NIGERIA – Former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday said it was better to allow those managing Nigeria’s economy to do the best they could, noting that there could be solutions to the present economic decline in the country.
She also noted that she would not be available to serve the present administration if overtures were made to her by President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that Nigeria boasts of competent people, who would offer their services when called upon.
Okonjo-Iweala, who said this while participating in an Aljazeera programme: The Stream, regretted that the economic gains recorded in Africa started eroding a few years ago, noting
that solving macroeconomic question was key to fixing the continent’s economic challenges. She specifically said that having a firm control over the rate of inflation in addition to ensuring a stable exchange rate should be prioritised by African governments.
She said: ‘’ 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 live those managing the economy to do what they know how to do. There can be solutions.
“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. 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.”
Responding to a question on how the anti-corruption war was fought during her time in government, she 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.”
On her roles as a Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala said: ‘’The average life span 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.”