Still on Okonjo-Iweala and Controversial Appointments

Written by yashuaib

ngozi_okonjo_iweala (2)I still wonder how the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and the Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is in the eye of the storm. Her grandiose title is not a mere tautology as some people will assume. Being the first holder of that title in Nigeria’s history, her position could be seen as equivalent to Prime Minister, which gave her the mandate to oversee and superintend over every other ministry, department and agency of government including their budgetary allocations and revenue expenditures. She is invariably the next most powerful cabinet member after President Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo.
In the last ten years, this writer is one of her ardent admirers who is impressed by her academic accomplishments and enviable working experiences on the international scene including her contributions to Nigeria’s economic development after her appointment as the first female Finance Minister and later first female Foreign Affairs Minister by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 and 2006. Though she left the administration unceremoniously over personal issues, her tenure then was a success story.

One of the major reasons some of us believe strongly in ability of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was the way and manner she carried major players both from the North and the South along while she were Minister of Finance between 2003 to 2006. She were never accused of discrimination or bias against any of the diverse groups of the ethnically charged and religiously polarized nation. The same will be said of her then principal, Olusegun Obasanjo who, despite some of his shortcomings will never be accused of tribalism. He is a detribalized leader and a nationalist to the core who believe strongly in the Nigeria project.

The choice of her nominees into top public appointments and even the composition of her associates cut across every segment of Nigeria including those in her Economic Team like Nasir Elrufai, Nuhu Ribadu, Bode Agusto, Dr. Mansur Mukhtar and Chukwuma Soludo among others.

Her achievements too were glaring. We recall that in 2005 she led Nigeria to striking a deal with the Paris Club, a group of bilateral creditors, to pay a portion of Nigeria’s external debt amounting US $12 billion in return for an $18 billion debt write-off.

She ensured transparency in monthly federation account allocation by the introduction of monthly publication of the disbursements in selected media. She was instrumental to helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from an international ratings agency. Even when she left the government in 2006, her nongovernmental organisation, NOI Global Consulting, partnered with the Gallup Organization to introduce what may be described as the first credible opinion poll, the NOI poll, into the Nigerian polity.

With these at the background, it was not surprising that when she were reappointed by President Jonathan as Finance Minister and when she were shortlisted for the post of President of the World Bank in 2012, she received overwhelming support from all Nigerians. An online publication even claimed that some Northern Mallams were praying for her success in the mosques. Everyone at that period believed that she were a detribalized Nigerian with real-world experience of policy-making.

The reason for writing this write-up is to alert her to some disturbing trends as regards some recent appointments into top public offices in Nigeria in view of their economic and political implications. As the most powerful minister and an Igbo Princess from the Niger Delta by virtue of being a daughter of Obi of Ogwashi-Uku community in Delta State, I believe she should continue to live above board.

Recently the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) made some disturbing allegations of ethnic cleansing of Yoruba in federal appointments by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Wife of the sage, Chief HID Awolowo and the retired Bishop of Akure, Rt. Rev. Bolanle Gbonigi in Ikenne Ogun State after the meeting of the forum accused the administration of systematically excluding the Yoruba nation from the federation in terms of appointments without justification. They called on the government to redress the “systematic discrimination” against the Yoruba nationality in federal appointive positions without delay, saying that the Yoruba have been getting “crumbs” from the administration.

No sooner than the Yoruba allegation was made that the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) also publicly lamented gaping marginalization against the North over appointments and promotions in the military. According to these distinguished Nigerians, there are lopsidedness in employment and postings in the Nigerian Army in favour of the Igbos, which is clearly in the breach of the principle of Federal Character.

She should be aware that many Nigerians are referring to a book, ‘Chinua Achebe Teacher of Light’ which she co-authored where she expressed bitterness about how her tribe was dealt with before, during and after the civil war and insinuating that now that she is in authority, she is determined to correct all that she perceived as injustice against her people. Some even insist that what she is doing now is promoting regional and ethnic agenda to the detriment of other groupings in Nigeria by manipulating appointments.

To drive the point home, her name has been lately mentioned as collaborating with another Igbo top ranking appointee in government to ensure the reinstallation of Ms Arunma Oteh as Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) despite the glaring allegations against her and consistent calls by the National Assembly for her removal. Okonjo-Iweala stood her ground, damning all and today, Oteh remains in the position.

While the debate on Oteh’s saga was yet to subside, a coalition of youths, led by human rights activist and President of Civil Rights Congress, Shehu Sani, queried the rationale behind the appointment of a new Chairman for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) when a northerner, Kabir Mashi was already in the position and improving the revenue base of the agency, especially VAT collection for the Federation Account. Under Mashi FIRS has continued to record steady increases in the collection of taxes that it closed the 2012 financial year with a total collection of N5 trillion where N1.8 trillion (36.07 per cent) came from non-oil taxes.

The group claimed that the committee that Okonjo-Iweala set up was a smokescreen just to give a semblance of due process and fairness whereas it was populated mainly by her Igbo kinsmen. They added that “We don’t believe there is transparency in the process, and we caution the President against the excessive ceding of his own power to the finance minister.”

They publicly criticized her of playing an ethnic game with many of the appointments made in the country since she returned to the saddle. Some of the other positions, they alleged, which were created and filled during this period include those of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Sovereign Wealth Fund, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and even the recent appointment of a 40 year old lady as Director General of National Pension Commission (PENCOM).

People are wondering at the coincidence of only Igbos beating every other person at competitive interviews conducted by her nominated international consulting groups. The only semblance of federal character principle in some of those institutions is the appointment of ceremonious but temporary chairmen who are merely figure-heads, with mandates for mere advisory roles.

The use of catchy phrases such as “best brains,” “foreign trained,” and “foreign-based” to deprived qualified, competent and experienced Nigerians to aspire to top positions is quite inimical to the progress of our nation. The erroneous impression that some competitive and sensitive positions can only be filled by unique intelligent tribes must be corrected.

Experiences have shown that in practical situations, some so-called foreign trained and bookish first class graduates could not do better than other Nigerians who have the competence and experience to prove their worth in most difficulty terrains.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala should also note that blatant disregard to the sensitivities and sensibilities of others while arrogantly promoting only people from her tribe may expose them to hatred with potentially explosive consequences such as those experienced in the 1960s when most federal positions were occupied by a particular tribal group.

For those of us who still respect the Hon Minister of Finance and Economic Development, we strongly believe she should dissociate herself from current allegations of ‘biafranization’ of top public offices in Nigeria. We are in democratic government where policy issues should not be done in dictatorial manner of ‘we-are-now-in-power’.

I therefore urge her to ensure that appointments into important positions should be done in credible and transparent manners that can withstand public scrutiny. I believe strongly that only those that mean well will dare to tell the truth on the general feeling in the country.

Yushau A. Shuaib

This article by Yushau A Shuaib has been published in national dailies including, National Mirror, Blueprint, Leadership, Peoples Daily, Daily Trust, it has also appeared on Sahara reporters, Daily Post, Premium Time, Economic Confidential, Eagle News, Nigeria Viallage Square, etc….

About the author


Yushau A. Shuaib is an award winning public relation professional. He is popularly called Idiagbon during his university days, He has distinguished himself with several credible awards in the field of public relations. Notable amongst them are Campus Writer of the year, Alhaji Sabo Mohammed Best Student in Public Relations, Delta State NYSC Merit Award, Automatic Scholarship for the Best Corps Writer, Head of State National NYSC Honours Award, NIPR Public Relations Person of the year in Kano/Jigawa State and the Young Achiever of the year from a Business, among others


  • Mallam Shuaib:

    Thank so much for your well-written and incisive article on Ngozi Okonjo Iweala posted at No one can reasonably take issues with the facts in your write-up except that in Nigeria, things are always not necessarily what they seem to be. Nigeria is where it is today because we have shortchanged ourselves and as a result, our development as a nation has stagnated.

    Let me just for the purpose of this response agree that the issues you have raised were incontrovertible; the next question would then be – why would a seasoned technocrat like Ngozi Okonjo Iweala have her finger on something that is inherently dangerous to the peaceful co-existence of our nation. Without knowing the answer or even pretending to dissect Ngozi’s mind, I would respectfully submit, though, that Ngozi was perhaps playing a well-documented Nigerian political game. The game is older than her, and she would not be the last to play the game. But while the game is being played, Nigeria is spiraling into a precipice.

    In order to throw more light into the game I have alluded to, I have attached herein for you a copy of an article that was posted in 2005 about the make-up of Ibrahim Babangida’s cabinet. Mallam Shuaib, just look at the composition of Ibrahim Babangida’s cabinet and tell me if you did not see the crux of why you did your write-up? When Ibrahim Babangida was asked why he could not do a better job of his cabinet, his audacious response was that they were appointed on merit. Who was talking about merit? That was not what your write-up was about. Your write-up was that “appointments into important positions should be done in credible and transparent manners that can withstand public scrutiny. I believe strongly that only those that mean well will dare to tell the truth on the general feeling in the country.” Absolutely!

    Let me throw another light. The first governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 1958 – 1963 was Roy P. Fenton who was British. A Nigerian was to take over from him at some point. Guess what happened? Mallam Aliyu Mai-Bornu who in 1954 was a teacher at the Veterinary School in Vom, near Jos was picked as the most qualified to take over from Roy Fenton. He had earlier graduated from Kaduna College in 1938 and had been teaching. He was sent to UK to read Economics after which he was made the Deputy Governor in 1963. Mallam Shuaib, at the time Mallam Mai-Bornu was plucked from the Veterinary Institute in Vom, Nigeria had many renowned economists with Ph.D. but a man who had no university degree in anything and had no management experience was selected above all of them. How did that sound to you? That would not “withstand public scrutiny.” Would it?

    And so Mallam Shuaib, if Ngozi is today playing the same game that has been played, starting before she was born, the outcome will surely be the same. Nigeria did not benefit from it in the past, it is not benefitting from it today, and it will not benefit from it tomorrow. The problem with the game is that those who are benefiting from it are never the best Nigeria has to offer. Do not tell me that there are not more qualified northerners than Mallam Mai-Bornu in 1954 to be selected to become the Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria. Mallam Mai-Bornu was selected because he was related to or had connection to somebody in power. He had an Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.

    When Sanusi Lamido Aminu Sanusi was appointed by the late Yar’ Adua to become the Governor of Central Bank in 2009, many Nigerians from the south were up in arms, ignorantly claiming that he did not deserve the appointment. My reaction was to dismiss them because they did not know the man. Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, whom I have known for years through his writings and lectures is arguably one of the best economists and policy analysts in Nigeria. And so, it is not necessarily about one’s ethnicity. It is about one’s qualification, and at the same time about balancing the geographical make-up of Nigeria.

    I don’t know how old you are but what happened in Nigeria from the pre-independence era to 1999 was unconscionable. It was the reason why you posted your write-up. It was oozingly evil, and evil begets evil. As a resident of Kaduna for over 20 years before I emigrated to the US, I can tell you that evil begets evil. Niccoló Machiavelli says in the Prince that “He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation.” I do not believe in the politics of ethnicity. What value is my brother being a president if he is not capable of doing the job?

    I had the blessing of watching a video clip of the late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa addressing a joint session of the US Congress in 1959, I think it was. He was brilliant and eminently worthy of his office. He sure made my day. Can you imagine Goodluck Jonathan addressing a joint session of the US Congress? Yuck! He is one the most incompetent human beings I have ever seen. And so Mallam Shuaib, ethnicity is not the issue. Incompetence, greed, cronyism, religion, peasantry attitude, etc. are the shackles we are dealing with today. Until the political culture which forces us to see things from the prism of ethnicity and religion is permanently dismantled and rejected, Nigeria will continue to stagnate and ooze.

    Nigeria has been led by the northerners for most of its post-independence but there was significantly nothing to show for it in the north. The first time I visited Kaduna in 1973, I was dumbfoundedly disappointed with the backwardness of the town. I knew how Enugu was before the civil war. I had been looking forward to seeing the capital of the old northern Nigeria that had been well-developed since it had not been affected by the civil war. It turned out that everything I had expected was in the GRA but all the Anguars, (Doki, Rimi, Kanawa, Muazu, etc.) Tudun Wada, Tudun Nupewa, Kakuri, Kawo, Sabon Tesha, Malali etc. were worse than any part of Enugu, Onitsha, Benin, Ibadan, etc. That was not Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s fault.

    And so I would end this response with a cliché in Hausa which also was the vernacular paper in the stable of New Nigerian Newspapers yester years – “Gaskiya tafi kwabo.” Anything outside this cliché is meant for the pigs and is embellishment. Once again, thank you for sharing your thought with us.

    Texas, USA

    • Good Day
      Sam I very much apreciate ur post and am 100% sure and belive all that u voice out is nothing but the truth…just write to thank u for that…As for M shuaibu nice thought shared pls keep it up…Appreciate u all Sam and Shaiabu…thank a lot..

  • I think you should be writing on the cumbersomeness and the ambiguity of the entity called Nigeria and its impracticability. No matter how much we try to deceive ourselves that Nigeria is working and in peace, issues raised in your write up will continue to surface. In the 60s and 70s an Igbo name would have been at the foot the article you wrote. Today its an Hausa name and am sure tomorrow it will be an Igbo name again. May be the day after it will Hausa again. Is it not an established pattern that any ethnic group that occupies the aso rock will also occupy NNPC, finace, works and, sometimes, the power ministries (and other juicy offices)?

    So your write up amounts to flogging a dead horse. Look at america, the most ethnically and culturally diverse nation in the world, no body reads about appointments and its distribution.

    Peace be with you

    • Your article is interesting in a way that many people may not fully appreciate now! and I hope we do not appreciate it later.

      Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has done sterling work in getting the Paris Club and the London Club of creditors off our national back but is she taking us down an abyss and back to the dangerous future we do not desire.

      My mother said to me that ALL Nigerian crises start in Ibadan? How so? She drew my attention to the 1962 crises in the Western Nigeria House. Today it is Yoruba out of their capital city, Ibadan alleging marginalisation. I do not doubt there is marginalisation against Yoruba but I prefer they do not talk about it; it is degrading to appear to beg for scraps! Jonathan cannot be President for Life! Even Hastings Banda died at some stage – 90 or 101? Who cares.

      But remember the war started in Yorubaland with the NPC planned invasion of Yorubaland but a series of unrelated events brought Nigeria to the abyss. At that time there was an all powerful finance minister also from Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s Delta. There was also a weak Prime Minister, like our own inarticulate, uncertain GEJ. The war that came was sudden, episodic and unexpected!

      At that time there was hue and cry about marginalisation as a particular ethnic group was the only one with ‘experts’ and so they took ALL the top appointments. Am I the only one who fears a repetition of history? So if you go to sovereign wealth fund and every other finance ministry parastatal, you see us heading back to Biafra? God forbid!

  • Greetings Yushau A. Shuaib.

    A cursory look at my conclusion would show that my only interest is in making sure that the ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria begin to face reality – the Nigerian union was conceived in hell for the selfish interest of the British government. At least three countries should have been created out of the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates instead of the current Nigeria monster. Allow me to once more repeat the only sane solution to the British-Nigeria curse:

    Long Live the Islamic Republic of Arewa!
    Long Live the Republic of Oduduwa!
    Long Live the other Republics born from the demise of the ‘British Birthed Abomination’, Nigeria!
    Long Live Mother Africa.

    As the only Igbo male survivor of the 1968 PH Genocaust, I watched helplessly as Igbo males were dragged out of their homes and slaughtered. But for the grace of God I was slated to be one of them but for the timely intervention of my cousins on my mother’s side who were non-Igbo and a friend of my elder brother, a sergeant major and a nurse in the Nigerian army, they made it possible for me as a eyewitness to begin to tell the story of those whose human and civil rights had been violently taken from them.

    The Genocaust (Igbo genocide and holocaust) opened my eyes to the un-workability of Nigeria. I do not hate since hatred is a sickness that afflicts the hater but my intent is to help bring about the peaceful dissolution of Nigeria in my life time.

    What you wrote is your view and I respect it, but the unswerving position I have taken since 1996 when I took on the challenge to work towards the peaceful dissolution of Nigeria is unshakable.

    Again for the sake of Africa and the ethnic nationalities in the forced union, Nigeria, it is imperative that Nigeria be peacefully dissolved.

    God bless Africa.


  • This is a good advise from an admirer of the Minister. That she should ensure that appointments are credible and transparent, and able to withstand public scrutiny. I will give the same advise to a friend or a relation in the Minister’s position. And whatever we may have against the constitutional federal character requirement, note that it is there for a reason, and especially in view of the country’s experience. These are not soccer positions. You don’t want all federal positions to be occupied by one or two ethnic groups because you want only “unique intelligent tribes”or “best brains”.

  • Yoroba and Awusa, these band of brothers in the face of genocide and injustice, are at it again, trying to instigate another round of genocide against the Igbo by distorting the truth. They did it successfully in the 1960s but we will not allow them to succeed at it this time around. Any Igbo who can string two sentences together must start writing now, in countering the calculated nefarious write ups of these disgruntled misfits and tribalists who believe that mediocrity must remain the perpetual way of doing things in Nigeria.
    Nigeria is as wretched as she is today because of lower animals, who masquerade as humans, spreading pernicious falsehoods. This latest political chicanery, of wanton false accusation of all Igbo political office holders of tribalism, must not be tolerated or allowed to stand by the Igbo intelligentsia. Our fathers tolerated and allowed it to fester in the 1960s and we paid dearly for it. We will be damned if we did what our fathers did in this respect. Let the counter writings begin now!
    Nebukadineze Adiele

  • I just read an interview granted by Hon. Mustapha Bala a member of House of Representatives in Leadership newspaper (March 16, 2013) where he laments alleged flagrant abuse of the federal character provision in the Constitution and pointedly alleged that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) is complicity in the saga.He represents Dawakin Kudu/Warawa federal constituency in Kano State. He said that he was not satisfied with the way government is appointing heads of parastatals and agencies in violation of the federal character principle. While blaming the Federal Character Commission on the development because the constitution empowers them to draw a formula for the headship of the MDAs based on the states and regions, he said the commission could have taken legal actions against any agency or parastatals that failed to comply with the principle of federal character which is an act of the National Assembly, but they have not done that.

    He said he suspected that there is connivance between the Federal Character Commission and heads of parastatals in the whole saga. I am the deputy chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology, we have a lot of parastatals and research institutes headed by Directors-General (DGs).

    Some of the DGs’ tenures have expired and the minister of science and technology has recommended renewals for them through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Pius Anyim Pius. However, those recommendations are not being considered because there is serious corruption in the office of the SGF. All appointments are channel through his office so that he can pass it to the President for final approval, but there is corruption in there.

    Constitutionally, an acting DG cannot act for more than six months; you either confirm him or appoint a substantive one. There is an Agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology called National Science and Engineering Agency (NASENI). NASENI has many centres and each one is headed by a director.

    The NASENI DG retired in 2011 and an acting DG, Muhammad Haruna from Nasarawa state, the most senior director in the agency told to act base on the recommendation of the minister. But as I am talking to you now, he still in acting capacity because the office of the SGF feels that he is not from the section of the country that that he comes from – South-East.

    The minister has recommended him for confirmation. I even went to the minister’s office to ask about the delay in confirmation. The minister admitted he had recommended him for confirmation and followed it up by writing a letter to the President through the chief of staff to confirm the acting DG, but up till now we are still waiting. The SGF has not forwarded that recommendation to the President.
    Similarly, we had two acting DGs, Prof Mamman of National Institute of Trabecular Research in Kaduna and Dr. Ahmed Bindir, the DG of National Office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion. The minister recommended their confirmation, which came after three months. I believe that was possible because their research institutes are not Grade “A” parastatal; they are lower Grade “C” parastatals.

    Any parastatal that is Grade “A,” the SFG will ensure that such positions are not given to northerners whenever their tenures come up for renewal. Look at FIRS, Kabiru M. Mashi has being an acting executive chairman of that agency. By next month he will be one year in acting capacity. Though I will not blame the SGF alone on that but there is a connivance between the SGF’s office and finance to ensure that position does not go to the North-West.

    There is a similar situation at PENCOM where the SGF had made sure that the acting DG is from the South-East even when she is supposed to have retired on December 23, 2012.The SGF is not being fair to the North.

    Recently, I raised the alarm when I discovered that the federal character provisions were being flouted in the Nigerian Immigrations Service recruitment exercise. I condemned the act of inequality in the recruitment exercise where about 1,000 immigrations officers were coming from Imo state, where the Controller of Immigration hails from while states in the north only got 300 slots. That is why the federal government cancelled the exercise and set up a committee to ensure equity in the recruitment exercise.

    THe honourable member also claimed that the office of the SGF is corrupt and unfair to the North. He said “Currently, we have many DGs of northern origin whose tenure renewal process is in limbo because the SGF had failed to act on them. We have Prof. Nuhu Yaqub, the executive secretary of TEFCON, his first tenure has elapsed, he is waiting for second tenure, he was asked to hand over to the next senior officer. There is Dr. Ahmed Moddibo of UBEC, whose first tenure ended and was asked to hand over.

    Also, there is the executive secretary, Muttaka Rabe of PTDF who was asked to hand over after his tenure too. Who are they handing over to? You will realize the person is not from the north. We have also Dr. Dogo Waziri Muhammad, the executive secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme, after his first tenure he was asked to hand over, no reason for not renewing his tenure.
    There is Dr. S. O. Muhammad from Kogi state, of National Space Research Agency, his tenure has expired waiting for renewal. There is also Musa Mayaki of NTA, an acting DG waiting for confirmation. There is also Dr. Ghaji of Infrastructure Constructional Regulatory Commission, he’s also an acting DG. If you look at it critically, anyone who is not from South-Eeast, the office of the SGF tends to frustrate that person, DG or executive secretary.
    Whereas DG of Debt Management Office, Abraham Onwankwo, got his tenure renewal just three weeks after expiration of his first tenure, swiftly granted by the SGF, secretly because it has not been announced.

    The foundation services are dominated by one section of the country: debt management services, is Abraham Nwankwo from the South- East, pension commission is Chinelu from the south- east; Nigerian Stock Exchange is Oscar Onyema- South East, Security and Exchange Commission Aruma Otteh, South East because she’s Delta Igbo, Sovereign Wealth Fund Mr.Uche Orji- south-east; FRSC and pension commission, they also want to take over, which is not fair and is a violation of the federal character principle. I urge the President to turn his attention to the SGF office. If care is not taken that office under Anyim Pius Anyim, is going to undermine the Transformation Agenda of this government.

    He disclosed that the house is trying as much as possible to approach the issue in a diplomatic way. We’ve summoned the SGF to appear before the House Committee on Federal Character, he hasn’t come, we have written a lot of letters inviting him, but he refused to come.

    “In fact, last week the committee also invited the SGF on other issue, he refused to turn up, we waited for an hour more; he didn’t come, we sent an SMS to his aides and they replied that he was on a courtesy call to the Senate president, which we feel was disrespectful to the House.
    We closed the session with a resolution to give him another chance to appear before the committee, if he fails to come, we will have no alternative than to issue a warrant of arrest for him.

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala And The Controversial Appointments By Olusola Daniel

    Having spotted, on several sites, an article by one Yushau A. Shuaib in which the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is accused of facilitating controversial appointments in favour of her Igbo fellows, I was alarmed by this tale by moonlight gone viral. Somehow the thesis of the article did not quite fit. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has earned a solid reputation for her fight for a better Nigeria, her passion for a united Nigeria where fairness and equity reign. How could she, as our elders say, learn how to use her left hand in her old age? It just didn’t sound right. Still, I decided to study Shuaib’s piece to see if he had any basis for making such a wild allegation.
    At the end of the exercise, it was obvious that the writer, in pursuit of an unholy agenda, was on a carefully planned mission to paint this icon of integrity in bad light; thus tarnishing her sterling image among Nigerians and the international community. The evidence he presented in support of the allegations he made was flawed, his logic was distorted and his conclusion very very malicious. In other words, Mr Shuaib was telling big fat lies against an innocent woman. So, having followed the activities of Madam Finance Minister, as an observer of political events, I thought I might as well offer some thoughts to set the facts right.
    First of all, although Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appears to hold a very powerful position in President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet, as the writer posits, we also must not ignore the fact that she doesn’t call the shots when it comes to federal appointments. Her influence, as great as it is, is very limited when it comes to matters of public appointments. Apart from the fact that she cannot intrude into areas that are not directly connected with her job responsibilities, she would be acutely aware of the grave consequences that might be engendered by her whimsical interference in such matters. Having built a global reputation for integrity and performance, she – more than anyone – would be conscious of the damage that tribalism or any form of nepotism can do, not only to her credibility but also to national cohesion – an ideal that she is known to stand for.
    In fact, most of the appointments cited in Mr Shuaib’s article appeared to have been made before Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resumed office as Coordinating Minister for the Economy. This shows that his write up was nothing but a cheap hatchet job designed to achieve satanic objectives with lies. Thank God Nigerians are too smart to be fooled by such antics.
    As much as we have the responsibility of keeping our leaders in check, we must be careful to do so dispassionately, without any form of prejudice. Criticisms are more effective when they are based on facts and devoid of ulterior motive. I am afraid to submit that Mr Shuaib’s piece does not pass that litmus test.
    Olusola Daniel is a social critic, political observer and an advocate for community development. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria.


    I want to start by saying that Yushau Shuaib is not speaking for me as a Northerner. People like him who are fast earning a reputation as hit men who blackmail for the right price are not my advocates. I will never support his campaign to blackmail Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala so that she will abandon her reform of the decadent economic system. The progressive new North we are fighting for is different from the discredited old order that Shuaib and his fellow travellers are trying to prop up. Of course this campaign is bound to fail because as everyone knows, this woman is a tough nut to crack. The orchestrated campaign to smear her with the ethnic tar will fail just like all campaigns against her previous efforts to cancel Nigeria’s external debts and save money for future generations through the Excess Crude Account failed woefully.

    As a proud Northerner who believes that no part of the country has a monopoly of brilliance and high performance, I am embarrassed that people like Shuaib are making a case which gives the impression that the North has nothing to offer. It is even worse that the foundation for this campaign is falsehood. It is quite clear that this campaign cannot stand because as the great Uthman Dan Fodio said “Conscience is an open wound; only Truth can heal it”. As someone who has observed over time the passion of the Finance Minister for a better Nigeria and the hard work as well as personal risk she continues to bear (it was only last December that her mum, a retired Professor in her eighties was kidnapped)

    These allegations of filling top government positions with her fellow Igbo are the latest weapon of blackmail against Okonjo-Iweala by those afraid of the massive cleanup of pension funds administration, the ports operations and especially the fuel subsidy regime through which barons have looted the treasury in the past. Whipping up primordial sentiments to smear reformist public servants is a favourite tactic of reactionary elements whose interest it is to derail or delay the momentum of reform in order divert attention from their misdeeds. This rabble-rousing article by someone who cannot justify by meritorious acclaim the public position he presently occupies is part of the on-going subterranean plot to destabilise and cripple the Jonathan administration by hitting what is generally mistaken as its soft underbelly. But they will fail because Nigeria will outlive their lies.

    Yushau Shuaib’s awfully illogical and factually manipulated opinion “Still on Okonjo-Iweala’s controversial appointments” lacked the objectivity and attention to available evidence needed to hit the mark. It was high on intoxicating ethnic jingoism but suffered a huge credibility deficiency. The question is: How many appointments have Mrs Okonjo-Iweala made since her return to the Finance Ministry in September 2011? So far, only one recruitment process has been concluded under her watch – for the headship of the Sovereign Wealth Fund. And she had no control over the process that produced the brilliant young Nigerian who emerged after a very transparent contest. The position was duly advertised in reputable local and international publications. Mr Uche Orji was adjudged the best following an internationally competitive recruitment exercise conducted by KPMG, a respected global consulting agency.

    The Nominations Committee which ensured that the recruitment process met the best international parameters was headed by Mr Fola Adeola, one of the most respected pillars of the Nigerian private sector and included distinguished professionals from all the geo-political zones. Mr Orji’s credentials for getting the job are beyond reproach and nobody has faulted his appointment. If Yushau Shuaib is insinuating that KPMG is an Igbo enclave or was compromised in the recommendation of Mr Orji, a first class investment banker with an astute resume and a former CEO of a European subsidiary of JP Morgan, then we are dealing here with more than just crass ignorance.

    The question that must be asked is: Was the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua promoting Northern hegemony when he appointed Malam Tanimu Yakubu, Dr Omar Mukhtar, Dr Usman Shamsudeen and Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Economic Adviser, Finance Minister, National Planning Minister and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria respectively? Igbos, Yorubas and other ethnic groups did not question Yar’Adua’s judgment then because these men were qualified for the positions and nobody accused Yar’adua of arewanisation policy. What is the lesson here? The best can come from any part of Nigeria. Inciting one ethnic group against another has led to tragic consequences in the past but fortunately the Nigerian public is fast losing its appetite for lies and deceitful propaganda. It is highly dishonest to keep silent when situation favours you and begin a campaign of lies

    If Yushau Shuaib had capacity for factual double check or wasn’t in such a mad rush to blackmail the Finance minister, he would have noticed that save for the Sovereign Wealth Fund CEO who came in through KPMG, Ms Arunma Oteh, the Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Mustapha Chike-Obi, Managing Director of Asset Management Company and Dr Abraham Nwankwo, Director General of Debt Management Office were in office before Okonjo-Iweala’s return. So how can she be blamed for appointing Igbos who were already appointed before she returned as Finance Minister? Mr Oscar Onyeama is Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, a privately-owned enterprise with no Government input whatsoever. This hatchet job by this discredited writer demonstrates how desperate her traducers will go to invent facts in support of their calumnious campaign.

    It is a no brainer that the motivating factor for this mischievous campaign against the Finance Minister is the fear in some quarters that the acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service may not be confirmed. The recruitment of discredited and unscrupulous civil society hatchet men to lead Mr Kabiru Marshi’s campaign falls into a predictable pattern of subterfuge which many Nigerians can see through. It is unfortunate that against global best practices some people still see the FIRS as a lucrative honey pot for the sustenance of ethnic cronyism, hence an appointee must be of same ethnic stock as they. Many Northerners are holding top positions in the public and private sectors strictly on merit and without blackmailing the approving authority. The impression must be erased that we Northerners are gullible and cannot consider a matter as serious as public office appointment dispassionately.

    Yushau Shuaib and co-travellers will be disappointed that their campaign to smear the Finance Minister is headed for the rocks. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is admired and respected by many Nigerians including Northern elites and ordinary people because they appreciate her genuine love and hard work for a better Nigeria. The notion that she is a tribalist or anti-North will never sell. In all matters, please let us respect facts. Appointing a substantive FIRS chairman must follow due process and only the most qualified will get the position. It is an insult on the dignity and personal integrity of Nigerians, North or South, East or West, that the only way someone can be appointed into high public office is by affirmative action, by by-passing a competitive and rigorous selection process.

    It is sickening and defeatist for those promoting Mr Marshi’s FIRS candidacy to resort to blackmailing the Finance Minister. If a Northerner eventually gets appointed FIRS Chairman, the unfortunate and unintended impression would have been created by Yushau Shuaib’s inglorious commentary that he or she did not merit the position but rather it was a negotiated ethno-regional geo-power trade off. That would indeed be most regrettable. There is no future in Nigeria for factually-challenged and ethnically aggravating diatribes like those on which the Yushau Shuaibs of this country built their careers. They must stop peddling rumours to destroy the name of a hardworking woman who has done so much to reform the bad habits of a wayward but ambitious economic giant.

    James Sani
    A lawyer, Kaduna State

  • I read a disturbing report this morning. Is it true. It read thus: “The Nigerian government has moved against the spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Yushau Shuaib, over an article considered critical of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

    In the article, entitled “Still on Okonjo-Iweala over Controversial Appointments” and published by this newspaper on March 6, Mr. Shuaib alerted Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala “to some disturbing trends as regards some recent appointments into top public offices in Nigeria in view of their economic and political implications”.

    Arguing that some of the minister’s appointments appeared to be lopsided, the writer urged her “to ensure that appointments into important positions should be done in credible and transparent manners that can withstand public scrutiny”.

    That article has now angered Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala who we learnt has requested the Minister of Information and Communication, Labaran Maku, to discipline Mr. Shuaib, one of Nigeria’s most effective public relations practitioners in government employ.

    Insiders in the Information Ministry said Mr. Shuaib has now been recalled from his post at NEMA.

    He has also been queried over the article.

    “He has been directed to explain why he should not be dismissed for criticising and antagonising a public officer,” one of our sources said.

    Mr. Shuaib joined the Nigerian civil service in 1993 after he was offered automatic employment as part of a post-NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) presidential award he won.

    Despite working for government, Mr. Shuaib has remained one of the most published commentators on public affairs in Nigeria, explaining government polices and subtly criticising public officials from time to time.

    Mr. Shuaib could not be reached for comments Thursday, but insiders in the information ministry said this is the first time he would be queried over his writings.

    The Finance Minister could also not be reached. Her spokesman, Paul Nwabuikwu, said she was out of the country; and declined to react to the issue on her behalf.

    Mr. Maku has denied being asked by Ms. Okonjo-Iweala to punish Mr. Shuaib.

    In an sms response to enquiries, Mr. Maku, through his spokesperson, Joseph Mutah, said Mr. Shuaib’s re-deployment was in order.

    “The Honourable Minister of Finance didn’t authorise the redeployment and doesn’t have to do so. Such matters are within the purview of the Public Communication and Human Resources Depts,” he said.

  • Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has denied orchestrating the dismissal of Mr. Yushau Shuaib from the civil service over a newspaper article he wrote. Shuaib, a prolific writer and author, had published an article in several newspapers recently on the alleged role of the minister in the skewing the process of appointing a new chairman for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
    Media report said because of the article, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala engineered the redeployment of Shuaib from his post as spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) back to the Ministry of Information.
    He now faces a query and potential dismissal from the civil service unless he apologises to the minister, the report said. But in a reaction yesterday, the minister’s spokesman Paul Nwabuikwu denied Mrs Okonjo-Iwela is pushing for Shuaib’s dismissal.
    “I have seen several reports especially online which claim that the Finance Minister is using her power to oppress Mr Yushau Shuaib. That is false and unfair,” Nwabuikwu said in an emailed statement.
    “The minister is the one being oppressed here. Mr Shuaib accused her of pursuing an ethnic agenda in appointments. But those he mentioned as beneficiaries of the so called agenda are people who were already in office before she returned as minister.
    “So she is the victim of a serial campaign based on lies sponsored by people who are angry that due process rather than politics is being upheld in the recruitment of a new chair for FIRS. But we believe that every part of this country has brilliant people who have what it takes to go thru a competitive process and perform well at any level. No part of Nigeria has a monopoly of capable people. Our history confirms so.
    “To invoke the tragic events of 1966 based on these lies so flippantly as he did in the article is indeed unfortunate. I won’t say more than that. The minister did not give any order for anyone to lose his job. Unlike the ridiculous claims made in some media, she has no power to order another minister to fire anybody. If the gentleman is going through some internal processes it is not her doing. She is too busy with her portfolio to get involved in such things.
    “Dr Okonjo-Iweala is a humane and compassionate person and has no interest in making any one lose his job. She is very forgiving and I know whatever she can do to help even the undeserving she will do it. The many people who have hurt her know that. The ball is in his court.”

  • THE Internet-based Premium Times was winging on March 6, 2013 about top appointments denied its sponsors of the Northern establishment. It mentioned four portfolios held down by Ndigbo and concluded that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, was “Biafranising” Federal positions.

    According to the prejudicial write-up by one Yushau Shuaibu, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s justification for ceding the appointments to her people is their vaunted qualification. If the piece were not aimed at promoting opprobrium against the government by portraying the Finance Minister as less than patriotic, the article would have lent credence to its insinuation of bad faith by discrediting the claimed qualifications of the relevant appointees. It did nothing of the sort.

    The positions headed by Ndigbo which the ghostwriters of the Premium Times find intolerable are the headships of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM). Now, the Igbo lady currently at the PENCOM is there only in acting capacity, just as Ben Dikki from Kebbi State is the acting DG of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE). If Dikki’s place at the BPE, which is responsible for privatisation, is accepted as normal, why should the world be turned upside down simply because an Igbo lady is the acting head of PENCOM? Again, PENCOM is not under the Ministry of Finance.

    In what capacity can the Finance Minister have railroaded PENCOM’s acting head into office? Further, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala joined President Jonathan’s administration in August 2011. The Igbo heads of AMCON and NCC had been in their respective offices long before that date! Was Yushua Shuaibu suggesting in his inflammatory article that the Finance Minister was dictating her kinsfolk into Federal offices even before she was sworn in as Minister?

    This campaign of injustice against Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has gone completely out of hand. I do not know this woman personally. I have never met her. As a matter of fact, meeting her is not my strongest desire. She is not even from my home state. But fair should be fair. Detractors should stop impugning her hard-earned integrity. They should stop pillorying a patriot delivering honest service to the fatherland. How could she have been at the World Bank and at the same time “Biafranised” Federal appointments?

    Now this is the true position. Premium Times, in their true spirit, have laid patently false charges against the Finance Minister, accused her unwarrantedly of nepotism, in order to attain their deep-seated intention of demonising the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

    All those accused of being unjustifiably appointed are, on the contrary, more than qualified for the positions they hold, positions handed them in the fulfillment of due diligence, proper competitive interviews and consensual agreement by the relevant appointment boards.

    Why is it so wrong and objectionable that four seasoned and excelling Igbo technocrats are holding down positions earned after due appointment processes? Of course, there is nothing novel in the Premium Times traducing President Jonathan’s government for appointments of functionaries other than from the “almighty” North.

    It was the same false and incompetent arguments that were proffered against General J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi in the promotion of Army Officers in 1966. It was the same false and lame arguments that were recently laid at the doorstep of General Azubuike Ihejirika in the promotion of Army officers. In both the Ironsi and Ihejirika accusations, it turned out that they had been wrongly and dishonestly accused, simply to defame them, to cause disaffection against them and to destabilise the entity.

    WITHOUT doubt, the whole and sole purpose of the disreputable tirades by Premium Times that have been going on since the inception of the Jonathan administration is to bring the government down. The simple reason Premium Times wants the Jonathan administration to fail is that it is not headed by someone from the “almighty” North – a people anointed to govern in perpetuity while others must remain as non-citizens or half citizens, without the right or the privilege to ever mount the saddle of leadership. There can only be peace in Nigeria when the North is in charge.

    Otherwise, everything must be left in pieces; hell and high waters must envelope the people. Those labouring day and night to make the country better must be forever castigated and covered with effluvium. All aspects of the superstructure must be bombed to smithereens. Unless a Northerner is in charge! Well, we have news for the proponents of this schema of injustice. The warped policy of Northern Supremacy will come to naught, which is where it belongs. Nigeria belongs to all of its citizens none of whom may be classified as second class or underclass.

    Let us now take a closer look at the facts of Federal appointments. The hatchet writers of the Premium Times were griping over four competent Ndigbo that were duly appointed into Federal offices. What about the scores of Northerners holding down Federal appointments without anyone batting an eyelid? Examine the facts, please, starting from six of the top most posts in the Federal establishment:

    * The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is from the North.

    * The Controller-General of the Customs, Alhaji Abdallah Dikko is from the North.

    * The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, is from the North.

    * The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Alhaji Kabiru Mashi, is from the North.

    * The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Alhaji Habib Abdullahi, is from the North.

    *The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, is from the North.

    No one is complaining about these pivotal positions residing with Northerners. Is this because the bosses in question each have multiple heads upon their shoulders? Is it because, based strictly on education and qualification, there are no Southerners to mann the posts? Is it not because Northern manipulators of ethnic politics can never be satisfied unless ALL positions, including the presidency of Nigeria, are in the hands of Northerners?

    Apart from the six super positions listed above there are countless others. Let’s demonstrate some of them. Dr. Sambo Abdulrahman heads the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Dr. Aminu Ladan Shaharu heads the National Teachers Institute (NTI). Alhaji Mohammed Umar Nadada heads the Small & Medium Enterprises Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). Dr. Ado Ibrahim heads the National Primary Health Care.

    Mr. Terva Gemade heads the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). Alhaji Ahmed Aminu heads the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). Alhaji Ahmed Giade heads the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Alhaji Aliyu Yelwa heads the Fiscal Responsibility Commission. Hadiza Kangiwa heads National Refugee Commission.

    There are others of them: Gr. Ghali Bello heads the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission. Mr. Yusuf Nuhu heads the Federal Radio Corporation. Alhaji Kabir Kabo Usman heads the Centre for Management Development. Alhaji Bello Mahmud heads the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Malam Abubakar Jijiwa heads the Voice of Nigeria (VON). Prof B. B. Shehu heads the National Hospital, Abuja. Dr. Masa’udu Adamu Kazaure heads the National Board for Technical Education.

    Rear Admiral Bala Mohammed Mshielia is chairman of the Military Pensions Board (MPB). Alhaji Habib Jato is the DG of the National Library. Prof. Junaid Mohammed is the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education. Dr. Ahmed Rufai is the DG of the Nigerian Communication Satellite (NICOMSAT). Alhaji Sani Sidi is the DG of the National Emergency Management Centre (NEMA). Dr. M. S. Haruna heads the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure. (NASENI).

    It bears reiteration to state that all the names mentioned above are of Northern functionaries in the top echelons of Federal appointments. There are many others not mentioned here. Yet, no one is complaining. But President Jonathan and his Finance Minister must be crucified because four qualified Igbo technocrats are holding down Federal appointments! What injustice! What insincerity! What insensitivity! And, most importantly, what a shame!

    In the light of the statistics provided above, what justification has the Premium Times in counseling that “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala should also note that blatant disregard to the sensitivities and sensibilities of others while arrogantly promoting only people from her tribe may expose them to hatred with potentially explosive consequences such as those experienced in the 1960s when most federal positions were occupied by a particular tribal group”?

    Was the leadership of Nigeria in Igbo hands in the First Republic? Apart from the six months of January to July 1966 that General Aguiyi-Ironsi was in power before he was brutally murdered in a northern counter-coup, no Igbo man or woman has ever been at the head of any Nigerian government? Yet, the Premium Times is threatening that Ndigbo are liable to suffer a repeat of the pogrom perpetrated against them in 1966. In the light of the hate wave being fanned by the Premium Times and their ilk, is it a surprise that churches are choice targets for suicide bombings?

    The kind of hate embers being fanned today is the same that led to the anti-Igbo pogrom of 1966. The rest of the country was turned against Ndigbo at the time. But it since became obvious that Nigeria’s problem is not Ndigbo. Nigeria’s problem is to be found in those who insist that peace is impossible in Nigeria unless they maintain an unchallenged control of the country’s superstructure and substructure.

    NNAEMEKA OKIGBO, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.

  • It is pretty clear to me that you are not a sincere person and that you have beef against Ibos. And you also live and write with “augmented reality”.

    You mentioned ” filled by unique intelligent tribes “, that is understatement. Ibos as a race are uniquely exceptional , and they believe in their exceptionalism and uniqueness. When Soludo freed Nigerian banks from shackles of backwardness, your people said then that he handed the banking industry to his brothers and sisters. This is a man that would be remembered forever, and we , Nigerians, are eternally indebted to him. Today, your brother Dangote is the one reaping the hard work of Soludo. Is Dangote investment in the North? What about BUA?

    The whole world is in short supply of unique talent, and if Ibos have such in abundance, then Nigeria and Nigerian Government should count themselves highly favored.

    How many J-J- okochas do you have in the North? Are you not aware that J-J- and Ngozi are second cousins? Keshi got cup the other day, to you it is okay. Are you not aware that Keshi is an Ibo boy? Go and balance his team list with incompetent , but federal “character-based” players.

    I feel sorry for you. If you were sacked because of your recent write up, to me your punishment is light. You need jail term, too.

    You belong to the class that never would allow this land to blossom, however you yoke is already broken. Your case is that you are smart too late and unprepared to face the challenges of 21st century. Listen to Sanusi, (CBN Gov), first get your sisters to school, and your brothers off Almajiri system.

  • Dear Shuaib. It is surprising to read the Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala and CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido responding to your allegation in far away Washington at IMF/World Bank meeting. Their comment appeared in Vanguard April 29, 2013 under an Interview’s captioned: “Nigerians push federal character to the extreme.” Please visit the Vanguard link at the bottom of this excerpt for their comments:

    “Minister, there is the accusation that you are promoting Igbo agenda and instigating the sack of a serving public officer, what is your reaction to this?
    “Okonjo-Iweala: I think it was brought to my attention last week that an article was online and published in some Nigerian papers alleging that I was pursuing an ethnic agenda. As you know, ever since the President has ordered that out of the six or seven positions that were open, headship of key institutions, he said everybody now say they are marginalized, as such, he would do it in a way that every part of the country is served and reflects federal character. He summoned two ministers and he asked them to assist him to make the decision because he is the ultimate decision-maker. These two ministers should advertise the positions domestically and internationally, and go through a process to help screen the applicants. And he wanted to use the screening procedure on the basis of merit. One of his objectives is to try and introduce some competition and merit into some of what we do in government like he did in You-Win which has been highly appreciated.
    So, he summoned myself and the Minister of Health, and basically said that the Executive Director of National Health Insurance Scheme and the Chairman of the FIRS should be advertised and we should go through that process, then, we will end up giving him a shortlist out of which he will then pick whichever candidate he will give the job. The Minister of Health and I asked our Permanent Secretaries to handle this. The two Permanent Secretaries jointly set up a process of competition to identify a consulting firm which will help the government go through this process. And it took a bit of time for them to do this competition and short-listing. Philips Consulting won the bid. So, they worked with Philips Consulting and open a competitive process to do this. It was a transparent process. At the end of the day, a shortlist was handed to the President for him to make a choice. But we noticed that somewhere during this process, a lot of attacks began suddenly on the issue of FIRS Chair. And this thing kept mounting and mounting, culminating into this article. We didn’t pay attention, but this other article you were talking about was brought to my attention and basically, the article, which was published on Premium Times, even says that I am pursuing an ethnic and anti-North agenda, and that since I came, all the people in the financial sector are from one ethnic group.

    “Then they listed all the names including the DG of the NSE, the DG of SEC, the DG of AMCON, the MD of the Sovereign Wealth Fund and myself. Basically, I didn’t know who wrote the article but it turned out to be someone who is within the government. But the point is this, most of those occupying those seats except for the Sovereign Wealth MD were appointed before I came into government. So how do you then say that I am responsible for their appointment? However, this article was popularised. It was published in Sun Newspaper. It didn’t come only to Okonjo-Iweala’s attention; it was published for every one to read. I think people discovered that the person who wrote it is a serving civil servant. I have absolutely no desire or drive for anybody to lose his/her job. But I feel that if you have written something that is incorrect, you should politely retract it. The CBN Governor is here.
    I wasn’t there when the AMCON was formed neither did I appoint the D-G. The CBN Governor will tell you that. You can check the date of appointment of these officers. The SWF was competed again on the instruction of Mr. President and who won it, won it on merit. And the people who ran the process published it in the newspapers so that Nigerians could see.

    “Who chaired the nomination committee? Fola Adeola. Who were the members who eventually made the decision? They were chosen from each geopolitical zone in the country. So, I feel this is an oppression of a Minister. It is a wrongful oppression by publishing wrong information on what the Minister did not do. You know it is not in my hands if you publish wrong information and paste it on the internet, the people who are in charge of the civil service and your civil servants will read it. So, trying to say that Okonjo-Iweala is driving an agenda to sack someone is not correct. But I believe that if you publish something wrong and you know it is wrong, you have to retract it.”

    Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s Remarks:
    “On two of the appointments, I was the one who came to Washington in 2010 and called Mustapha Chike Obi who was then in New York and told him to come and run AMCON. I did not consult Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. I knew Chike Obi as the most brilliant boy in his class in Kings College. We attended the same Kings College. I know him from his work in Goldman Sachs. I was seeking for an investment banker who had not been corrupted by the system in Nigeria. And I was the one who recommended him for appointment. I was the one who called Kingsley Muoghalu from Geneva and recommended him to President Yar Adua for appointment. Yes, I did telephone Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at that time because I wanted reference from people who must have known him. I was the one that invited him to come.

    “These things happen in Nigeria. It doesn’t stop the press from saying that I am pursuing a northern agenda because Mustapha is a northern name. Many a times, we do ourselves a lot of damage. My view about this is that we push first of all this federal character thing to the extreme. My idea of federal character is that whatever you do and whatever institution you have, you reflect the diversity of Nigeria. Diversity is not just ethnicity-driven, but you still have Muslims, Christians; northerners, southerners, women, men; and that is what is called federal character.

    “Apart from all these ridiculous things of accusing someone of who you appoint and did not appoint, the entire concept about inclusion and diversity have been so abused that anyone who loses a position, for instance, you sack the management of an institution for fraud and someone says it is ethnic cleansing. You all know what we went through in the banking industry when people stole people’s money and we removed them, it was seen as a northern agenda. So is it southern agenda to steal N192 billion of depositors’ fund? So, we need to outgrow this.

    “The second point is that it does not give any newspaper credit for a journalist to take an online story and publish in his newspaper. There was recently a story that says that I own an oil well, giving the name of a company that when we checked, it does not exist. There was a story of the CBN Governor owning a company that takes toll for parking with a name of a company that is not registered with CAC. And I was alleged to be a shareholder of the company. We don’t have the time to be pursuing people in court and charge them with libel. I don’t have the time because to sue for libel, you have to go to court in person. But this idea that every public officer is guilty and you can just write anything about them is wrong. If online people do this, those of you that work for a very responsible media should verify your own story. You take something from Premium Times and publish in credible newspaper. I don’t even know who owns Premium Times nor its address. After some time, it goes round. I get messages and people keep asking me if it is true. And I say sorry, if you know me you won’t even ask me.

    Okonjo-Iweala’s Further comment:
    “In this case, it was someone working for government who wrote the article. Secondly, we strongly believe that according to what the Governor was saying, there is talent in every ethnic group in Nigeria. Every group has the ability to produce bright people. So, we should not be afraid that we won’t find the right people or when processes are used, it is designed to screen out a particular group. I know that if we follow that process, we will find the right people who will work in these places without undermining the credibility. Recently, we appointed Dr. Shehu as Executive Director of the African Development Bank. If you check his credentials, you will find that he is not from the South-East. You appoint people who can carry the name of this country with pride.”

    The link:

  • It may it interest you to know that I have never joined issues with people on their public opinion regarding governance in Nigeria, particularly, the few Hausas/Fulanis like you, Tijani and, legion of Yoruba jingoists. However, after going through your article on Eagle Online of 04/23/2013, I felt inescapably compelled to tell you that your write up on Okonjo Iweala was simply a deep seated reflection of “Sinister Legacy ” of the Northern hegemony. For fifty-two years your Northern folks in the name of leadership had inflicted 150 percent of what you erroneously accused Okonjo Iweala of in this contraption called Nigeria. Just look at the glaringly wickedness reflected in the lopsidedness of the so called Nigeria Constitution by your folks. I was thinking that from your claim of purest intention to pen aright the wrongs in governance in Nigeria that, you should have started from that point constitutional lopsidedness, at least. Rather, you feel comfortable to dwell on mere appointments into ministries. How would people like you feel if you are from the South East that has been wickedly short changed by your folks for years running. What is your purest take on: the 5 states for the South East? Designed plan to always thwart any attempt for the South East to have a shot at the presidency by your folks and your Yoruba confederates? Sustained unnecessary annihilation and, pogroms meted on the Igbos for no fault of there own on the Northern parts of Nigeria? I was thinking that your claim of purest intentions would have made some sense if you have considered the above questions as iron in the fire regarding governance in your “One Nigeria.” Let me tell you in the most plain language that I could, it will take you the Northerners an age to produce a renowned and international erudite economic scholar of Okonjo Iweala’s status. Thank-goodness for the “Federal Character…”
    I personally decided to do you a personal letter to enable you appreciate how much I’m firming about your your article on Okonjo Iweala as a Nigerian of Igbo extraction. No feigning about it, not atall. By the way, was that an apology or as usual a crass demonstration of frenemy? For me, I saw it as an apology apparent. I suggest you come out clean or forever keep your peace. Okonjo Iweala as a blue blood and an ivy leaguer does not need your myopic assessment of her current portfolio as madam Economic Minister to attract her plum respects the world over as a renowned economist. Simply because she descended so low to clear the mess your Hausa/Falany and, Yoruba confiderates had tucked Nigeria and Nigerians into for decades. Well, you are not far from what” One Nigeria” mantra of your folks represents. Sir Ikem writes from the U.S.

  • Ngozi as Okey Ikejiani?
    By Ayinla Mukaiba
    In Nigerian Tribune Saturday, 11 May 2013

    The psychology of power, or put differently, the psychology of the dialogical relationship between the “oga at the top” and his following, especially close subordinates, is that the former, overtime, tends to clone the latter’s ways of life, his mannerism, his way of talking and several other attributes, unconsciously.

    It does occur to me that Rotimi Amaechi’s real offence isn’t a clash with Goodluck Jonathan but his insubordination to the Villa empress in the Okrika stand-off some years ago. Again, if you study the psychology of power, one of the quickest and easiest ways of clashing with power beacons is to have a tiff with their wives or if the latter’s chemistry does not jell with yours. There are ample examples in history. When the biblical Mordecai sought to take vengeance over Hamman, Esther was his weapon. In no time, Hamman was hanged in the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

    Sorry, I digressed. My beef today is the harrowing fate of Mallam Yushau Shuaib, erstwhile publicist of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in the hands of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

    Let me paraphrase the matter as has come to my knowledge. I am sure very scant people who follow issues of our contemporary society would not be apprised of the man Shuaib. If there was anyone who has a burning passion for socio-political normalcy in Nigeria, it is that gentleman. Prolific, concerned about Nigeria, he could be found almost everywhere on the pages of Nigerian newspapers with his apt interventions and prognosis into the cancerous problems of Nigeria. At the end of those interventions, you would find an attribution, which I can almost cite by rote now, “Shuaib wrote this piece from Wuyeb estate, Abuja.”

    I have been reading his interventions since the early or mid-nineties. Shortly after, his name came up again as publicist to Alhaji Tukur, the pioneer Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. The journalists I have been able to interact with told me Shuaib was like a God-sent in that commission and was responsible for the blitz and rave review that the commission and its czar received in the media. Shuaib still never ceased to offer Nigeria and its government unpaid-for consultancy service of volunteering opinions on how to move Nigeria forward. As despotic as Olusegun Obasanjo was, this renowned public commentator’s views were never censored neither did anyone upbraid him for castigating the policies of government.

    A few weeks ago, Shuaib, as is his wont, wrote a piece in the newspapers criticising Okonjo-Iweala, the almighty czarina with a self-confessed panoply of knowledge on how to bail Nigeria from the woods. The beef of the piece was Ngozi’s perceived tendency to go the way of Dr. Okechikwu Ikejiani by staffing the ministry with Igbo, at the detriment of other tribes. Oh, you don’t know Ikejiani? He was Chairman of Nigerian Railways in the First Republic. At a time, there were mordant criticisms of Ikejiani for arrant nepotism. He was accused of stuffing the railways with his Igbo kinsmen.

    Indeed, a letter to the editor, published in the Sketch of 1964 and written by one Odafe Otihihiwa, entitled £11,000 for Ikejiani alone? puts the issue in perspective. Therein, Otihihiwa alleged that “serious allegations of nepotism and tribalism had been leveled…It is strange to observe that while we cry over unemployment in this country, people like Dr. Ikejiani are holding at least five different posts on an alleged total salary of £11,000… I also call on the Prime Minister to probe the activities of Dr. Ikejiani.”

    Sketch, in the same edition, carried a rather sarcastic story on its front page with the title, Yoruba nru, Ikejiani nsanra, meaning that, while the Yoruba race was going lean, Ikejiani (and invariably, his stock) were getting fatter. The S.L. Akintola government later released a White paper that detailed allegations of nepotism against Ikejiani, alleging that out of a grand total of 431 names on the staff list of the corporation, 270 were Igbo and 161 of other ethnic groups; of the 57 direct senior appointments made by the corporation, 27 were Igbo, eight were other tribes and eight others were expatriates. Twisting the name, Ikejiani, to a Yoruba adaptation, so as to suit his pillory, Akintola, reputed orator and very deep in Yoruba morphology, was wont to ask his audience, Ekini a ni, ikeji a ni—“the first (Igboman) would have, the second (Igboman) would have; what have you got?”

    What Akintola did that got him acclaim at the time, was what Shuaib did that has got him a satanic attack from the Jonathan government. Right now, Shuaib has been removed from NEMA, deployed and the government has ordered a panel to deal with him.

    While Shuaib’s observations may not be entirely correct, the reaction was rather too dictatorial.
    Some bunkum has been written in defence of this hitleric rout and ministerial intolerance. One, that as civil servant, Shuaib should have no voice.

    This is archaic at variance with modern governance. It is indeed why there is rankling hypocrisy and demagoguery in the service. As citizen Shuaib awaits his fate for speaking truth to power, I am still in shock at the bid to use hammer to kill a people’s person gnat.

  • Finally Okonjo_iweala has her way as the Presidency submitted her preferred candidate for Chairman of FIRS. Meanwhile today’s report in the press said it all when it is disclosed that Northern Senators are poised for a battle with President Goodluck Jonathan over his choice of Mr.M’fon Akpan as Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

    According to a report by Yusuf Alli of the Nation, the senators say the position should go to the North as against the South which,in their opinion, has been in the saddle for almost a decade.

    Besides, the Northern Senators are of the view that the process of selection that led to Akpan’s emergence was predetermined to achieve a political purpose.

    But they are insisting on the retention of the outgoing Acting Executive Chairman, Mr. Kabir Mashi, citing merit, having surpassed the revenue target of N3.4trillion to over N5trillion.

    It was gathered that the Northern Senators were shocked that despite informal consultations by the President with them on the slot, he still went ahead to pick a south south candidate when the zone has occupied the post for almost 10 years.

    The President forwarded his nomination to the Senate on Wednesday for confirmation.

    Investigation showed that the Senators immediately launched into a series of meetings on Wednesday and Thursday where they resolved to stop the President’s nominee from being cleared.

    A top source in one of the meetings said: “For almost a year now, we have been engaging the President in dialogue through some of our members on the appointment of a new Executive Chairman for the FIRS.

    “We suspected that the process was not transparent and we raised the alarm. Subjecting such an appointment to a skewed test process was in violation of Section 3(2) (a) — Federal Inland Revenue Act, 2007 that vested the President with the authority to appoint any person of his choice into the office.

    “In fact, a Northern Senator, who should be part of the selection panel, withdrew from the exercise because of alleged pre-determined agenda.”

    A high-ranking Northern Senator said the forum would oppose the nominee because the outgoing Mr. Mashi has performed beyond expectations.

    “Mashi shot up the revenue from about N3trillion to more than N5trillion from non-oil tax revenue windows alone. So, what is the basis for not retaining such a person?

    “We want to know why we have to go and bring in an expert from the UK to do this job when we have more than 800 chartered accountants in the FIRS.”

    Another Senator said the appointment of the new FIRS boss is against the Federal Character Principle in 1999 Constitution.

    The Senator added: “What is the rationale of giving the appointment to a candidate from the south south when the last occupant, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, came from Edo State. She spent two terms in office.

    “We are 58 in the Senate out of 109 and we have reached a consensus that we must stop the nominee because it is a breach of the Federal Character Principle in the Constitution.”

    A Senator said the Northern Senators’ Forum has been reaching out to their southern colleagues to “allow equity, justice and sense of belonging for all ethnic groups to prevail.”

    A government source, however, said the appointment of FIRS Chairman should not be politicised.

    His words: “This FIRS job is sensitive; it is about merit and not ethnic politics. A tested professional in the UK is coming to add value to what has been achieved.

    “The government engaged a competitive process in order to get the nation the best. No one is faulting the credentials of Mashi, but he is already due for retirement.

    “We have been on the recruitment process since September, 2012. This is to tell you that the government was painstaking without any hidden agenda.”

  • Okonjo, Nigeria’s Wahala
    Abba Mahmood

    Most people assume Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an Economist. Very few people know that she read urban and regional planning which makes her a town planner primarily and not an Economist. She came from the World Bank with the discredited and outmoded theories of the Bretton Woods institutions that have consistently failed every nation where these theories were applied. Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala was not satisfied with being Finance Minister, she added a nebulous title called ‘Coordinating Minister of the Economy’ effectively taking over the duties of the president and especially the constitutional duties of the vice president, as well as putting her hands into the affairs of virtually every federal ministry.

    No one would have cared if there was good performance. But the tenure of Okonjo – Iweala has seen the greatest plundering of Nigeria’s assets and resources. She dabbled into every aspect of the nation’s life, including going to Chibok to lay the foundation for classroom reconstruction when the community already had a school built by their state government and were only waiting for the federal government, which has the sole responsibility for security constitutionally, to help bring back their abducted girls, now more than a year in the hands of terrorists.

    Today, the power sector has been privatised but the government also gave those private companies billions of public sector money in the name of intervention. Power outage is getting worse by the day, meanwhile conclusively proving that the electricity companies were sold to those lacking technical or financial skills to raise efficiency. There are no jobs for thousands coming out of schools annually. And, to make matters worse, while the oil price was very high, there was no saving by the government, instead the savings by the previous governments were depleted very fast, with virtually nothing to show for it. The most scandalous aspect is that Okonjo just told the world that since January 2015 she has been taking loans to pay salaries and contractor obligations! Where is the money the government has been earning?

    Just as I was writing this piece, my attention came to a caption: “How Okonjo – Iweala misled Jonathan” over a N24.56 billion Federal Government Housing Fund which appeared on the front page of Nigerian Pilot newspaper of Wednesday May 13, 2015. The story went on: “Come May 24, 2015, the Series 3 Bond will be maturing with obligation on the federal Government to pay a whopping N24.564 billion to Note holders; and failure to do so at maturity, will lead to the call of FGN Guarantee that backed the transaction… but instead of worrying and seeking ways to avert the foreseeable danger, Okonjo – Iweala was said to have misled the President to approve the payment of a debt she approved under the Obasanjo presidency in 2006 long before Jonathan became president… Okonjo – Iweala advised the president to instruct FMBN to pay the debt, a development that poses grave danger to the liquidity of the primary mortgage finance institution”.

    “It was learnt that one Sunny Ayere of Dunn Loren Merrifield Limited, who happens to be the Lead Arranger and Adviser to the Bond, was an “Okonjo – Iweala boy.” He was compensated by the minister with his appointment as the managing director of a hurriedly created Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company, NMRC, a secondary mortgage institution ostensibly established to take over the activities of FMBN ‘to cover up the mishap in the 2006 / 2007 FG – guaranteed mortgage- backed Bond transaction”, the paper continued with the story.

    “Another associate of the minister is the Managing Director of Aso Savings, Hassan Usman, who was said to have covered about 87 percent of the transaction. On Okonjo – Iweala’s recommendation, he was compensated with a board seat at both Assets Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, and one other juicy federal government owned company…. Beyond the foregoing , one source advised that … DMO, and not the ministry should now assume the lead in resolving the saga rather than trying to undermine the agreements that gave rise to the transaction in the first place’’, the paper concluded.

    Okonjo is a Nigerian disaster that has already happened. It has turned out that she has been highly overrated. Her period as finance minister will be remembered as the worst in the history of Nigeria. She has mismanaged every sector and the economy is anything but coordinated. In fact there is no synergy or any coordination, but ad hoc arrangements and unending experiments with the lives of the people. She releases money at will to the sector or ministry she preferred. In 2015, for instance, the ten northern states that are affected by desertification were given only five hundred million naira but Bayelsa, the president’s state was given ten times that amount from the ecological fund, just because of boot licking and sycophancy. It is shameful and disappointing to say the least. Very soon, we will know the difference between armed robbers and pen robbers and know which is worse. History is on the side of the oppressed.

  • The economic hypocrisy of Okonjo-Iweala
    Imam Bello, May 15, 2015

    It is an understatement to say the economy is flat and Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who doubles as Coordinating Minister for the Economy, feels lack of foresight and financial recklessness on the part of state governments should be blamed for this. But, economic analyst IMAM BELLO says the minister is responsible for the crash. His reasons are presented in this article.

    Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy (CME) will be positively remembered for many things, including being our first female finance minister, the Paris Club debt concessions and the creation of the Excess Crude Account (ECA).

    However, I am sure that in her quiet moments, she will reflect that this is not her finest hour. Indeed, the last few months have done much to demystify the enigma that she has been presented to be.

    There are aspects of the current economic crisis for which she cannot be blamed. An example is the fall in global oil prices. However, there are equally some aspects of the economic crisis which must be laid firmly at her feet. Principal among the latter is the failure to appreciate that as CME, she is responsible for the entire economy – all its sectors and all its tiers.

    The latest spate of blame trading with state governors over who is responsible for salary arrears is an unfortunate reflection of a tendency to monopolise credit for positive feats whilst happily shifting blame when things go awry.

    The handling of the oil price downturn has raised serious questions about our economic management. In October 2014, with oil prices already falling, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala presented a budget with a benchmark price of $78. She later revised it to $65 and finally to $52. The annual budget prepared by the CME percolates down to the budgets prepared by the 36 states and 774 local governments.

    The shifting of benchmark created confusion in the lower tiers of government about the outlook. It is a well-known fact that in Nigeria, with the exception of a few states like Lagos and increasingly Ogun, the majority of states derive the bulk of their funding from federal transfers. Those transfers have fallen by 40 per cent since October 2014 – a precipitous decline.

    Despite the sudden decrease, the Federal Government, through the Debt Management Office (DMO), actively prevented any state from borrowing. In 2014, only one bond was approved. Short term loans were denied through the employment of rigid and punitive enforcement of a rule requiring Federal Ministry of Finance approval, which was routinely denied. Thus, the states had no real space to maneuver and readjust to the new financial situation.

    Meanwhile, the CME argued, rather self-righteously, derided the governors’ inability to meet salary obligations. Last week’s revelation that the Federal Government itself has borrowed more than N476 billion in just four months, majority of which was used for salaries, was a very shocking one. It is a very sad example of “do as I say, not as I do” -the height of economic hypocrisy.

    Similarly, on the subject of the ECA, which was designed as a buffer against the fall in oil prices, the CME has always blamed governors for their insistence on sharing of the excess crude that she would otherwise have wished to save. The “Greedy Governors” moniker was both convenient and appealing. However, her comments belied an inconvenient truth. Every time excess crude was shared, the Federal Government received the lion’s share of 52 per cent. The ECA balance fell from around $11.5 billion at the start of January 2013, to as low as $2.5 billion in January 2014 despite consistently high oil prices over that period. If the CME were sincere in her desire to save, it would have been expected that the Federal Government would have saved its portion of the ECA. Rather, it has not only spent its share, but it has considerably increased the nation’s debts.

    In Washington last month, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala congratulated herself on how Nigeria has been able to weather the storm. But a careful look beneath the surface shows a deep rot which if not corrected, threatens the economic future of the nation.

    Collectively, states and local government councils are the largest employers of labour and their inability to pay salaries means mass retrenchment looms on the horizon. Already, states, such as Ekiti and even the Federal Government, are embarking on verification of workers credentials. The underlying aim is clear even if not stated. It is a precursor to downsising the workforce.

    In many states, the wage bill problems originated from the Federal Government itself, who in 2011 mandated a minimum wage of N18, 000 per month. There was neither an assessment of the financial impact, nor of the regional costs of living variations which should have seen this function handled individually at the state level, as it is done in other federations.

    Those who implemented the requirements witnessed massive increases in their wage bills. In a recent interview, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun stated that his average wage bill doubled as a result of minimum wage from N1.7 billion to N3.8 billion monthly. The Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswan, has been honest enough to state that his state is unable to afford the implementation of the minimum wage, setting him on a collision course with organised labour. Large salary increases were manageable when oil was trading at over $100 per barrel but at $40, the proverbial rubber hits the road.

    The total federal transfers to states in 2014 were the lowest since 2010. It should therefore come as no surprise, that salary arrears have begun to accrue. Indeed a total breakdown of essential services is a very real prospect, in some cases.

    There is no room for “blame storming” during a crisis. The CME is responsible for all sectors of the economy. In a downturn, any sector that is of systemic importance must be protected. United States (U.S.) President Barack Obama raced to save America’s banking and automotive sectors, Nigeria did the same when the banks were threatened by creating Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). If there is a need for a similar move at state level, it should not be discountenanced. The CME must appreciate that there are no federal, state, or local Nigerians. There are just Nigerians. If the oil price has caused Federal Government to be in deficit, then it is wrong to castigate the states, that derive most of their income from that source, for also being in distress.

    Imam Bello, an economist, is based in Lagos.

  • Sunday Trust Editorial: The Sorry Record of Madam Ngozi
    10 May 2015

    Last week Nigerians heard gloomy economic news from a most unlikely quarter. Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has been assuring us for years that our economy is well run and is in good shape despite international vicissitudes, is now singing a different tune. She said mid last week that in the face of dwindling oil revenues the Federal Government has borrowed N473billion to pay salaries and fund the 2015 budget.
    The Minister, who was presenting details of the N4.493trillion appropriation bill recently passed by the National Assembly but yet to be signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan, said the federal government had to raise its borrowing level from N570 billion to N882 billion to enable it meet its financial obligations to workers and contractors. She blamed it on the decline in oil revenue, which she said accounted for a 50 per cent drop in total federally collectible revenue as well as low revenue receipts from non-oil sources. According to her, N380billion of the borrowing came from external sources while the balance was domestic borrowing.
    Her revelation that the Federal Government has gone a-borrowing came on the same day that re-elected and incoming APC state governors told President-elect Muhammadu Buhari that state governments are increasingly unable to pay their workers’ salaries due to the perilous economic situation occasioned by declining statutory allocations from the Federation Account. Many states, they said, have not paid workers’ salaries for one or more months and they seemed to suggest that Buhari should work out a bail out for them when he takes over later this month. But given what the Finance Minister is now saying, the incoming president too will soon be hard put to pay Federal workers’ salaries.
    This is not the tune that Nigerians were used to hearing from their all-powerful Coordinating Minister of the Economy, the first person ever to hold such a grandiose title side by side with the powerful Finance portfolio. At every turn since she took over her dual role four years ago Mrs Okonjo-Iweala had presented the economy under her watch in the rosiest terms. Attempts by critics over the years to question some official figures reeled out by the minister were always coldly rebuffed. She controversially “rebased” the economy and claimed that it is the largest one in Africa despite the stark reality of epileptic power supply, very high unemployment and grinding poverty which is the lot of millions of our countrymen.
    Earlier this year when former Central Bank of Nigeria governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo said the economy under her watch was mismanaged and N30 trillion had disappeared into a sinkhole in five years, the Madam came out charging, saying Soludo was the worst CBN governor ever. Maybe he was but the charges he made sounded to most Nigerians to have a ring of truth. He said, among other things that the minister was busy introducing austerity measures and gradually immiserating Nigerians while hemorrhaging public finance as 30 trillion naira was missing or mismanaged during her tenure. This amount, Soludo said, “has either been stolen or lost or unaccounted for or simply mismanaged under your watchful eyes in the past four years” mostly due to oil theft.
    Not only Soludo but when then CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alleged that nearly $20 billion in oil receipts were not accounted for by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] and other agencies, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala led the cavalry charge to dispute his claims. She claimed at a press conference that reconciled figures showed that the money was not missing. This prolonged cover up continued last year with the ordering of a so-called “forensic audit” of NNPC accounts by the accounting firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers. The report submitted by the firm was used for several months to claim that there were less than $2 billion in unremitted funds and that NNPC had been asked to remit them to the Federation Account. The Presidency never agreed to publish the report until it lost the last election and the President-elect began talking about looking at the report. President Jonathan then ordered the report to be published but everything quickly unraveled as the “reputable” accounting firm distanced itself from the report, saying it carried out the forensic audit without seeing bank statements. To compound the tragedy, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala then said she had no hand in appointing the firm to carry out the audit in the first place. This affair conclusively proved one of Soludo’s charges against her that she is quick to claim credit for positive achievements and is equally quick to shift the blame to others when things go awry.
    In short, after four years of managing Nigeria’s economy by this “wizard” she is about to hand over an economy that is in ruins, politely put. No one is blaming her for the collapse of oil prices in the international market but that after a cumulative 8 years as finance minister, public finance is so heavily dependent on oil that the Federal and state governments cannot pay their workers’ salaries says a lot about the quality of management she did. Imagine therefore Nigerians’ consternation when the minister recently tried to advise the incoming president on economic management. Speaking in Washington, DC she said Buhari should double VAT, diversify the economy and pass into law the Petroleum Industry Bill. She even advised the incoming regime “to reverse the ratio of crude oil-non oil contribution to revenue from 70%-30% in favour of oil to 70%-30% in favour of non-oil over the next 10 years.”
    Madam, you were the Finance Minister for a cumulative seven years and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy for the last four. What the heck did you do to advance the economy towards this goal? You should please shut up and let others try their hands at economic management. They cannot possibly do worse than you did.

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