We Need Okonjo Iweala Back as Finance Minister

By Femi Hassan
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The nation is currently facing an economic crisis due to a plethora of issues. From the fall in oil prices, to the decline in the value of the country’s currency; the Naira, to the shame of the ‘padded’ budget (the first of its kind), and to the prolonged debacle in the passage of the 2016 budget.

One needs no soothsayer to know that the present administration has no clue on how to revamp the nation’s economy as it has shown time and time again that it is bereft of ideas and policies to turn the tide.

Nigeria has never had it this bad. Fuel queues are all around the place, darkness pervades the light and lack is evident as your walk around the streets.

In the Goodluck Jonathan administration, things were not this bad because he had a world proven technocrat at the helm of affairs managing the nation’s economy in the person of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is still the only individual to serve in the capacity of minister of finance twice. This she did under two administrations (Obasanjo and Jonathan). It was under her watch that on June 29, 2005, the Paris Club and Nigeria agreed on an US$18 billion debt relief package. Under no other minister has the nation cleared such a huge debt.

The present minister of finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun seems to be doing her best, but her best is not good enough as the nation is presently on a standstill; no movement, no motion. We are yet to see one policy that has been carried out to see her understanding of the nation’s economy.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala aside being a technocrat and a two-time minister has been in this situation before. In 2008, oil prices fell but because she had foresight the nation was able to weather the storm without having to cry or borrow from anyone. The citizens didn’t feel the heat because she saved for the rainy day.

In the Jonathan administration when the oil prices went up above the $100 per barrel, she urged and advised the government, including the governors that there was need to save. But no, the governors were more interested in sharing the nation’s national cake, and share they did, as they took her and the federal government to court.

APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu speaking on the issue in the Nigerian Tribune on Friday March 8, 2013 said there was no need to save for any rainy day, as citizens were drenched.

“For example, the accumulation of money by the Federal Government is a misplaced objective for these times. Our driving purpose must be to channel idle human and material capacity into productive streams that furnish jobs and manufacture tangible goods bettering the living conditions of every citizen. To say we are saving money for a rainy day while everyone is already drenched and wading through flood waters makes little sense to me.” -- Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The only way to save this nation is to bring Dr Okonjo-Iweala back as the finance minister because she has the technical know how to fix the economy having moved it to number in Africa during her second stint as minister.

I therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to make Dr Okonjo-Iweala the finance minister and save the nation from crashing.

Femi Hassan is a creative writer and a social commentator, and he writes from Lagos.

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