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Tuesday, 18 March 2014


'Ending corruption in Nigeria' - finance minister speaks with CNN

Minister for Finance and Coordinator of the Economy Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was a guest on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS programme on Sunday where she acknowledged that there was corruption in Nigeria but said that the fight against corruption must involve every Nigerian...
"No one can fight corruption for Nigerians except Nigerians. Everyone has to be committed from the top to the bottom to fight it. In our country, we need to, coupled with – by all means pursue those who are corrupt, punish them, you know, make sure there’s no impunity.  But that has to be coupled with something which doesn’t get as much attention, which is building institutions.  It’s unglamorous; it’s work that takes time, but we have to do it.  We have to put it in place.” she said.
The Minister was also taken up by the presenter on Sanusi's suspension. He asked her why Sanusi was suspended after he discovered that monies had been siphoned from the NNPC account of which the Minister responded that Sanusi did not say monies were siphoned, he said money was unaccounted for. Full text of the Interview after the cut...

ZAKARIA:  Listen in to our conversation.  I began by asking her why the central banker was suspended for blowing the whistle.

NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, NIGERIAN FINANCE MINISTER:  I believe that when you find problems, you should also find solutions.  I think the problem began the first time when he said that the amount that was – he never said it was stolen.  He said it was unaccounted for, was $49.8 billion.
And he wrote a letter to the president; he called me a couple of days after, to say I’ve written this letter.  And my first reaction was, that’s not possible.  We couldn’t be missing $50 billion as finance minister in this country.  We wouldn’t be able to function because that’s too high a hit.  Everybody would know it and feel it in the economy.

ZAKARIA:  There is some substantial gap.


ZAKARIA:  Right?  I mean –


ZAKARIA:  – the World Bank, I think when you were one of the managing directors, issued a report on the Nigerian economy in which it said hundreds of billions of dollars over the past 30 or 40 years have been siphoned off.  And so this would be a perfect example of precisely this kind of siphoning off.

OKONJO-IWEALA:  No.  I think we should hold our horses a little bit.  Sanusi please ask him never said the money had been siphoned off.  He said it was unaccounted for.
And hold on.  There’s a difference, because when he alleged $49.8 billion – and this was looked at, it was found that some of that money had really been remitted to the tax agency directly and his people were not aware of it.
So $16 billion was immediately accounted for that, you know, they didn’t seem to know the accounting mode of the agency, so that’s what I’m saying.
But there has been – there’s no doubt that Nigerians feel suspicious of the oil sector, that it has been regarded as opaque over the years and this is not an issue, you know, whether it’s $10.8 billion, whether it’s $1, you know, we can’t afford to lose any money from the treasury.

ZAKARIA:  But then why fire the central banker, a respected central banker?

OKOJO-IWEALA:  You know, Fareed, what I would like to do is perhaps focus on the economy, because I don’t think I want to get into this issue of firing/not firing.  He’s still governor of the central bank.  He has been suspended.  He hasn’t been fired.
But I think we need to focus on the central issue, which is no one dollar should be lost from the treasury.  Any money that belongs to it must be remitted.  That’s what we’re insisting.
And the president, we pushed for – he has ordered one yesterday, that there should be a forensic audit to determine where these moneys, that what is unaccounted for, is it the $10.8 billion that we are saying from the accounts?
We’ve been working on this for two years.
And you know, is it $50 billion?  Is it $20 billion?  Is it $12 billion?  What is the amount?  We need to know for the sake of the Nigerian people and he has ordered that.  So we want it to be independent; we want it to be well done, so that we can lay it to rest.

ZAKARIA:  So how do we – how do you solve the problem of corruption?

You’ve been in government twice.  You have a reputation for being extremely honest.
What would you do, if you had a magic wand, if you were president, what would you do to get Nigeria to get this cancer out of its system?

OKOJO-IWEALA:  Well, you know, Fareed, you know with that, there are no easy answers.  But there’s one thing I want to say and repeat.  No one can fight corruption for Nigerians except Nigerians.  Everyone has to be committed from the top to the bottom to fight it.
And I think there are two key things that need to be done all along, and it’s not just in Nigeria.  It’s in many developing countries that you need to do this.
But in our country, you need to, coupled with – by all means pursue those who are corrupt, punish them, you know, make sure there’s no impunity.  But that has to be coupled with something which doesn’t get as much attention, which is building institutions.  It’s unglamorous; it’s work that takes time, but we have to do it.  We have to put it in place.

ZAKARIA:  I have to ask you a question that is not part of directly your portfolio, but it is your government.
Nigeria has always had laws banning homosexuality.  But you advanced a further law which criminalized it so that somebody who is gay would have to spend 14 years in prison.
You also have passed – the law says that people who are in some way promoting gay clubs or gay discussion would be imprisoned for 10 years.  This seems an assault on a minority’s rights.  It also seems an assault on free speech.
Why is Nigeria doing this?

OKOJO-IWEALA:  Well, let me say this, Fareed, that, you know, we’re here in the U.S.  And it took 40 to 50 years or more under conversation of, you know, the gay community to get where the U.S. is.
I think that, you know, we need a conversation in the country.  We need evolution.  Ninety-six percent of people support these laws, but I think we need to unpack the laws, for them to see, you know, between being a gay person and between same-sex marriage because the two are compounded in people’s minds and there’s a strong sentiment against same-sex marriage, just as you had here before.
And it’s still evolving.  I think it’s a question of conversation, discussion, evolution, education and engagement over time, just as happened in this country and in Europe.  It’s not something that happened overnight.  So I would say withhold judgment and let us work on this.
ZAKARIA:  Madam Finance Minister, pleasure to have you on.

OKOJO-IWEALA:  Thank you.
ZAKARIA:  And we will be back.


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Editor's Mail

Love the article on Gaddafi
We must rise above tribalism & divide & rule of the colonialist who stole & looted our treasure & planted their puppets to lord it over us..they alone can decide on whosoever is performing & the one that is corrupt..but the most corrupt nations are the western countries that plunder the resources of other nations & make them poorer & aid the rulers to steal & keep such ill gotten wealth in their country..yemen,syria etc have killed more than gadhafi but its not A̷̷̴ good investment for the west(this is laughable)because oil is not in these countries..when obasanjo annihilated the odi people in rivers state, they looked away because its in their favour & day! Samosa Iyoha

Hello from
I was amazed to find a website for Africans in Hungary.
Looks like you have quite a community there. Here in SA we have some three million Zimbabweans living in exile and not much sign of going home ... but in Hungary??? Hope to meet you on one of my trips to Europe; was in Steirmark Austria near the Hungarian border earlier this month. Every good wish for 2011. Geoff in Jo'burg

I'm impressed by
ANH work but...
Interesting interview...
I think from what have been said, the Nigerian embassy here seem to be more concern about its nationals than we are for ourselves. Our complete disregard for the laws of Hungary isn't going to help Nigeria's image or going to promote what the Embassy is trying to showcase. So if the journalists could zoom-in more focus on Nigerians living, working and studying here in Hungary than scrutinizing the embassy and its every move, i think it would be of tremendous help to the embassy serving its nationals better and create more awareness about where we live . Taking the issues of illicit drugs and forged documents as typical examples.. there are so many cases of Nigerians been involved. But i am yet to read of it in So i think if only you and your journalists could write more about it and follow up on the stories i think it will make our nationals more aware of what to expect. I wouldn't say i am not impressed with your work but you need to be more of a two way street rather than a one way street . Keep up the good work... Sylvia

My comment to the interview with his excellency Mr. Adedotun Adenrele Adepoju CDA a.i--

He is an intelligent man. He spoke well on the issues! Thanks to Mr Hakeem Babalola for the interview it contains some expedient information.. B.Ayo Adams click to read editor's mail
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