Savings: I did not accuse Jonathan – Okonjo-Iweala
By Ehi Ekhator
The immediate past Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has refuted the widely misinterpreted statement credited to her concerning savings during her former boss, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration.
In a statement signed on Friday by her Media adviser, Paul C Nwabuikwu, the Minister denied indicting Jonathan and his administration under which she served.
Okonjo-Iweala had said that there was no political will to save in her second term as Finance Minister. She was quoted as saying ” This time round, and this is the key now, you need not only to have the instrument but you also need the political will. In my second time as a finance minister, from 2011 to 2015, we had the instrument, we had the means, we had done it before, but zero political will.”
In a reaction to the misinterpretation, the former minister said her statement was directed at the governors who opposed the idea and effort by the Jonathan’s government to save in the ECA and Sovereign Wealth Fund.
She said “Some recent media reports have distorted comments made by former Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala regarding how a lack of political will negatively impact national savings over the past few years.
“Contrary to the slant given by these loud headlines, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala did not indict the Jonathan administration in which she served.
“Rather, she was referring to what many Nigerians already know: the strong opposition by some governors to the Jonathan government’s efforts to save in the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund sabotaged this important national priority.
“The governors’ criticism of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s many calls for the country to save for the rainy day are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians.
“It will be recalled that this opposition culminated in the Governors taking the Jonathan government to the Supreme Court in furtherance of their position that the Federal Government had no right to “compel” them to save.
“Several knowledgeable persons including former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi have confirmed these facts.
“So the issue of Okonjo-Iweala indicting the Jonathan administration over this very public issue simply does not arise.”
Supporters of the present administration had taken to the social media since the statement was released to buttress their earlier accusation that the last administration, under the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan, emptied the country coffers