Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, world renowned economist and a former two-time finance minister of Nigeria, has said she is unavailable to serve in the present administration if approaches were made to her by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala revealed on Aljazeera’s programme, The Stream, aired on Monday, September 12, 2016 that Nigeria boasts of competent people, who would offer their services when called upon, hence it was better to allow those managing Nigeria’s economy to do the best they could.
“One of the things you learn as you get wiser is to talk less as you grow older. I have spent my time contributing to the country. It will be better to leave those managing the economy to do what they know how to do,” Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director said. “There can be solutions.”
She categorically said that she would be unavailable if called upon by the Buhari government.
Okonjo-Iweala regretted that the economic gains recorded in Africa started eroding a few years ago.
However, she noted that solving macroeconomic question was key to fixing the continent’s economic challenges, adding that having a firm control over the rate of inflation in addition to ensuring a stable exchange rate should be prioritised by African governments.
“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,” the Harvard Ph.D. said.
“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 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.
“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 9-10 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.
“Also, counseling people on accounting, bookkeeping and not falling apart is very important.”
Reliving her role as finance minister of Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala, she said it was an interesting experience and she outlasted the typical lifespan for a finance minister in Nigeria.
“The average lifespan of a finance minister is two year in a country. No one likes a finance minister because it is the business of saying no. It is very difficult and challenging. It was interesting for me. I wish I had seen myself as wielding power. All I saw was the job because I was seeing myself working for the country,” she said.
In her response to a question on how the anti-corruption war was fought during her time in government, Okonjo-Iweala said, “It was a very tough fight, I must thank my team, you don’t do it alone, I had the support of an economic team in the ministry of finance. It was tough because at the end of the day you need to have some principles.
She added that the best way to fight corruption is by employing technology and building institutions.