salome Mohammed

            Yes the states MUST be blamed and the governors in particular are the main culprits. It was their greed that has made it next to impossible for two-thirds of the states to be able to pay salaries now.

          • Bolaji Johnson

            Cool, nice talk. I thing it is cheap way of moving the blames that we have now. It is not the things we need at such a point as this. Let’s get things right, address the issues and move forward instead of doing things wrong. Nigeria must move forward. Thank you

          • mmadukaudegbune

            Some rudimentary housekeeping sweepstakes, please: Abuses and insults are not and have never been criticisms, just like raw emotions no matter how rudely expressed are different from facts. Like bats among birds, they ever fly by twilight.

            You may wish to ask the supreme court for details pertaining to ECA judgements. Alternatively, any of the ex-governors could help you. Am sorry I can not be of further help.

            The rest of your write-up is just an opinion which you are entitled to express, so I leave it at that.

          • Diamond Nivax

            Thank you for realising that it is never a good thing to engage in macabre dance of shame especially when one knows that the preponderance of his audience are his kindred. At least you are different from many others who insist on arguing against obvious facts. For accepting the ignobility of defending the indefensible I welcome you into the folks of decent and conscionable men.

          • mmadukaudegbune

            ”Thank you for realising that it is never a good thing to engage in macabre dance of shame especially when one knows that the preponderance of his audience are his kindred”

            HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THIS CONCLUSION? PLEASE RE-VISIT MY LAST REPLY AND REFLECT DEEPLY ON IT.

            ”At least you are different from many others who insist on arguing against obvious facts”

            THIS IS NOT NECESSARY; BETTER LEFT OUT THAN INCLUDED

            ”For accepting the ignobility of defending the indefensible I welcome you into the folks of decent and conscionable men”

            AGAIN, I ASK: HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THIS CONCLUSION? PLEASE RE-VISIT MY LAST REPLY AND REFLECT DEEPLY ON IT.

            And this is the last I will say about it all.

  • Ujay

    This writer forgot that Jonathan was once a governor and it was their support that gave him the presidency. And that he did his best with the governors support until Amechi’s madness started. When you blame Jonathan please give him his credit.

    • Bolaji Johnson

      The way it is now, people are looking for every posible means to get peoples attention and get unnecessary attention. It is not what I want to be hearing again. Let’s stop using Okonjo Iweala’s name for fraud. You need to get thing right instead of arousing peoples anger. Let’s look for ways to move the country forward instead of going the way we have been doing.

  • Mazi JO

    Your last paragraph refers; the blame should rest squarely at the Executive Desk. It hurts badly how the Full Faith And Credit of the Federal Government was derailed by the patsy State Governors in this matter particularly when they shared the funds and had nothing to show for the disbursements.

  • emmanuel kalu

    if Nigeria is to progress we need to stop this useless and unnecessary blame game. The country wasn’t destroyed in 16 years. The destruction has started long ago, enough of blaming GEJ for the problem that country has. yes they looted, but it was not in the last 16 years that looting started. we have enough blame game to last a life time. now it is time for action. saving is not only done in time of plenty, It is a culture that must be practice even in lean times. we are tired of the blame game with no action.

    • Bolaji Johnson

      Blame game never takes us anywhere. Where have you heard that it worked. I havent seen it anywhere if you ask me. we need to be innovative in our thinking and make our country work instead of going the part way we are going.

  • Femi Hassan

    Dr Iweala disbursed $322 million to Dasuki to prosecute the war against Boko Haram under presidential instruction. And she was ABSOLUTELY within her rights and duties to do that. The way the money was diverted by the former NSA was not her’s to investigate but that of the EFCC which they did. So this aim at bringing her down WILL fail.

  • Bolaji Johnson

    So what’s now the point of all these. People just like disturbing others.It has come a long way. I don’t seem to understand why it is the way it is. People should go and look for better ways to do things other than making things look big. It is not what we want jare. Dont disturb my sleep again okay. *going back to sleep* Go and learn how to write please.

  • Ken Ajayi

    A lot of beating around the bush.
    Dear Yakubu, you do not have to join the group of uninformed people who have harped on Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s statement to discredit her and say things that are baseless or not founded on concrete facts.
    Please, I’d advise you to desist from this.
    If you have a solution for the economic situation, kindly share with us and Nigeria at large.
    One more question, please, how does your article affect the price of fuel in Nigeria?

  • Rowland Williams

    Yakubu Mohammed, YOU ARE A FOOL!!! It is OBVIOUS that you did not step the corridor of any school at all. Your destiny is so stinking, rotten and stenched! But you don’t know. A dumb idiot and a hopeless NONENTITY that you truly are has finally blindfolded your Maggot-brain…. But you don’t know. You should be ashamed of yourself for this your illiterate comment! You are an Incongruous Pelican. Your foul mouth is Cranish! Your knowledge bank, rationality, inteligibility, saying that it is below a GCE Applicant is purely an euphemism. You who wrote this STILT you call Article, are suffering from Down Syndrome and Polio combined- and that was what propelled what you wrote. I strongly recommend you need an urgent medical attention. You should be totally enstranged from the midst of rational and intelligent thinkers……..  Who else possesses Dr Iweala’s Credibility, Capacity and Capability? That woman vigorously fought for Nigeria’s both present and future financial prudence! The corrupt Politicians are brain-washing you with all they are spreading about her. We love you Dr Ngozi Iweala! God bless Nigeria!

  • Rowland Williams

    Your brain is full of maggots Yakubu Mohammed, YOU ARE A FOOL!!! Is Okonjo the source of your problems, headache, heartaches and all the misfortunes of your generation? Secondly, how has your thinking changed anything for good in Nigeria? How has your thinking SOLVED THE FUEL CRISES? Mumu! Idiot tha you are! Rotten Egg! Dindinrin!!! It is OBVIOUS that you did not step the corridor of any school at all. Your destiny is so stinking, rotten and stenched! But you don’t know. A dumb idiot and a hopeless NONENTITY that you truly are has finally blindfolded your Maggot-brain…. But you don’t know. You should be ashamed of yourself for this your illiterate comment! You are an Incongruous Pelican. Your foul mouth is Cranish! Your knowledge bank, rationality, inteligibility, is dumb! You who wrote this STILT you call Article, are suffering from Down Syndrome and Polio combined- and that was what propelled what you wrote. I strongly recommend you need an urgent medical attention. You should be totally enstranged from the midst of rational and intelligent thinkers……..  Who else possesses Dr Iweala’s Credibility, Capacity and Capability? That woman vigorously fought for Nigeria’s both present and future financial prudence! The corrupt Politicians are brain-washing you with all they are spreading about her. We love you Dr Ngozi Iweala!

  • Seye Tiamiyu

    This act of blaming Dr Okonjo Iweala just because she showed interest in the affairs of the country should stop. How many leaders after they leave the office bother to comment not to talk of give advice on how the country would become better? Okonjo Iweala said the truth as she knows it, she deserves to be appreciated not insulted or doubted.

  • Kemisola Robert

    This seems like another article sponsored by Dr Okonjo Iweala’s enemies. It is devoid of facts and filled with baseless accusations. Dr Okonjo Iweala is a credible woman and your attempt to probe her into something she is innocent of will fail.In fact, it is obvious that this article has a sinister motive and as a result, should be ignored.

  • Michael

    The Buhari government really needs to see beyond the former president’s profligacy like Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala rightly stated if it is ready to scale through the present economic crisis as well as achieve tangible results. We have often heard that anyone who holds on to the past can never progress nor prosper. Nigerians are particularly tied of the back and forth, not to talk of the endless blame game, I will echo Okonjo-Iweala’s counsel, it is time to move on!

  • Michael

    This writer has deliberately used fake facts to deviate from the current financial realities we are currently battling with as a nation. By the way, how does the former minister of finance work border on the many challenges the Buhari government is yet to find solution to? It goes to show how this government would rather focus on the past rather than face the future.

  • Afeez

    Like you rightly highlighted, Madam Okonjo-Iweala had the rare priviledge to serve as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy
    and former Minister of Finance. I put it to you that this was the best decision President Jonathan made; to have appointed Okonjo-Iweala. Her contributions and discipline saved this nation from a whole lot of economic disgrace.

  • Afeez

    I concur to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s synopsis on the present state of the economy. If and only if our governors, led by Rotimi Ameachi had been patient enough to allow the Ministry of Finance save in the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund, we would be swimming in wealth as a nation by now.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    Nigerians should always thank God for the person of the immediate past finance and coordinating minister of the economy, Dr Okonjo-Iweala for utilising her expertise in the service of this country when she served under both former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. It shows she is embodiment of knowledge.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    I can say confidently that those accusing Dr Okonjo-Iweala for allegedly bad managing the economy cannot manage their own family issues. They should allow her enjoy the peace of life.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    Dr Okonjo-Iweala is one of the former finance ministers Nigeria produced who did everything within her powers to ensure that the nation’s economy remains sound and standing.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    If indeed Nigeria did not save money when president Goodluck Jonathan held sway, why should Dr Okonjo-Iweala be blamed for this? The thieving governors should be held responsibly and kudos should be given to madam Okonjo-Iweala for a job well done.

  • Ikechukwu Benneth

    The author of this article should be disregarded completely because what he has done is to massively confuse Nigerians and attempt to cause hatred for Dr Okonjo-Iweala who should be worshipped.

  • Wordchamp

    The writer of this article is simply an attention seeker. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made a statement that was twisted to say what she did not say. She issued a statement to reaffirm what she said. How do you call that doublespeak?

  • Segun Adeniyi said he does not read comments after his article and some were up in arms. Take a look at the comments so far and maybe you can understand why authors should just say their piece and walk away. How does an author respond to the foregoing without ending up in the gutter with them?

Related