Sacked political appointees after me – Okonjo-Iweala

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday alleged that the sacked political appointees were after her even as she described the assertion in some quarters that the nation is broke as mere political propaganda. She insisted   that, rather, it has been waxing stronger by the day.

The minister, who fielded questions on a live radio interaction, in Abuja, described those saying that Nigeria’s economy is broke as simply dwelling on propaganda, urging them to eschew hearsay and join in building the economy in line with the transformation agenda of the present administration.
Lamenting the propaganda, the minister rued that this has been going on for over a year now.

“It’s been over a year now that some people are making those comments; go and trace some newspaper reports and you will discover that it has been a systematic campaign by some people. But surprisingly, we have been paying our bills and servicing our debts over the past years.
“How can you say that the country is broke or the economy is not working when out of N1.7 trillion of personnel cost and wages, we have paid N1.3 trillion so far; salaries have been prompt. Just last month, workers got their salaries and wages on the 18th.

“Out of overhead of N248 billion, we have paid    N180 billion so far. On capital, we have released N850 billion with over 90 percent cash-backed, while 75 percent of that has been utilised by MDAs. We have been paying and servicing our debts as well,” she stressed.
She continued, “Yes, there have been crises over the allegation that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is owing FAAC N75 billion, that had been resolved, they have paid the debt and it has been disbursed among the three tiers of government.

“If you remember, I have been in the forefront of ensuring that the economy witnesses tremendous growth. When we had cashflow problems, inability to pay salaries as a result of budget amendment as well as oil theft, I shouted about it and some of them were resolved.”

The minister admonished Nigerians, especially politicians, not to misinterpret the issues of economic management, stressing that they should, “take away sentiments and say the truth,”  while also explaining that “Nigerians pay us, not to only to talk about the issues but also to proffer solutions to them.”
The minister equally advised politicians to tread the issue of the economy with caution so as not to overheat the polity as currently being experienced in the economic shutdown of the United States.

Further on the fiscal crisis, the minister said, “We have been discussing with the state governors and some of them have extremely shown understanding in trying to iron out the issues concerning the NNPC mineral revenue remittances. The NNPC’s N75 billion in question has been paid and the best for all of us is to continue to dialogue for good, instead of shouting on the pages of newspapers.”

She admitted facing challenges and pressures from politicians and appointees who were affected by the on-going reforms in the system, whom she said her ‘strong oversight on them’ had made it impossible for them to siphon the government’s wealth via the various loopholes created by either them (politicians) or circumstances.

“I have not relented in trying to block leakages, loopholes and save money to build infrastructure that Nigerians are yearning for over the years. Although I have had support from the authorities in trying to block these loopholes, there are some people who are working very hard against it. But we will definitely defeat them with the support from the Presidency,” the minister said.

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