by Tola Adenle

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala: With President Jonathan’s choice of Dr. Iweala, Nigeria has signified its choice of staying on the debt route. If Iweala knew that Nigeria needs “external loans”, why did she encourage and actively participated in the settlement of the old debts, a situation that drew applause Nigeria’s way? Nigeria seems doomed. It recently settled a N51 billion loan to London and Paris Clubs but the news reports claim nobody knows who took the loan!

I’ve written more than perhaps I should – because I write from a layman’s perspective – about Iweala’s World Bank’s position and her Nigerian citizenship to lay off the topic but Nigeria’s debts won’t go away. With her imminent headship of the Finance Ministry – again – I think the stage is set for more loans because she can be trusted by Western lenders who are her employer’s greatest customers.

What baffles me is why Dr. Iweala would want the job – pardon me, why would Jonathan want somebody so badly if the person would dictate her terms to him, to the country he rules. May be as borrowers who are beggers, we really do not have a choice than to hire the “technocrat” or lose the chance at more loans. I think all the talk about “technocrats” is an exaggeration of Nigeria’s needs IF the “technocrats” have to come from an outfit like The Bank which, as a commissioned agent of lenders like the Paris Club, London Club, etcetera, would rather somebody who sees loans as the panacea for a spendthrift like Nigeria is in charge of the Finance Ministry where she must be given a free hand on policy. Without the Nigerias of this world, these so-called “Clubs” would disappear.

In a country where ethnicity dictates how matters are perceived, I still must wonder aloud why Dr. Iweala would take the job IF she would feel hamstrung unless she can control economic policy and earn dollar-denominated salary unlike lesser mortals who must earn Naira and – pardon my usual skepticism – make up the difference any which way.

From the billions being reported stolen almost on a daily basis, it is apparent piddling loans such as $8 million for Water Sector Reform Project; $20 million for HIV-Aids; $12 million for PHCN AND when the former Speaker, Ahaji Bankole is alleged to have $1 billion in a domiciliary account – are not needed by Nigeria. Worse, the country not only takes IDA (a branch of The Bank) loans meant for the poorest of the poor but has taken GRANTS of under a million dollars! Governors take billions in loans that are not seen to have been spent on the state. Late last year, The Punch reported that “Nigeria spent N960bn ($6.4bn) on debt servicing between 2008 and 2009”, a couple of years after Iweala’s efforts got Nigeria’s name off debtors’ list – or so, Nigerians were made to believe. [Punch. Nov. 19, 2010”.]

In my opinion, Nigeria stands no chance of economic recovery if seeking qualification for loans is central to our economic policy while federal, state and local governments are plagued by massive looting. Active participants have almost always been fingered but are hardly given once-overs. Governors who took massive loans at the tail ends of their tenures against public outcries abscond after their terms or even if they hang around, are hardly asked whatever-happened-to-billions-under-your-watch.

In spite of her education, international expertise, etcetera, I say Dr. Iweala is NOT the type of person needed to head the Finance Ministry. If you are new here, please check out “Abracadabra accounting: Nigeria settles N51 billion London Club loan but none can tell who took it?”
Mrs. D. Allison-Madueke: If President Jonathan wants to be taken seriously about his determination to conduct Nigeria’s business NOT as usual and fight corruption or, pardon me, if Nigeria was another country, Mrs. Madueke would not be on his ministerial list for the simple reason that too many allegations are flying around about the woman. In the “other” country, Mrs. Madueke would not only have been forced to resign after the oil block story broke before Jonathan’s swearing in when she took off for a foreign trip purportedly for a medical condition but her name would not go near any ministerial list. Her name has also appeared on the Railways financial mess list.

The president is not only sending the wrong signals about merely mouthing things Nigerians want to hear but he is, at the same time, daring us to go jump in the nearest well that serves us in the absence of water taps. President Jonathan, MUST Ms. Madueke be a minister? If she must, would clearing her name first be beneath her dignity if information in news reports about her always seeming to get her ways at Federal Executive meetings – are to be believed?

Other Nominees: None spells c-h-a-n-g-e or h-o-p-e but above two are of the enough-is-enough, this-must-be- a joke-but-not-the-funny variety.


Blog elsewhere as Postscript:

Sahara Reporters

President Jonathan will answer to the people he rules

Submitted by tola adenle on June 22, 2011 – 09:10.

Pres Jonathan is the one who will answer for the way Nigeria’s economy goes, not any minister.  He should match his actions to his words about no longer business as usual.  Why would Dr. Iweala want policy control and $-denominated salary since she would be “helping” Nigeria?  Does her apptmt not speak of an Esau’s hands though Jacob’s voice since, by her job training, she must have the mindset of one to call for “more external loans” which she has called for despite having seen the same country through debt settlement and cancellations a few yrs bk?   The World Bank is a commissioned agent to Western lenders which will have more confidence in an all-powerful Finance Minister of a client state.  I do not doubt Dr. Iweala’s patriotism but more loans, then IMF.



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