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Corruption, Issues In The News

Corruption in FG Parastatals: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Committed To The Fight

The amount of money missing in the federal government’s oil-revenue account at the central bank has been the story du jour in Nigeria. Various figures have been listed as the amount of money missing. First it was $49 billion, later it was $10 billion, later it was $12 billion, and now it’s $20 billion. Perhaps this is why the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been a vocal advocate of an independent forensic financial audit to get to the bottom of the discrepancy between the CBN figures and those of the NNPC, an idea which seems to be gaining momentum.

Recently, she sat down with Will Ross from BBC to discuss the issue. What did she have to say? Below are key highlights from the interview:

In response to Will Ross’ question asking why the CME did not “blow the whistle” earlier on the missing amount of money:

1. “We’ve been blowing the whistle for two years….[The fact that funds were missing] was known…local governments to whom the money belongs, the state governments, and the federal government knew that we had been reconciling this money. Why? Because every single month we go public [with the financial figures from the federation acccount].”

2. “It is important to get this money back into the treasury….Who is working to get the money back? Who is setting up a system to make sure that this doesn’t happen?”

3. “You are Will Ross. You are British. Are you going to come to Nigeria to fight corruption for us? It will be very easy for me to sit at the World Bank and earn a nice salary and criticize. Who will fight it? Who? Will you? As a UK citizen? At the end of the day somebody has to give up something…..I came here to do my bit because I recognize that nobody but us, Nigerians, can clean it up.

So that’s what we’re doing and we have a track record.”

4. “It is not very sexy to build systems and institutions. It takes time. And nobody wants to discuss it, all they want to do is talk about personalities and who blew the whistle. But who will build the systems? Unless and until you have committed Nigerians who will build systems….that’s what we’re focused on…..If we don’t build them in this country, nobody will, and that’s what I’m here doing.”

5. “It’s not good enough to sit out there to have a wonderful reputation and [in] my country, nobody is fighting. We have to come in here and fight [corruption]. That’s what I’m saying. Somebody has to come in here and do the work.”

She also recently penned a op-ed in the Financial Times. In it she lists some of Nigeria’s sound macroecnomic statistics including:

-Inflation in single digits at 8%
-A fiscal deficit that is a manageable 1.9% of GDP
-Government debt that is 29% of GDP
-IMF projections of GDP growth at 7.3% in 2014, significantly higher than 6.2% in 2013.

She highlighted the recent privatization of the power sector as a hallmark of the industry transformations that will promote further economic growth. She also urged the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill which has been held up by foreign and domestic special interests. The bill, she argues, will transform the NNPC into more a commercial enterprise allowing for more transparency and accountability in its functioning.

CREDIT: http://transparentnigeria.com/news_entries/109/Committed-To-The-Fight

About TransformationWatch

TransformationWatch is an online news site founded by Henry Omoregie It is focused on keeping tabs on the Transformation Agenda set out by the Nigerian leadership in the Local, State and Federal Governments. My mission is to observe, analyze and report milestones or slowdowns in promised service delivery in all the facets of governance in Nigeria (2011 and beyond). Readership is open to all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria alike, regardless of Tribe, Religion or Political divide. We are all in this together

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