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Posts tagged ‘Okonjo-Iweala’

Okonjo-Iweala Releases More Half-Truths About Fraud-Ridden Import Waiver Scheme.


 

By SaharaReporters, New York

Yesterday, SaharaReporters wrote a letter to Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to explain her ministry’s questionable administration of the country’s import waiver scheme. Today, her Ministry issued a statement which “categorically refutes the allegation that it is running a corrupt waiver policy.”

Titled “The Truth About the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Waiver Policy,” the statement was signed by Ms. Okonjo-Iweala’s Special Adviser, Paul C. Nwabuikwu. It recalled previous editorials published by The Punch Newspaper accusing the government and the Ministry of corruption in the administration of the waiver policy, and challenging the Ministry to publish details of recipients of those waivers.

The statement claimed that the Nigerian government introduced a complete reform of the waiver policy two years ago, adding that waivers are now only granted on a sectoral basis. “This means that every company in the sector enjoys the same waiver privileges. All companies or entities involved in a sector or given activity will benefit from the same waivers once they meet the necessary criteria,” according to the ministry’s release.

It added that the Federal Ministry of Finance had never denied issuing waivers to the organizers of the African First Ladies Forum conference.

“This official event for First Ladies of all the other African countries necessitated vehicles for the transport of these visiting dignitaries. The waiver granted for this occasion is similar to other waivers issued to various state governments and government institutions such as Rivers, Lagos, and Akwa Ibom for similar official sporting and conference events,” said the ministry.

SaharaReporters stands by its position that the import waiver scheme administered by Ms. Okonjo-Iweala’s ministry is frequently manipulated and administered in a way that fosters fraud and corruption. Even though the minister authorized the publication of the names of beneficiaries from waivers, it was clear that the list was artfully doctored. The document was compiled in a way designed to feature names that would attract little or no curiosity. In addition, the document referred the public to the main page of the Budget Office rather than to a specific url containing the waiver information.

Besides, if any proof were required that the waiver policy was rotten, it can be found easily in the long-running scandal involving Aviation Minister Stella Oduah’s deal to purchase two BMW cars at the cost of $1.6 million. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala has admitted publicly that one the waivers she granted to the Lagos State government had been fraudulently converted by an auto dealer,

The fact is that Coscharis Motors, the auto dealer involved in the scandal, is a major recipient of import waivers from Mrs. Iweala.

We ask: Why has the Federal Ministry of Finance found it so difficult to release all the names of beneficiaries from import waivers, including public officials in the latest list? Why was the First Lady of Nigeria, whose office is unknown to the Nigerian constitution, offered waivers to import BMWs for a conference she hosted? And why did Ms. Okonjo-Iweala not question the fact that the First Lady then handed the waivers to Coscharis Motors Limited, an auto dealer implicated in some fraudulent deals, including Oduahgate?

In any event, Africa has only about 54 countries. If all the continent’s First Ladies attended the conference hosted by Mrs. Patience Jonathan, they would have numbered just slightly more than 50. Why were import waivers approved for 200 cars when 55 would have been enough? Were some cars meant to be given as take-away packages to Mrs. Jonathan’s guests or government ministers that approved the scam?

In its latest statement, the Federal Ministry of Finance claimed that it welcomed “all legitimate inquiries and criticisms” and that it could not be expected to remain silent when falsification and distortion of facts occur.

We insist—and the facts bear out—that the distortions are on the side of the Ministry, which seems to believe that Nigerians can be blindsided at every turn with half-truths, half-baked lies, and doctored information. We will continue to challenge the Ministry to tell the truth, to be completely transparent in its transactions and accountable to the Nigerian people whose money it is, after all. That accountability and transparency ought to begin with the release of full information on the waivers, not the piecemeal approach that has so far characterized the ministry’s actions.

Only when this is done can Ms. Okonjo-Iweala and her aides, known for doublespeak, hold their heads high and legitimately claim to have spoken “The Truth about the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Waiver Policy.”

Okonjo-Iweala Suffers Twitter Backlash – PM News, Lagos.


Nigeria‘s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
By Seun Bisuga

Minister for Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, suffered a public attack on social network site, Twitter this afternoon after she responded to harsh remarks made at her. Okonjo-Iweala’s twitter handle, @NOIweala was barraged by users after she allegedly tweeted in response to @OccupyNaija.

@OccupyNaija tweeted at the two-time Finance Minister in response to claims that House of Representative members walked out on her during an interactive session Thursday.

The report that the House of Representative members walked out on Okonjo-Iweala, is a report she claims is false. @OccupyNaija read “I hope you’ll honourably resign from that office you hold than embarrassing your person in the international world.”
Okonjo-Iweala’s response was “Thanks but you should resign from Occupy you nattering nabob of negativism.”

But her response did not go down well with many as she suffered attack after attack on Twitter.

@Akin_Official tweeted that he was disappointed she was a minister. “Really disappointed in u being a minister” and her response to him was “no problem get another one am not only one capable of serving.” Okonjo-Iweala’s responses also raised questions of her temperament. ‏@TempXXL tweeted “Is this anger?” and she promptly responded that it was “no just fairness.”

If Okonjo-Iweala thought her response were in fairness she was in for a surprise as @OccupyNaija who started it tweeted again. “When you get results of your careless utterance on Twitter, I hope 1 day, you’ll get it on the streets where it really matters.”

But there was more from others who felt exasperated by her tweet. @AFOketunji tweeted, “she is just talking anyhow.” while @KrissyPearlie wrote “Wow. #TwitterBrawlAlert All we really want is respectable, transparent & accountable public officers o,” tweeted.

There were claims that Okonjo-Iweala did not post the tweet claiming that perhaps her account was hacked but that claim was quickly punctured. @Solar_unique “What are you now trying to say sir? Her acct was hacked? Her PR guys goofed? @NOIweala” definitely one of d 2.”
Okonjo-Iweala got some respite from Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education who tweeted on her account ‏@obyezeks account. “I would bet any day that SHE did not post that tweet.) @NOIweala @OccupyNaija,” she tweeted.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: The Story Of A Vindictive Minister By Abdullahi Yunusa.


By Abdullahi Yunusa

Call her Nigeria’s de facto Vice President or Prime Minister and you won’t be faulted at all. For her sake, a peculiar ministerial nomenclature was created just to differentiate her personality and ministerial portfolio from others. She is no other person but the smooth-talking Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, an additional assignment that has no constitutional backing.

Most Nigerians know her more as “Madam Statistics”, who in responding to the cry of starving poor masses in a country literarily flowing with milk and honey would reel out statistics of Nigeria’s ‘bourgeoning’ economy. She is so familiar with statistics that she challenges even the unlettered to assess the President Goodluck Jonathan’s government based on verifiable statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics and not by the growing and biting poverty in the country.

She is a Super Minister. Her colleagues, based on directive from the ‘Oga at the top’, take whatever she dishes out, whether good or bad, hook, line and sinker. One can summarily refer to her to as the “alpha and Omega” of the Jonathan administration. Like the Queen of England, she does no wrong. The Finance Minister operates like the Lord of the Manor. While it is considered a taboo to go against Mr President’s directive, such limitation is not applicable to Mrs Okonjo-Iweala. Like a typical Nigerian “Oga at the top”, this former World Bank staff expects absolute loyalty from her staff, colleagues and people who are even older than her even when she doesn’t deserve it.

She’s so powerful a Minister that she could superintend over the affairs of ministries outside her jurisdiction. Yes, this untoward act can only be possible in a President Jonathan’s Nigeria. One cannot really explain a situation whereby a Minister in charge of the Finance Ministry could call for the sack or redeployment of civil servants in a different ministry for very unexplainable reasons! This is the question that stares many in the face. If one single Minister, obviously with the tacit support of the “Oga at the top” has the monopoly of knowledge and is armed with needed managerial and administrative acumen to oversee other ministries, then its senseless hiring other ministers to carry out similar tasks.

Having taken time to offer a few explanations on the personality of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala and the enormous powers she wields as Finance Minster and Coordinating Minister of the economy, let’s now focus on the issue this piece intends to address. As you read through these lines, two personalities from both the private and public sectors have since been controversially disengaged from service for very spurious and puerile reasons courtesy of our all powerful and indispensable Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. These two personalities were basically given this inhuman treatment for daring to stand on the side of truth and for blatantly refusing to call tricycle a motor car.

The two personalities in question here are Mallam Shuaibu Yushau, who until the time things fell apart was the Head, Media and Information Unit of the National Emergency Agency (NEMA) and Mr. Laurence Ani who until the period his employers, Leaders and Company, Publishers of Thisday titles suspended him, was the Saturday Editor of the paper. Though the ‘sins’ of these gentlemen are similar (they both chose to stand on the side of truth by refusing to call a spade a shovel), but the treatment they got varies.

Mallam Yushau, aside being a civil servant is equally a consistent public affairs commentator as his strong and objective views have become regular on the pages of local and international dailies as well as online sites. He believes in the potency of communication as a lubricant for oiling societal wheels, without which a society could grind to a halt. It is this realization that has continued to drive him to consistently offer his views on wide range of issues, especially as it relates to the masses. He combines this onerous task of dishing humanity with necessary information needed for personal growth with his official assignment as a Federal civil servant. To borrow from the dictionary of story tellers or feature writers, trouble started when Yushau, in line with his resolve to draw public attention to practices capable of igniting crisis in the financial sub-sector of the economy that he stepped on toes. As usual, Yushau innocently wrote against the gradual ‘Biafranization’ of appointments into public service by the Finance Minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. He didn’t only advise the Minister not to rubbish her rising global profile by stooping low to promote an ethnic agenda, but equally warned of the huge consequences of her actions. Ironically, instead of commending Yushau’s forthrightness and possibly get a pat on the back for the good done to Nigeria and herself in particular, the minster rather chose to wield the big stick or kill an ant with a sledgehammer.

Minister Okonjo-Iwaela swore never to allow this resourceful government information manager go scot-free. She vowed to use everything, including getting Mr. President’s approval to either sack Yushau or be redeployed to Borno state! Yes, that was the extent to which Madam Finance Minister took her anger to. Even though the public officer in question was not a staff of her ministry, she employed all means just to make sure that Yushau’s wings were clipped or completely chopped off. Informed sources at the Presidency said while the angry Minister of Finance wanted Yushau out of the public service radar, Yushau’s boss and minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Labaran Maku stood his ground that he couldn’t afford losing one of the ministry’s competent communication managers to an ego battle. His stance however didn’t go down well with Madam Minster and her collaborators who insisted Yushau must be dealt with. To calm frayed nerves, Mr. Maku had in his wisdom and in the interest of the nation redeployed Yushau back to the ministry where he held sway as the head of Features and Economic Desk before Yushau himself tendered his resignation letter.

As you read through these lines, Yushau’s promising, result-oriented and enviable public service of more than two decades has rather ended abruptly! For daring not to recant, for refusing to speak from both ends of the mouth, for stubbornly failing to call a rake a hammer and for choosing never to act like a coward, he left the civil service prematurely.

In all sincerity, Mallam Yushau Shuaibu hasn’t lost anything. His conscience, which he prides as his invaluable asset remains intact. Unlike others in similar circumstances, he chose to stand by the harmless advice he offered our Powerful Finance Minister. I pity the Nigerian public service for losing Yushau rather controversially. Undoubtedly, the Nigerian nation has invested much into this man, and when it was time to meaningfully offer himself for general good, power shylocks who felt personal interests supersedes national considerations ensured he leaves the service. I weep for my dear country. It is a sad development all together that we feel unperturbed losing our best hands for very selfish reasons. This is one injustice that all well-meaning Nigerians must all rise up to challenge. Silence would amount to endorsing the rascality of leaders as various levels of governance. We must all rise in defence of citizen Yushau.

Another Nigerian who is presently languishing at home, courtesy of Madam Finance Minister’s overbearing dominance is one Laurence Ani, the erstwhile Saturday Editor of Thisday Newspaper. Like Yushau. Mr Ani, a trained media manager refused to play to the gallery by reporting issues about the minister the way they happened.

What landed Laurence Ani in trouble was a report filed by one of Thisday’s business correspondents, James Emejo, which cited data that indicated a drop in Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. The report had it that Thisday publisher; Mr. Obaigbena had tendered apology to the Minister with a “promise to sanction the editor for daring to publish a story that reflected poorly on the minister’s management of the economy.”

As you read through these lines, Thisday Saturday Editor has been on indefinite suspension.

Madam Finance Minister is fast gaining popularity for the wrong reasons. Like a typical Nigerian leader, Madam Minister always expects media practitioners to be fair to them in their reportage. They don’t really care. All they want is to be praised even where they should be literarily taken to the market square for some strokes of cane.

For how long will Madam Finance Minister continue to use powers at her disposal to tear ordinary Nigerians who dared call her bluff into shreds?

By Abdullahi Yunusa, wrote in from Imane, Kogi State
Meetprofwillsyahoo.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Press Statement – Federal Ministry Of Finance – The Truth’s About Government’s Position On ASUU Strike.


 

By Paul C Nwabuikwu

*Okonjo-Iweala Is Not The Issue

Contrary to some recent media reports, the Federal government has not adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach in its negotiations with ASUU. Rather, the approach is focused on positive engagement and achieving sustainable solutions to the challenges facing higher education in the country. That is why President Goodluck Jonathan recently appealed to ASUU to respond to government’s positive steps by calling off its strike in the interest of suffering students and parents.

 

Despite this, for several days now, some elements in ASUU have been distributing pamphlets and flyers with abusive and inflammatory messages against the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in mosques and other places. This is taking academic unionism to a new low and infusing it with unnecessary politics. I am sure majority of ASUU members are not in support of this.

 

These messages are directed at using falsehood to demonize the Minister as callous and unsympathetic to the plight of students and parents. The major lie being peddled in the pamphlets and flyers is that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has insisted on a “take-it-or-leave-it approach” in the negotiations with ASUU. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is the daughter of two retired professors and her father is presently a member of ASUU’s Board of Trustees and has been one for a long time. She speaks with her father everyday on the issue so how can be insensitive to issues concerning the sad state of tertiary education in the country? She understands and sympathizes with the plight of both students and lecturers. She wants our children back in school as soon as possible. Remember she is a mother and two of her young relatives are sitting at home due to the strike.

 

This is why government is working hard, under the leadership of the President, to seek practical and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing higher education in Nigeria. The President has made available N100 billion a year in the first instance to repair hostels, laboratories and classrooms and other facilities. An offer has also been made to ASUU of N30 billion towards their earned allowances. In fact, negotiations have even gone further than this. This is the first time, in years of negotiating with government, that significant sums of money have been put on the table for ASUU and universities on this particular set of issues. The Coordinating Minister is fully part of this.

 

Against this background, ASUU elements who want the strike to continue should have a heart and rethink their current take-it-or-leave-it approach to negotiation. Government has demonstrated its commitment to improving the university system. And it is even ready to do much more going forward. ASUU should listen to the voice of reason and the yearnings of Nigerians on this issue.

 

 

Paul C Nwabuikwu

Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister and Minister of Finance

 

N:B: The pamphlet being distributed in some mosques in the northern part of the country is above.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

US economic shutdown to affect Nigeria, other developing countries —Okonjo-Iweala.


Okonjo-Iweala-03

The Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has expressed fears over the shutdown of the America economy, saying that it might affect Nigeria‘s bond trading in the international market.

She made the statement during a news conference on the outcome of the Commonwealth Ministers of Finance Meeting at the ongoing Annual Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary fund in Washington DC, USA.

Her words: “The present situation in the US creates uncertainty for developing and emerging countries and that is why we look forward to a swift resolution on the issue of a debt ceiling.

“If not resolved, it could upset the market. We could see higher interest rates that will directly affect Nigeria’s bond.

“As you know, we have not only the $500 million bond we floated two years ago but also the Euro bond.

“We could see the price and the yield of these bonds affected and that is why we need to have more certainty in the market.”

Okonjo-Iweala pointed out that the major focus of the meeting was on development needs of member-states, growth issues, job creation, increasing livelihood of the people and how to address the concerns whether they occurred in small or large member-countries.

The minister said: “But specifically, to get there we focused on issues of financing the post 2015 development framework. We are all engaged globally on the post 2015 agenda and how to finance the goals that will come forward.

“We noted that sustainable development financing needs are enormous and there is need for additional resources, if the financing needs of the developing countries are to be met.”

She stressed the group’s stand on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) which she said remains vital and called on the international community to meet its existing ODA commitment in a time-bound manner.

The meeting, according to Okonjo-Iweala, agreed on the establishment of a well regulated financial system, adding that member-countries were advised to adopt domestic resource mobilisation.

The minister further noted that most developing countries had already adopted domestic resources mobilisation to finance some of their projects adding that the issues on how to close tax loopholes, tackle linkages, extend tax pays and harness illicit cash flows and turn them around to finance projects were also issues discussed at the meeting.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Resign Now, CNPP Urges Okonjo-Iweala.


 

By SaharaReporters, New York

The Conference of National Political Parties (CNPP) has called on Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, to resign forthwith for deceiving President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement signed by National Publicity Secretary Osita Okechukwu, CNPP said it was outraged when Mr. Jonathan stated during his media chat last night how Dr Okonjo-Iweala brandished a World Bank Report which placed corruption in the 3rd or 4th position, after access to fund and infrastructure, as the key factors undermining Nigeria’s development.

“It is the considered view of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties {CNPP} that infrastructure deficit and poor access to fund are by-products of the monumental corruption going in the country,” the statement said.

“We challenge Dr Okonjo-Iweala to publish the said World Bank Report and resign; for we now know how inchoate and anti-people economic policy dished out by the two time Minister of Finance led to the failure and poor performance of ex-president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo regime and currently President Jonathan, adding there is no wonder the Nigeria Governors Forum called for her sack last week.

CNPP pointed out that it is trite that with the type of monumental corruption going on in the land for the past decade, in the midst of unprecedented Oil and Gas Revenue; gross infrastructure deficit, capital flight and poor access to fund was certain to be the ultimate outcome.

“CNPP is appalled that the Minister and others of her ilk exploit the kindness and gullible trust of Mr. President to fleece and milk our dear country dry.

“Otherwise, if not for corruption, what is the economic sense for a country to spend over $7 billion annually for importation of refined petroleum products; rather than building new refineries?”

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Conference said, has shown that $3 billion can build a 400,000-barrel per day capacity refinery in less than 3 years.

“CNPP goes further to ask, if not for corruption why have the Agege-Ota-Abeokuta, Lokoja-Abuja, Lokoja-Benin, Lagos-Benin, Lagos-Ibadan, Gombe-Maiduguri, Maiduguri-Kano, East-West, Port Harcourt-Enugu, Enugu-Onitsha and others roads not been completed? They were budgeted for year in and year out and government in its wisdom budgeted below prevailing market rate of oil price and yet uncompleted,” it said.

“If not for corruption, why didn’t the $16 billion spent on the power sector provide adequate electricity supply? If not for corruption, why is 75% cost of Zungeru Power on loan?”

It described as “uncountable” the examples of how corruption created gross infrastructure deficit, led to capital flight, devalued the Naira, poor access to fund, high interest rate, crippled social services, ASUU strike and Boko Haram are legion.

CNPP then called on Okonjo-Iweala to resign immediately for deceiving President Jonathan into believing that corruption is not the greatest of the cancers afflicting Nigeria, which must be stridently exorcised if we are to advance.

Only last week members of the Nigeria Governors Forum also asked Okonjo-Iweala to resign, citing bad economics.

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