The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has rejected an offer by the former CBN Governor, Professor Charles C. Soludo, to a public debate on the state of the economy and her tenure in office.
Okonjo-Iweala said though constrained to reply the ex-CBN governor over allegations that N30 trillion had been stolen under her watch as the finance minister, she would rather not join issues with him.
In a rejoinder to Okonjo-Iweala’s statement last week where she described him as the worst CBN governor ever in the history of Nigeria, Soludo, in the first of a three part series on Sunday, said the nation was in for a very turbulent time this year because the economy had been grossly mismanaged, under her.
However, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala while fielding questions on a Raypower live radio programme yesterday, monitored in Abuja, said Soludo’s claims “Is part of the misinformation that I want Nigerians to avoid. I don’t want to enter that debate. We have answered him, I don’t want to join issues and you don’t join issues when things don’t make any sense”.
On the forensic audit into allegations of unremitted oil funds by the NNPC whose report was submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday, the minister said the claims that she delayed the forensic investigation was baseless.
“There has been a lot of misinformation that is being put out and it is sad for me because people said in November I talked to the Financial Times (FT) in London and that the report will be ready in a few weeks and that is true. I have not been controlling this audit, it has been with the Auditor General because PricewaterHouse (the auditors) actually said that the Ministry of Finance has a position on the issue and they would also need to interview us.
“Therefore, there is no way that the minister could be responsible for this report and the neutral party whose job it is in government was appointed to take over and control, which is the Auditor General and I said that at the FT but conveniently as has persistently been the case, Nigerians have been misinformed, they left out the part that I said the Auditor General is in charge.
“I am one of the people being interviewed for it so there is no way I could be in charge. They tried to paint it as if I am responsible for that report. It is part of the packaging and misinformation in this politics and it has to stop”, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said.
Responding to a question of the state of the economy and if the country is broke, the former World Bank Director said “people have tried in the opposition to package this, they have been saying it. Three years ago they said the economy was broke, two years ago it was broke, now it is broke, they just wish the economy to be broke, they want to get Nigerians alarmed…Has the country not been running?”