…A failed co-ordinating minister for the economy
Ahh. It is now 8 days to go! I pick up the day’s newspapers and that sinking feeling hits me again. It would appear that people are tired of abusing my boss, Oga Jona and are now feasting on me daily in the press and social media. Honestly, until now, I believed I had a tough skin but these almost daily attacks on my personality and competence is becoming too much to bear. How did Oga Jona survive this for almost 6 years? Imagine, some people are actually suggesting that my woeful performance on the economy led to the resounding defeat of Oga Jona. Chaiii, I need some fresh air. How can? A whole me, Ngozi.
How can anybody dare to question my competence? How can they question my pedigree? What do they know about the economy? Don’t they know who I am? …A whole star like me. How many other Nigerians have been begged to come and become minister in Nigeria? Where were they when OBJ sent emissaries to come and beg me to leave my cushy World Bank job to become minister of finance? Have they forgotten so soon how for the first time since our independence I was able to I was able to negotiate a big discount on our external debt and cleared everything in one fell swoop? Where were they? Anuofia!
Imagine me, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Harvard University graduate. I even graduated magna cum laude with an AB in 1977, and topped it up nicely with a PhD in regional economic development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981. This is in addition to receiving an International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in support of my doctoral studies. Is that not why I climbed up the ladder very fast to become the first African woman to be its co-managing director. People who don’t know anything about the economy will be opening their mouths and talking cho cho cho. And even some people who I thought went to school like me even began to reason like the mob. Imagine Chukwuemeka Soludo, a failed politician, and Nigeria’s worst CBN governor joining them to criticise and abuse me. What does he know? He thinks we don’t know what happened during the banking consolidation. Mmm, not to talk of Oby Ezekwesili. Her own case is just pure jealousy. She was ordinary vice-president in World Bank, but I was one of its managing directors; I even almost became president. She has only been a minister of small small ministries for a very short-term while I have been begged twice with the plum job of finance minister and even now I am the co-ordinating minister for the economy, I am de facto prime-minister and I am bigger than her any time.
Because of their unending bad-belle, see what Wikipedia wrote about me: “However, following years of mismanagement under her watch, the combined domestic and external debt of the Federal Government is in excess of $40 billion by the end of 2014. Add to this the fact that abandoned capital projects littered all over the country amount to over $50 billion. No word yet on other huge contingent liabilities. If oil prices continue to fall, it was said that Nigeria will soon have a heavy debt burden even with low debt to GDP ratio. Chaiii. My reputation is being dragged in the mud. Even Buhari has joined them to accuse me of ruining the economy. What will I do, Chineke?
Well, If I were Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I would climb down from my high horse and realise that the whole world cannot be wrong. I would have realised that something has to be wrong when, after clearing Nigeria’s external debt under Obasanjo, I came back under Jonathan to start quickly building it up in geometric proportions. I would realise also that no economy can work optimally when local contractors are owed trillions of Naira. I would surely have realised that after lamenting upon my second coming as finance minister that recurrent expenditure was too high at 75% that I ought to have done enough to scale it down and increase capital expenditure rather than increasing the same recurrent expenditure to a ridiculous 85.5% in my valedictory budget.
If I were Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I would have realised the scandal in allowing appropriations for the same items, year in, year out in the budgets of MDAs and government institutions for kitchen equipment, furniture, cars, questionable training workshops and other items on the list that cannot possibly make sense to any sane person without crying ‘blue murder’. I would have realised that, as minister of the federal republic of Nigeria with added responsibility for the over-all economy, my primary assignment was to create an enabling environment for investors to create wealth and generate employment opportunities for people and that this was simply not going to be the case if traders kept receiving questionable waivers to import and dump goods in Nigeria.
After, proclaiming that we were the largest economy in Africa based on the rebasing exercise I conducted, as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I would have taken an anonymous walk across the major streets of Nigeria to see if that proclamation in any way made any difference to the army of unemployed across the country or the industries that were struggling to maintain their operations in spite of the challenges of inept and corrupt government officials.
If I were Ngozi-Okonjo Iweala, I would bite my finger in regret that I spurned Soludo’s offer, when he said I needed serious help because maybe if I had received some useful help from appropriate persons I would not have ruined Oga Jona’s chances at the presidential polls with a failed economy. I would have realised that if I had played my part well, Nigerians would have been so grateful to me that I may even have been encouraged to become Nigeria’s first female president.
If I were Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I would step out and apologise to Nigerians for my below average performance when it mattered most.