Minister of Transportation and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi has replied former Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala over her claim that zero political will on the part of the then state governors to save under President Jonathan Goodluck was the reason for Nigeria’s present economic woes.
Okonjo-Iweala, since April 14, 2016 at George Washington University, United States of America where she spoke on “Inequality, growth and resilience” had consistently blamed the then state governors as those that frustrated GEJ regime from saving oil money, hence should be blamed for the on-going recession and not her boss, Jonathan.
But, speaking on One on One, in an interview programme on national television, on Wednesday, Amaechi said Okonjo-Iweala was only “partially correct.”
His exact words: “I heard Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala say that in the past administration, governors were unwilling to save; she is 30 percent correct and 70 percent incorrect.
“In 2009, we had an economic crisis, so, President Umaru Musa Yar’adua put $1 billion in the economy so, no one felt the crisis. I can’t remember what was left in that account, the Excess Crude Account.
“During Goodluck Jonathan, every month, when the governors went for the National Economic Council (NEC)meeting, the amount in the account kept dropping.
“If we asked about what happened to the money, the response we got was that the president approved for it to be spent.
“So, we said can we please share this money because the rate at which it was going, the president would have continually approved $1 billion to spend and we won’t know what we are spending on and they won’t give us an account of how it was spent. So, we told the Vice president (Namadi Sambo) and Okonjo-Iweala that there was a need for us to share part of this money and we began to agitate.
“They now agreed to share part of the money and they did. In the first six months of Jonathan, oil subsidy increased. Governors started complaining and then, we had a meeting in the office of the president’s wife.
“At the meeting, we asked for assurance that the Presidency would no longer collect oil subsidy and he promised. It is not right for Okonjo-Iweala to say governors were not willing to save; governors were willing to save but we insisted on sharing the money when we saw that the money was not properly managed.”
The former speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly said he agreed to serve as a minister because he believed in thisadministration’s capacity to serve.
“Refusing to serve when President Muhammadu Buhari invited me to serve would mean that I did not have confidence in him. I am serving under the president because I believe he is the man to help us at this particular time,” Amaechi said.