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Okonjo-Iweala: I said governors, NOT Jonathan, lacked the political will to save

Fredrick Nwabufo

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, says her statement blaming the lack of political will to save funds under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan has been taken out of context.

Speaking on the Chilean saving example at the George Washington University on Thursday, the former minister had said “zero political will to save in the last administration” was responsible for some of the challenges facing the country.

But in a statement issued on Friday, Paul Nwabuikwu, media aide of the two-time minister, said Okonjo-Iweala was referring to the opposition of some governors to the efforts of the immediate past administration to save in the excess crude account (ECA) and in sovereign wealth fund (SWF).

“Some recent media reports have distorted comments made by former Finance Minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala regarding how lack of political will negatively impacted national savings over the past few years,” the statement read.

“Contrary to the slant given by these loud headlines, Dr Okonjo-Iweala did not indict the Jonathan administration in which she served.

“Rather, she was referring to what many Nigerians already know: the strong opposition by some governors to the Jonathan government’s efforts to save in the excess crude account and the sovereign wealth fund sabotaged this important national priority.

“The governors’ criticism of Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s many calls for the country to save for the rainy day is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians.

“It will be recalled that this opposition culminated in the governors taking the Jonathan government to the supreme court in furtherance of their position that the federal government had no right to ‘compel’ them to save.

“Several knowledgeable persons including former Anambra State Governor, Mr Peter Obi have confirmed these facts. So the issue of Okonjo-Iweala indicting the Jonathan administration over this very public issue simply does not arise.”

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