The bashing of a former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, has continued with former President Olusegun Obasanjo joining the fray in his interview with Premium Times. The crux of the issue is not whether the former minister is innocent or not; but the inaccuracies contained in the latest attacks on her and other actors by the former president.
Okonjo-Iweala may have her weaknesses as all humans are bound to, but it is wrong to write off her extensive positive contributions to the nation under Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. Under Obasanjo, Iweala was no doubt a great minister who spearheaded Nigeria’s debt relief, she also did well in the last administration. At least Nigerians know that the oil sector was not under her care.
What is more annoying is the failure of the former president to say the truth about how Iweala joined Jonathan’s cabinet after the 2011 polls. The fact known to many insiders is that Chief Obasanjo recommended her to Jonathan. His proposal then was that Ngozi possessed the credentials to revive some of the reforms which he (Obasanjo) put in place but which were dismantled by former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Former President Jonathan accepted the nomination and on the strength of Obasanjo’s recommendation, Iweala was given prominent roles to play. Chief Obasanjo should have told Nigerians at what point he parted ways with his goddaughter. Those in the know will tell you that her refusal to rise against Jonathan was responsible for the rift. Obasanjo had expected all his godsons and goddaughters to support him in his attacks on Jonathan. Iweala refused and that is what caused the disagreement between them.
The inaccuracies in the interview are not just about Dr Iweala, but the case of Chief Emeka Offor is another point that needs correction. Most Nigerians are aware that the ‘controversial’ Turn Around Maintenance of the Port Harcourt refinery was awarded to Chrome Consortium put together with some Romanian companies, before the Obasanjo presidency.
At the conclusion of the project, certificates of completion representing different components of the turnaround maintenance were issued. The certificates were dated between July 25, 1999 and October 31, 2000 and duly endorsed by NNPC directors responsible for the project, as well as the representatives of Shell. All these certificates were duly issued during Obasanjo’s presidency and they were also in public domain.
How can the former leader now turn around to accuse Chrome of not doing a job for which certificates of completion were duly issued by his government? Is it not unfair to attempt to hold Chrome responsible for the state of the Port Harcourt refinery and for a job completed as early as year 2000? So is the father of the nation indicting himself or merely playing his usual game of twisting the facts?
It is ridiculous that the former leader also said he could not do anything to Offor because he has the police and people around him. How can a president claim powerlessness to touch a citizen because he has the police and the people? The fact is that he was aware that Offor’s firm had done the job and so could not have been harassed in any way.
Those who know the former president very well are quick to say that the purpose of the interview was to seek attention. Chief Obasanjo likes to be in the spotlight all the time. And it does not matter at whose expense or whose name he falsely drags into the mud to stir controversy.
Whatever anybody may say about Iweala, she has made her mark as a finance minister that introduced far reaching reforms in Nigeria’s public life. Even after office, her reform initiatives stand firmly, as is evident in the single treasury account, integrated payroll systems, GDP rebasing, sovereign wealth fund among others.
For those who enjoyed this sadistic conduct of destroying notable national figures, we pray that the Ota farmer does not turn his gun against the new President, Muhammadu Buhari, who is widely acclaimed to be a man of integrity. For the reading public, maybe it is time we choose what to read and what to believe.
* Sadiq sent this piece from Kaduna