EXCLUSIVE: Okonjo-Iweala opens up, says Nigeria economy in danger

Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

On Monday, June 10, at the third round of the 2013 ministerial platform in Abuja, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, spoke glowingly about the Nigerian economy, saying the fundamentals were strong and that the economy was buoyant beyond danger.

But a few hours later, on Tuesday, when all the doors were closed, the minister sang a different tune. She told her colleagues in government point blank that the Nigerian economy is shaky despite the official fundamentals and that drastic steps are needed to save it from collapse.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala spoke at the 50th meeting of the 15-member Federal Government Economic Implementation Team held behind closed-doors at the presidential villa.

The implementation team is headed by the minister, and meets every week. It was established by President Goodluck Jonathan to oversee the effective implementation of decisions of the Economic Management Team chaired by the president.

Other members of the committee are the Ministers of Petroleum Resources, Power, Agriculture, Trade & Investment, Works and Health as well as the Ministers of State for Finance and Health, the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, the Special Adviser to the President (Monitoring & Evaluation), the Director-General of the Budget Office, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise and a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a presidency source said, the minister painted a gloomy picture of the economy and hinted that there was an urgent need for “stringent budgetary measures” to arrest the downward slide.

Although the meeting was convened to review the government’s plan to create 3.5 million jobs in the agriculture sector and consider the report of a subcommittee on the automotive industry, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala could not hold back on the disturbing prospect of the economy.

The minister explained that crude oil production now hovers around a disturbing 1.3 million barrels per day,  a figure far lower than that seen during the height of the protracted militancy in the Niger Delta.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC,  had on April 18 reported a drop in crude oil production in the first quarter of 2013, January to March, which cost Nigeria a loss of crude oil revenue to the tune of $1.23 billion (N190 billion). That loss is now set to continue and the country might not be able to meet its obligation to its customers.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala also informed the meeting that crude oil theft had continued unabated and was at its highest level ever despite the best effort by government to stem the tide.

Nigeria is estimated to lose about $6 billion annually to crude theft and the development, the minister lamented, is now severely hurting the economy.

The administration has paid several billions of naira to former Niger Delta militants to guard oil installations and block oil theft. But if anything, the situation has worsened.

At the meeting, the minister also predicted a further dip in national revenue following the increase in shale gas production around the world, a situation she said would definitely have serious adverse effect on oil prices and sales.

Shale gas, according to Wikipedia, is natural gas found trapped within shale formations and has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the United States and the rest of the world.

Shale gas now provides over  20 percent of U.S. natural gas need and that figure is set to rise to 46 percent by 2035, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala hinted that as more and more countries depend on shale gas, the demand for Nigeria’s oil and gas would drop, with a corresponding dramatic drop in revenue.

The minister also lamented that the situation with the economy was not helped by the lack of accountability at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, saying the corporation had refused to render returns for its share of crude oil for local refining.

She thereafter informed her colleagues that beginning with the 2014 budget, there would be stringent budgetary measures and a lot of belt tightening within the government, our sources say.

She did not provide details of what the drastic measures would be, said one of our sources.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala has never been this frank in the open about the economy and its gloomy prospects.

She has said on several occasions that the economy was buoyant and strong, with its outlook remaining great, despite the current global economic uncertainty.

On Monday, she spoke along that line, asking Nigerians to ignore critics who have continued to insist that despite government claims, the economy was not in good shape.


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  • ben

    This Govt needs to be voted out. Let’s try APC and see what happens.

    • Ide4u

      God Bless You!

    • Es3

      Try APC and you will have your worst nightmare ever!

      • Bunmi Asabi

        Es3, I guess the issue is the COORDINATING minister for the ECONOMY of a govt-PDP- that came out to PRAISE a PDP economy but WENT INSIDE BEHIND CLOSE DOORS to tell the truth that the ECONOMY is has a lot of problems. See what I mean Mr. Es 3?

        • Es3

          I see what you mean precisely, yes I really do???!
          What you mean is that ACN or APC would have done better with the crude oil sales and on coming to tell all that the economy is threatened by poor production of crude and sales???!
          Yes, I see what you mean and that you either have been deceived to believe or decided not to open your eyes to see that there is no singular difference among all the political parties in Nigeria! That ACN with Tinubu is worse than a malignant cancer and that with CPC in the same bed, it would be returning to “we own you, your lands and resources” mentality (common to the clique up north) that Buhari does not hide in utterances now working against him today!!!

          • tonireal

            There is a lot of differences, people. The ACN controlled states have the lowest unemployment figures in the country and they are the most peaceful. You also see far more infrastructural development and cohesion among the people. Family life is stronger there and they are generally much more at peace than other parts of Nigeria. Their governors are more creative. They also steal, of course, which is a shame, but to say they are the same as PDP is far from true.

          • Es3

            tonireal,
            Is it for real (reality) or it is the picture they are projecting that they want you to believe? Have you created time to check them out yourself and compare with that of other parties or that their propaganda is sufficient unto you?!
            I sure know better than what you want others to believe here. The good news is that you can also, if you so desire!

          • tonireal

            I travel regularly in southern Nigeria and have been to the north often, beyond Abuja, I mean. I know what I am saying by experience. It is not what I figure out or think

          • Peter2000

            There as much peace in the southwest Nigeria, as there is in the southsouth and southeast. The problems of crime ie robbery and kidnapping is everywhere in the south. The amount of development your find in Rivers,Akwa ibom, Enugu, Anambra, Edo and even Baylesa of late is not marched anywhere in the west, when Lagos is not included.

          • Enemona

            In all, Nigeria as a whole is in a state of coma. No state is spared,it’s a general downward slide. So you should all stop celebrating mediocrity!

          • Es3

            If you do as you claim here, you would have noticed some other states that the governors are doing relatively well in road and other infrastructure as well as in education, etc who are not ACN members?!
            Next time, check and compare that with what is obtained in Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti and even Osun?!

      • Bunmi Asabi

        Es3, I guess the issue is the COORDINATING minister for the ECONOMY of a govt-PDP- that came out to PRAISE a PDP economy but WENT INSIDE BEHIND CLOSE DOORS to tell the truth that the ECONOMY is has a lot of problems. See what I mean Mr. Es 3?

    • Foresight

      Try Tinibu and you are finished!

    • Peter2000

      We are seeing apc in action already. Look to Lagos with tax without representation, Northeast and Northwest Nigeria with boko haram. APC means death and destruction.

  • K.A

    Why won’t it be? When square pegs are put in round holes, when yours likes keep allocating unimaginable amounts of cash to yourselves almost on weekly basis, when it is obvious that most of you lacked the prerequisite knowledge and patriotism towards/manage the nation and why won’t it be when most you have millions of dollars stashed in foreign banks why you immediate constituency is bereaved of any development. No national carrier, electricity supply is in a sorry state, refineries are in a laughable state, so where has all the money generated gone? What a shame! God bless Nigeria.

  • Kayode

    I was a great fan of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala until now. The Finance Community must have seen her through and through in not giving her that international appointment. She has proven herself as one of Nigeria’s teeming pseudo (false) – intellectuals; practically incapable of modernising and diversifying Nigeria’s economy. They are given and take jobs they do not have the skill -sets to do. Okonjo-Iweala is clearly a conventional (text-book and rule-based) economist -totally incapable of doing new and original thinking her job requires. She has let me down very badly, for sure. Worse still she didn’t stop the hype but instead raised peoples’ hope only now to dash it.

    • Yusuff Bakare

      Kayode,
      You should know better. This woman has been a major target for vilification of
      every kind. This article is definitely an attempt to smear her image. Please don’t fall for it.

      • kingbaabu

        You’re clearly living in a fool’s paradise. Get ready for a rude reality check as the World Bank and IMF adjust their forecasts for the Nigerian economy in light of these revelations.

        • tonireal

          “Madam, you are in a fools’ paradise”! Those were the exact words of
          Richard Quest of CNN to our Ngozi Okonjo Iweala during an interview in 2006. She was affirming that the Nigerian economy was in perfect order even as Mr. Quest sought to pin her down with facts and figures.

      • Es3

        Yussuff,

        Kayode does not know that the report could have been cooked up in the first instance! That is, it is possible that the minister never said things the way it is reported here!
        Even if it she did (and the report not cooked), the reality is that the minister said what we all know already and that it would have a very poor helmsmanship on her part to discuss such details in the open and create unneccessary economic panic!
        We all know that production figures of the ‘almighty’ crude has declined below budget benchmark, that crude prices has been falling at the international market, that Shale oil has come to stay and export figures of crude has been declining, etc. So was the minister saying something different from what we all know already or she should have kept quite???
        Kayode should note that these concerns does not detract from the fact that the economy has been on recovery path for a while now but only that these new development has the potentials of threatening that economic recovery pace!

        • Okenna

          Hello Es3

          Have you heard about the fight for the
          actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
          Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafra
          facebook page.
          Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

      • Dan maikoko

        I will believe you if she denies or better still go to court to sue premiumtimes for lying.

    • tonireal

      I don’t blame Ngozi. Nobody, no economic wizard can run an economy successfully if the underlying politics is lawless and riddled with unbridled corruption. I mean, this is an economy where money is being stolen in trillions! No magic can keep water in a basket. She is bound to fail, even if she was Keynes or Paul Krugman.

    • Peter2000

      The problem with revenue and the mono crop economy you complained about has been here for 40yrs. This is the first administration to reduce Petroleum revenue as a function of government spending to 70%. Yes, the price of crude is heading downward, but the major problem is our production has dropped 600,000 against the projection of the budget. One lesson the people in NASS must learn, budget on the conservative side. When shell’s pipelines comeback online, the lost capacity will be captured. The demand for Nigeria’s sweet light crude will not diminish, no matter how many million barrels the Americans are producing. For refiners around the world is a matter of the numbers. Even america refiners will buy Nigeria sweet light crude before their shale, or canadian oil sand.

      Also, if the cost of crude keeps dropping all these high cost production from the US and canadian will simply shut down. Once again is a matter of the numbers.

      • Gidi

        Apparently, your knowledge of finance and oil market is quite limited. Ngozi is right in her assessment. Some of us that works on Wall Street and cover energy industry see this strategic shift coming, but our leaders in Nigeria seems to be incapable of reading trends.

        The oil market is shifting pretty fast. The Shale Gas boom is a game changer of epic proportion. OPEC is also worry about this. Why do you think ExxonMobil acquired XTO energy? It is purely a shale gas play to replenish depleted oil reserve and re-position itself for the future.

        Look around you in Africa, Oil is being discovered in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Kenya et al. This alone is a signal that oil glut is coming. Recently, China announce it will be investing billions of dollars to uncover Shale Deposit on mainland China. Nigeria better wake up now and tighten up. The economy must be diversified at all cost. It is a matter of urgency otherwise get ready for impeding austerity that will ensue.

    • Okenna

      Mr Kayode, Have you heard about the fight for the
      actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
      Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
      Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

  • Ojo Omosule

    Another useless fairytale from APC News also known as Premium Times

  • Ojo Omosule

    Another useless fairytale from APC News also known as Premium Times

  • samsteve DD

    Mr kayode: Please don’t be too quick to conclude. Don’t always believe with 100% everything you see in the press. It may or may not be true. However, she has the to protect the bad news about the economy anyway she chooses to.

    • Okenna

      Thank God Biafra is finally coming.

      Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
      Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafra
      facebook page.
      Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

  • Afam

    I have come to conclusion that Premium times are just after bad news in this country,tell me where in the world you have a country that so much depend in oil money with this fall in crude oil price their economy will not be in danger? it is not a news or bad omen in any way..it is a wake up call for all Nigerians both politicians and their media houses..

    Premium times where is the report about reduction of number of hunger in Nigeria you guys posted this morning? you guys have removed it and replaced it with bad news ….very bias media group..i pity you guys…

    • oilman

      afam_na_akpos1, It is our oil. No be so? We go drink am tire!!! Drink go!!!

      • Afam

        Am not talking about drinking oil or eating oil money,am talking about complete shift from over dependent on oil money will affect this country greatly in future if we still continue this way…

    • Okenna

      Have you heard about the fight for the
      actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
      Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
      Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

  • Badejoko Abdul

    You think I will believe this crap? Never! Anyone who heard her Monday speech knows that the facts are so clear that they cannot be distorted; not even behind closed doors. I see pure malice in this article.

    • kingbaabu

      Keep burying your head in the sand. Nigeria is in crisis but when well-meaning people like the gentlemen over at premium times try to point it out, short-sighted people come out of the cracks. If it’s not government apologists then it’s few petty tribalists who think the whole country is against them and their president who can do no wrong.

    • Okenna

      Hello Abdul,

      Have you heard about the fight for the
      actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
      Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafra
      facebook page.
      Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support. Jesus is our strenght and we shall conquer.

    • Sadinho

      Hello my friend, now that we have dived into and come out of the situation Mrs Iweala warned about, do you still think the article was malicious?

  • dele

    As my comments to her article (posted on saharareporters on the 7th June 2013 entitled “clarifying-nigerias-debt-position”) had stated, she was talking crap then and she now is comfortable admitting this in a private meeting with ministers. Whilst it is not her fault that shale gas is increasingly being patronised, it is her fault if she continually takes on foreign and domestic debt knowing that Nigeria will increasingly be under adverse pressure vis a vis revenue generation and our ability to finance such debt (until we have fully diversified our economy away from sole reliance on Oil and Gas).

    Iweala is clearly in over her head. she was micro managed under OBJ and had the support of a competent economic team. Iweala has been given great freedom under Jonathan and her inadequacies are becoming more apparent!

    • Okenna

      Dele, Biafra is on the way.

  • dele

    As my comments to her article (posted on saharareporters on the 7th June 2013 entitled “clarifying-nigerias-debt-position”) had stated, she was talking crap then and she now is comfortable admitting this in a private meeting with ministers. Whilst it is not her fault that shale gas is increasingly being patronised, it is her fault if she continually takes on foreign and domestic debt knowing that Nigeria will increasingly be under adverse pressure vis a vis revenue generation and our ability to finance such debt (until we have fully diversified our economy away from sole reliance on Oil and Gas).

    Iweala is clearly in over her head. she was micro managed under OBJ and had the support of a competent economic team. Iweala has been given great freedom under Jonathan and her inadequacies are becoming more apparent!

    • Okenna

      Hello my people

      Have you heard about the fight for the
      actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
      Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
      Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support and continue to pray for us. Time is now.

  • abayomi

    but this woman always says ALL IS WELL

    • Okeke

      Hello Abayomi/Hello Premium Times Reader,

      Have you heard about the fight for the
      actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
      Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
      Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

      • Okenna

        Hello Premium Time Readers, Pls join us in the struggle. Biafra is now or never.

        Have you heard about the fight for the
        actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
        Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
        Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

        • Okenna

          Hello All, Biafran are ready to go. Pls join us.

          Have you heard about the fight for the
          actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
          Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
          Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support and continue to pray for us.

          • Okenna

            Thank God we are going forward. Slaery is bad. Biafrans are about to leave the zoo called Nigeria.

            Have you heard about the fight for the
            actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
            Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafra
            facebook page.
            Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

          • Okenna

            Thank God we are going. Time is now

            Have you heard about the fight for the
            actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
            Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
            Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support

          • Okenna

            God is our guide and we ask all to join us in prayers.

  • Gidi

    It doesn’t take a discerning mind to see through the charade and propaganda of mid-term result peddled by GEJ administration. For some of us that works in the world of finance, and cover energy industry and emerging market, we know the game is up on high price of oil. I have argued many times, on forum like this, that there is a strategic shift beneath Nigeria, but only few care to listen. Our leaders can’t even see it. Even there is a panic in OPEC because of this Shale Gas phenomenon.

    I am glad Ngozi finally realized the threat Shale Gas boom pose to Nigeria future oil revenue prospect. While the oil price is still high today, Nigeria should be saving every bit of oil windfall and investing it in a productive aspect of the economy. Time is coming where the oil will be meaningless. How do Nigeria expect to feed the burgeoning population without making meaningful investment now?

    Government keeps pointing to high GDP growth, while that is a good thing, what they failed to tell us is why the GDP growth is not translating into reducing high rate of unemployment. On the other hand, when you unpack the GDP numbers, one will note that what is fueling the growth is massive government spending, huge borrowing, high consumption (Nigeria insatiable apetite for foreign products) and high FDI flow to oil industry. The economy needs to be structurally fix otherwise we are doomed in the future.

    Does anybody know how much government spend on bailing out the banks? They spend almost $35 billion to bail out the elites (vis-a-vis AMCON), who are not likely to pay back. If you combine this spending with the money spent by government on public workers’ including politicians, and subsidy fraud, one will realize that we are on a wrong path.

    One final note, why did Obama ignore Nigeria in his upcoming visit to Africa? If you are a student of Strategy and Geopolitics, the answer is there for you to see. A little secret, U.S President only goes to where they have strategic interest to protect. For now, discovery of Shale Gas is shifting balance of power, as such, Americans won’t be needing that oil anymore…

    • Okeke

      Hello Mr Gidi,

      Have you heard about the fight for the
      actualization of Biafra. Join us. God is on our side.RADIO BIAFRA;
      Log-on daily by 7pm(GMT) AND call +447831308376.Join Radio Biafrafacebook page.
      Biafra VS Nigeria court case comes up on the 25th of June @ the Federal HighCourt Owerri. Thank you for your support and prayers.

  • Dankas

    Okenna, why don’t you call for your people who are scattered all over our villages, towns and cities to first go back home (Biafran Land) star to enjoy what you’re bless with before setting up a Radio Station mocking hell of yourself. Leave Hausa Land (Sabon Garin, Kano, Sahara in Sokoto and host of Ibo markets in the North) before all these your parrot-faction. You think this issue of Biafra is a good bargaining power? You are wrong! please go ahead make my day! Wata kawai!!

  • BABAZARIA

    IS IT NOT HIGH TIME ALL IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER AT FEDERAL AND STATE LEVEL TELL US (NIGERIANS) THE TRUTH. THEREAFTER, DO THE RIGHT THINGS IN THE RIGHT PLACES, SO THAT THE LED WOULD FOLLOW SUIT. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH WOOOOOH!!! BECAUSE IT IS OBVIOUSLY CLEAR THAT NIGERIA IS GRINDING TO A HALT!!!!!!!

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Nigeria economy under president Jonathan installed leader of the economy team as led by Dr Okonjo-Iweala is an assemblage of embezzlers and micro-economic jesters who are hallucinating by claiming that the Nigeria economy was growing while unemployment skyrocketing up with no employment provision,no regular power supply improvement,Federal roads are death traps and
    youths and graduates president Jonathan created employment is motorcycles-commercial-Okada-riding.
    Nothing works in all vital national sectors while president Jonathan keeps deceiving Nigerians with falsified fake performance report card.

  • Sunday Dankwai

    The truth is that the NIGERIAN economy has been in backsling movement but the federal government always want to paint pictures as if all is well with the economy. An economy that does not put food in the table of common man,no electricity,no clean drinking water and at the same time the level of insecurity and coruption are sky roketing with out measures.Its good that they now decided to tell us the truth becouse all this time we know they lying.

  • Titi

    It is only myopic people that do not know that Nigerian economy is on a bomb shell. Where are the Jonathanians? is this news another fabrication by opposition journalists? For this man to even stay for complete 4 years as president it is a big insult on Nigerians. If u like please vote him for another 4 years

  • avi eduvwie

    i pray for the future of this country because under this current administration there is no future….