Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s transport minister, has revealed how, as governor, he was begged by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala against giving the true state of the country’s economy during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the favourite of the Jonathan administration He said the former minister begged him not to tell the world that Nigeria was broke during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Amaechi, then governor of Rivers state, was considered a thorn in the life of the Jonathan administration in which Okonjo-Iweala served as the minister in charge of finance. She was also coordinating minister of the economy.
Amaechi said the country was actually in recession under Jonathan, but that the administration ‘padded’ the truth with excuses like the country was cash-strapped. Okonjo-Iweala had recently given the current administration an advice on how it can achieve effective diversification of the economy. According to the report, Amaechi said that Okonjo-Iweala, pleaded that if he continued to reveal the economic state of the country, foreign investors would run away from the country. “People just pick up words without knowing what they mean.
Even under Goodluck (Jonathan) we went into recession. “I am one of those who participated in the budget. “We looked at what happened in the past and we discovered that actually if recession means three times (three quarters of negative economic growth), we have done more than the three times before we came in. “The difference is that while our government is transparent and open, we are able to admit that, the federal government was saying even to me as chairman of governor’s forum, ‘Amaechi, don’t say that again’. “If you remember as governor, I said we were broke. The minister of finance came to my office in Abuja and pleaded with me that I shouldn’t say it again. “That if I said it, it would affect Nigeria in terms of investment; that investors will run away. That I shouldn’t say we are broke. I should say we are cash-strapped.
That was what Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told me. “So, I knew as chairman of Nigeria Governors’ forum, that we had gone into recession under Goodluck. “I knew as chairman of governor’s forum. And when I open my mouth to say it, that we are broke, she spoke to me not to say it,” Amaechi said. Meanwhile, the federal government, through Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the budget minister, has said the country’s planned relationship with China is not just for financial assistance but more importantly to tap from its transformation experience and to narrow the trade deficit between the two countries.