Thursday, 7 April 2016

How my fight against subsidy fraud led to the kidnap of my mother- Okonjo-Iweala

In a recent interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, former Minister for Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said her fight against the fraud being carried out through the subsidy regime while she was minister, led to the kidnap of her 83 years old mother. 

Okonjo-Iweala said she had asked former president Goodluck Jonathan to remove the subsidy regime after the massive corruption in it was uncovered.

She said when her mother was kidnapped, all the kidnappers demanded was for her to resign.

“I told the president that we would stop paying(subsidy). What happened? They kidnapped my mother, 83 years. During the first three days, their only demand was my resignation. I was supposed to go on television and announce my resignation. This was one of the worst moments of my life. Can you imagine what happens in your head if you have to be responsible for the death of your mother? I will not go into details, but you must understand that in a country like this… in the fight against corruption, we must be prepared to pay a personal price. My father asked me not to resign. The president asked me not to resign. At the end, everyone began looking for her, and the kidnappers released her”‎she said
According to Okonjo-Iweala, state governors were opposed to saving the money realised during the oil boom in the past administration
"‎When I was finance minister the first time, the volatility of oil prices, and therefore state resources, cost at least three points of growth in the country. We then established a stabilization mechanism and opened an account for the oil surplus, which posted up to $22 billion. In 2008, when prices fell from 148 to $ 38 a barrel, no one heard of Nigeria because the country was able to tap into this fund. And that, I am very proud of. When I returned to the department in 2011, there remained only $4 billion on this account while the price of oil was very high! I tried again to put money aside. The president agreed, but the governors did not accept. I suffered a lot of attacks from them and now that the country would really need this account, these same people accuse me of not having saved! If Nigeria had been more careful, we would not be here today. It hurts me"she said.