The continuous bashing of former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala continues with former President Olusegun Obasanjo joining the fray in his interview with Premium Times. What is shocking is not whether the former minister is innocent or not; the issue is the inaccuracies contained in the latest attacks on Iweala and other actors by the former president.
Okonjo Iweala may have her weaknesses as all humans are bound to have but it is wrong to write off her extensive positive contributions to this nation both under former President Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. Under Obasanjo, Iweala was no doubt a great minister who spearheaded Nigeria’s debt relief and plus with minus, 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 indeed recommended Iweala to Jonathan. His proposal then was that Ngozi possessed the credential 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 the former President’s recommendation, Iweala was given prominent roles to play. Chief Obasanjo should have opened up further to tell Nigerians at what point he parted ways with his God daughter. Those in the know will tell you that the refusal of Iweala to rise against former President Jonathan was responsible for the rift. Chief Obasanjo had expected all his godsons and god daughters to support him in his attacks on Jonathan. Iweala refused and that is what caused the disagreement between her and Baba.
The inaccuracies in the interview are not just about Dr Ngozi Iweala; the case of Chief Emeka Offor is another point in question needing correction. Most Nigerians are aware that the “controversial” Turn Around Maintenance of Port Harcourt refinery was awarded to the 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 Baba’s Presidency. And they are also in public domain.
How can the former leader now turned round to accuse Chrome of not doing a job for which certificates of completion was duly issued by his government? Is it also not unfair to now attempt to hold Chrome responsible for state of the Port Harcourt refinery 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 police and people around him. How can a president claimed incapacity to touch a citizen because he has police and people? The fact is the President was aware that Offor’s firm has done the job he was given to do and so could not have been harrassed in any way.
Those who know the former leader very well are quick to say that the purpose of the interview was to seek attention. Chief Obasanjo like to be in the spotlight all the time. And it does not matter at whose expense or whose name he falsely drag 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 the Otta farmer will not soon turn his gun against the new president ,Muhammadu Buhari, who is widely acclaimed to be a man of integrity. For the reading public, may be it is time we choose what to read and what to believe.
* Sadiq sent this piece from Kaduna