Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, on Monday said having served twice in government, she would want others to be given the chance.
She was responding to the question on if she would like to serve again, having worked with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan for a combined period of seven years.
Speaking when she appeared on The Stream, a programme on Al Jazeera, Okonjo-Iweala also advised youths to instead “create jobs to employ six people or more”.
On her experience working for Nigeria and whether she would serve again, she said: “I served my country for seven years and it was a great honour. The second time was very tough but it is still an honour.
“I am not the only person who is a repository of knowledge. There are other people who can equally try their hands in running the economy.
“It was an honour and a privilege to be able to serve my country twice as finance minister. The finance minister is one of the toughest jobs you can have in any country.
“I think whether a man or woman, the average lifespan of finance minister is about two years. And it was Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the UK, who told me that he had actually calculated it. Because as a finance minister, no one likes you because you are in the business of saying ‘No’ to even your boss; it’s a very difficult position.
“There’s a lot to contend with, and then when you are a woman some people may see it as this person is wielding power. In some societies, the idea of a woman having so much power is not really acceptable. So that gender element can set in.
“And for me, it was so interesting because I never saw myself as wielding power; I wish I had seen myself as wielding power. I never felt it; all I thought of was the responsibilities of the job, not of power. Planning every day to make sure things happened the right way for the country.”
Asked what she would have done differently had she retained her office, Okonjo-Iweala said: “One of the things you learn as you get wiser is to talk less.
“I spent my time, I have contributed the best I could for the country, I think it is still one of the most interesting countries in the world, and it would be better to leave those who are managing it now to say what they will do.
“All I can say is that they have solutions; people in the country should not lose hope. Nigeria is a vibrant country; I love it so much and I know that it will come out of this strong.”
She also said the average lifespan of a finance minister is two years, saying that after two years, people tend to be fed up with the occupant of the office.
Responding to questions on Nigeria’s economic recession, Okonjo-Iweala professed love for her country and expressed the certainty that the current economic challenges would be surmounted.
“I have spent my time contributing to the country. It will be better to live those managing the economy to do what they know how to do. There can be solutions,” she said.
“I am not a typical politician. I went in as a technocrat. I think on the continent we have seen a period when the economy was doing well. In the last two years we have been experiencing challenges. We need to focus on the basics, which are macro-economics. You must get the fundamentals, like having a stable exchange rate and having inflation under control.
“I will advise young people not to wait for employment. They should create jobs to employ six people or more. During my time in government, we had a programme called You Win designed to support young entrepreneurs. The whole idea was to have a business plan competition.
“The idea was that they should create jobs. And each, created nine to 10 jobs. The World Bank did an evaluation of it and found it good. I do believe that the government should come in. We started a peer-to-peer mentoring. Now, one of the things I want to say is that creating employment is not only about struggles, it is about managing success.”