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Buhari as Petroleum Minister, Not the Best – Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala delivers a speech during the opening session of the Franco-African economic conference at the Economy ministry in Paris on December 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Kingsley Kanayo

Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has described President Buhari’s decision to name himself Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister as a move that is not in the best interest of Nigeria.

Speaking on September 30 as a guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, United States, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said “I think the president has the prerogative to do a lot of things, and this is not the first time in our country. President Obasanjo was also the president of Petroleum Resources in his time. I am not saying this is the best way or best practice but I am just saying for our circumstances it is not the first time,” she said.

She observed that if President Buhari as Petroleum Minister would improve Nigeria’s fortunes, so be it, but if not, “we will have to ask questions.”

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said as minister, she made efforts to improve transparency and fight corruption in the government, but regretted allegations of corruption directed at her after leaving office.

She also hinted that her decision to join the Goodluck Jonathan government — after serving in the Obasanjo government – may have been mistaken.

“When the opportunity came to go for it for the second time, I went, perhaps unwisely, but I went because no one will fight this corruption for us, we have to do it ourselves….,” she said. “But having left government, I have come under attack with people saying she’s done this or that, trying to join you in the group of the corrupt.”

She lamented the failure of the Nigerian National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, a failure she blamed on vested interests.

“This bill has the power to transform the entire petroleum industry where there is a lot of corruption,” she said. “And with that we would have commercialized the oil company (NNPC), made it open up its books but the heavy lobbying by both the domestic vested interests and the international vested interests blocked this.”



Copyright 2015 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to and other relevant sources.

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