Former Nigerian minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday said it was better to permit those managing Nigeria’s economy to do the most effective they could, noting that there may be solutions to the current economic decline in the country.
She also noted that she would not be around to serve the current administration if overtures were made to her by President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that Nigeria boasts of competent people, who would provide their services when called upon. Okonjo-Iweala, who revealed this while taking part in an Aljazeera programme: The Stream, regretted that the economic gains recorded in Africa started wearing away a few years ago, noting that solving macroeconomic question was solution to fixing the continent’s economic challenges. She specifically said that having a firm control over inflation rate in addition to ensuring a stable exchange rate ought to be prioritised by African governments.
She said: ‘’ one of the things you learn as you get wiser is to speak less as you get older. I have spent my time contributing to the country. It would be better to live it for those managing the economy to do what they know how to do. There will 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 2 years we have been experiencing challenges. We need to concentrate on the fundamentals which are macro-economics. You need to get the basics like having a stable exchange rate and having inflation in check.
“I served my country for seven years and it had been an excellent honour. The second time was very tough but it is still an honour. i am not the sole person who is a repository of knowledge. There are other people who can equally try their hands in running the economy.
“I will advise youth not to await employment. They should create jobs to employ 6 people or more. During my time in government, we had a programme known as You Win designed to support young entrepreneurs. The entire idea was to have a business plan competition.
“The plan was that they should create jobs and every created 9-10 jobs. The World Bank did an analysis of it and found it sensible. I do believe that the government should come in. we started a peer to peer mentoring. Now, one of the things i would like to mention is that creating employment is not only about struggles, it is about managing success.” Also, counselling people on accounting, bookkeeping and not falling apart is very necessary.” Responding to a question on how the anti-corruption war was fought during her time in government, she added:
“It was a very tough fight, i must give thanks to my team, you can’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 2 year in a country. Nobody likes a finance minister as a result of it is the business of saying no. it is very tough and challenging. it was fascinating for me. I wish I had seen myself as wielding power. All I saw was the job because i saw myself working for the country.”