Should Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Resign? By Omoade Adelani

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister for the economy
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister for the economy

Omoade Adelani argues that calls for the Finance Minister’s resignation are from corrupt officials.

Let’s face it; corruption is at present the most popular culture in our nation today. It has been entrenched so deeply in our national consciousness that it now seems odd not to practise it. And anyone who sticks out his/her neck in an attempt to check it would likely have his/her neck chopped off.

So, it is no surprise that those calling for the head of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, are those whose means of livelihood are tied to the corrupt sources that are under ferocious attack from the former World Bank czar who is putting measures in place to block leakages in the system.

To have a proper understanding of my point, we need to take a mental flight from where we were to our present state. We live in an interesting time in the history of our nation. Things are happening so fast. While Boko Haram is wreaking havoc in the northern part of the country, our lower legislative chamber is clawing its way out of a mire of bribery scandal.

Let us recollect that shortly before the arrival of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala in the cabinet of Goodluck Jonathan in the latter part of 2011, the recurrent expenditure in our national budget for that year stood at an embarrassing 74%. But, she would have none of it, and  proceeded to reduce it to 71.47% in the 2012 budget, much to the chagrin of some vested interests. Still not satisfied with that, she affirmed that the sum would be further reduced to 68.66% in the proposed 2013 budget.

Mind you, this reduction in the recurrent expenditure started with cuts in personnel cost without the sack of any worker. What this means is that the minister has succeeded in checking the menace of ghost workers in the Nigerian system to a considerable extent. Yet, she seems not done, as she has also publicly announced her intention to keep reducing the recurrent expenditure from the present figure to about 50% in the coming years.

Let us look at the budget implementation palaver which generated so much heat lately. In a far departure to what was obtainable in the country’s finance landscape, where disbursement of funds to MDAs was much like a bazaar, the finance minister told us that she has instituted a due diligence process whereby all funds expended by MDAs have to be acknowledged and accounted for before further funds are released to them. This measure, more than anything, puts the MDAs on their toes, because subsequent disbursements to them are now tied to performance that would impact on Nigerians and not just the usual hoo-hah about grandiose initiatives which never got implemented, whilst taxpayers’ monies are stocked up in high interest-yielding private accounts of crooked civil servants, government officials and politicians.

In the wake of the brouhaha of this budget implementation saga, the minister is once quoted to have affirmed that, “the issue at stake is more than MDAs getting money. MDAs should get money, but only when the purposes for which they are released are accomplished  and properly accounted for. Nigerians deserve no less!”

This makes it clear that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala is as concerned as the social crusader next door that Nigerians get the best deal in budget implementation and not just media hype of projects that are only implemented on paper.

But, it seems our lawmakers see things differently. Their ranting about budget implementation betrayed their impatience with the finance minister whom they seem to expect to disburse funds without checks – they way it’s always been done in our clime. Perhaps, they can’t bear the thought of losing their cut from monies disbursed to the MDAs when they go in the guise of oversight functions.

The waves of checks instituted by the finance ministry also extended to the country’s goose-that-lays-the-golden-egg – the petroleum industry – where a clamp on fraudulent claims by oil marketers has pitched the minister against fuel marketers and their sympathisers in NUPENG. We could recall that, prior to this period, oil marketers were having a field day, as any claim brought forward were speedily processed and paid without a second look. But when Okonjo Wahala, as madam minister is dreadfully called by those at the receiving end of her reforms, arrived, business ceased to be done as usual.

At a press conference to announce the NUPENG’s intention to side with crooked oil marketers over dispute on subsidy claims, the president of the union, Achese Igwe, brazenly called for the resignation of the finance minister. To observers, the call for the resignation of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was quite ridiculous. Because, rather than commending her for ensuring that taxpayers’ money is prudently managed, the hitherto noble union chose to side with the “enemies of Nigerians” whose sole aim is to sap the nation dry.

The foregoing confirms the home-grown truism that ‘when you fight corruption, corruption fights you back’; and it fights back with  even greater vigour. It is, therefore, no surprise that calls for the resignation of madam minister are coming from those threatened by her determination to restore fiscal discipline and accountability in our economic system, which already has a global reputation for sleaze.

Since it is now so apparent that those against madam Ngozi’s anti-corruption stance are unrelenting in their bid to see her through the exit door, it is therefore imperative that those discerning amongst us rise up to join forces with the reforms army and resist the enemies of our collective resources and wellbeing.

We must be wise and know who is truly on the side of Nigerians.

Omoade Adelani is a Lagos-based social commentator.

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    enough said. i have nothing more useful to add.

    • eustace

      You have never had anything to add except hate at others who are from other regions, tribes or creeds. I feel very ashamed that you masquarading as an iboman to take unfortunate swipes at others whose only crime is that they r not from the southeast or southsouth. Ibos are pple without borders and your xenophobia does not represent their views. If Mrs Iweala were from the northern part of the country you will have soiled the net with your hateful comments which am glad most right thinking pple, and the Ibos that you claim to speak for, find nauseatingly primitive. Suffice to mention that Madam is doing a very good job ‘cos she is a good nigerian with an intent to serve.

  • NAGODI

    BLA BLA BLA THIS HAS BEEN THE MANTRA ALWAYS, COOKED FIGURES ON BOOKS REPRESENTED AS PERCENTAGES THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REALITY OF EVERYDAY LIFE FOR ORDINARY NIGERIANS. THE TRUTH IS THAT ON THE FACE OF IT NGOZI APPEARS AS THE MESSIAH NIGERIA HAS BEEN WAITING FOR BUT IN REALITY SHE IS CORRUPTION INCORPORATED! THOSE CORRUPT OFFICIALS THAT YOU CLAIM ARE FIGHTING HER ARE ACTUALLY FIGHTING TO KEEP THEIR MILLION NAIRA CORRUPTION PREVELEDGES. SHE OPERATES IN THE MEGA BILLION DOLLAR RANGE! A FEW EXAMPLES HERE, THE DEBT BUY BACK SCHEME, SUBSIDY AND FUEL PRICE HIKE FRAUD, THE NEPOTISTIC AWARD OF CONTRACTS TO HER BROTHER, THE LATEST AND GRAND MASTERSTROKE OF IT ALL THE SOVREIGN WEALTH FUND (SWF), STARTING CAPITAL $1 BILLION!!!. NGOZI IS WHAT A CORRUPT NIGERIAN OFFICIAL DREAMS TO BE, WITH INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIONS, OPERATING IN THE MEGA DOLLAR REGION WITH NIGERIAN POOR HAVING NO CLUE. OBJ GOT THE JOKE EARLY AND DISMISS HER, YOU CAN BET THE IMPOTENT GEJ WILL NEVER GET THE JOKE. PEOPLE WITH NO ECONOMIC BACKGROUND ASK WHY A RICH COUNTRY LIKE NIGERIA SHOULD BE IN DEBT. AMONG MANY PROGRAMS, GOD HAS EMBEDDED A CODE IN THE MIND OF ALL HUMAN TO SEE, WITHOUT PRIOR EDUCATION, SOMETHING ODD AND RECOGNISE IT. ITS CALLED INTUITION. IF IT DOESNT FEEL RIGHT, ITS NOT RIGHT. DEBT IS A BURDEN, NO NATION SHOULD BE IN DEBT. ANYBODY (OR SYSTEM) THAT SAYS DEBT IS GOOD, DOESNT KNOW WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT!