In a democracy, the principle of accountability holds for government officials; whether elected or appointed by those who have been elected; are responsible to the citizenry for their decisions and actions. Transparency requires that the decisions and actions of those in government are open to public scrutiny and that the public has a right to access such information. Both concepts are central to the very idea of democratic governance. Without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible. In their absence, elections and the notion of the will of the people have no meaning, and government has the potential to become arbitrary and self-serving. (Alexis de Tocqueville).
James Madison opines that “A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”
Elections are the primary means for citizens to hold their country’s officials accountable for their actions in office. Prof.Okonjo Iweala is not a novice in public service; she is not naive or ignorant when it comes to the expectation of Nigerians from her when she was the Minister of Finance as well as the Coordinating Minister of the economy under Dr.Goodluck Jonathan government. When a public servant decides to abuse the trust, or when they behave illegally, corruptly, or ineptly while carrying out the work of the government, it is paramount for them to come out and clear their names without malice and grudges. Instead, the former Finance Minister has been using foul language to describe her numerous accuser and thereby insulting the sensibility of Nigerians.
The current Emir of Kano, and former CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; sent shock waves in the financial world when he told a panel of the National Assembly that the NNPC had yet to account for $20 billion of the country’s crude oil sales during President Jonathan tenure. For daring to openly make such accusation, former CBN governor was arbitrarily suspended and later dismissed by former President Jonathan government.
Ms. Okonjo Iweala’s reputation as a solid economic manager took a major hit. As a well-known former top official of the World Bank questioned her failure to detect the anomalies in the massive scandal in the oil sector. Many of her foreign admirers were wondering whether she was kept in the dark about the apparent theft of Nigeria’s oil funds or she deliberately paid blind eyes to the issue for the sake of her political survival. Rather than come out clean, she masterminded the government to hire the services of Mercury LLC, an image management firm that was hired by the Goodluck Jonathan government to manage the administration’s image. It was revealed that the Jonathan administration paid the firm an initial fee of $150,000 after retaining the company in August 2013. The firm retains the right to charge the Nigerian government extra cost for assignments of this nature. Ms. Okonjo Iweala has used the foreign lobby and image management firm, which is a big player in Washington, DC and other places, in a big campaign to repair her own dented image as well as help fix the Jonathan administration’s image crisis. Since Mr.Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was edged out, the entire investigation was swept under the carpet.
At the senate public hearing committee on the NNPC missing fund, Okonjo Iweala aligned herself with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources that no such money was missing, and at the same time; declaring her Ministry lacked the capacity to validate the claims contained in NNPC documents from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) showing how the initial outstanding $10.8 billion was spent.
In 2015, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, yet again delivered a ruthless evaluation of the Nigerian economy under President Goodluck Jonathan, ranking the administration “F” on Economic Management, and suggesting that Jonathan government is Nigeria’s worst as far as the management of the economy is concerned. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, apparently livid, described the former CBN governor as “an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space” who is “so derailed” to “commit intellectual harakiri by deliberately misquoting economic facts and maliciously turning statistics on their head to justify a hatchet job”.
Mr.Adams Oshiomhole; the Edo state governor has alleged that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala ‘Stole’ $1bn For Jonathan. Oshiomhole said the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy illegally withdrew the fund from the federation account for Jonathan’s presidential campaign. In her reaction, Dr.Ngozi, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, has stated that Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state is suffering from numerical diarrhea after he alleged that she took $1billion to fund the re-election bid of former president Goodluck Jonathan. She further claims the governor is after her because she blocked his ‘dubious N15bn loan’ bid.
Recently, the battle line between the Comrade Governor and Dr.Ngozi has seemed to be temporarily halted, but the latest victim of her venomous verbal attack is the person of Mr. Femi Falana. This is sequel to the ongoing investigation connected to arms purchase deal where monies meant for the purchase of weaponry to fight Boko Haram were dubiously looted by cronies of the former President and PDP. On January 24th, 2016; human rights lawyer Femi Falana; has sent a petition requesting the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, former minister of finance, for failing to “prevent systematic and widespread corruption” in the previous administration.
Once again in her typical reaction to series of corruption allegation against her, where she has been consistently asked by notable Nigerians to come out clean on the $2.1 billion arms deal in an ongoing investigation. According to Sahara Reporters, former Minister of Finance/Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala dismissed the well-respected legal luminary, Femi Falana, as “a tool of corrupt elements” whose interests were hurt by her anti-corruption fight while she was in office.
As the Finance Minister under Dr.Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Mrs.Ngozi has portrayed Nigeria economy as very strong. This was at a time various economic indices were showing signs of distress in Nigeria economy. As reported by Premium Times; Okonjo-Iweala, reacting to Nigerian speculation and concerns on the state of the Nigeria Economy, on Monday, June 10, at the third round of the 2013 ministerial platform in Abuja, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, spoke glowingly about the Nigerian economy, saying the fundamentals were strong and that the economy was buoyant beyond danger. However, few hours later, on Tuesday, when all the doors were closed, the minister sang a different tune. She told her colleagues in government point blank that the Nigerian economy is shaky despite the official fundamentals and that drastic steps are needed to save it from collapse.
It was in light of her distrust and habit of playing with official government statistics to shied herself that made Edo state governor; Mr. Adams Oshiomhole to accused her of deliberately using figures to divert attention on salient economic issues. It is high time Mrs.Ngozi owned up to her responsibility to stop using blackmail and casting personal aspersion on those that called on her to explain how multi-billions Oil revenues were looted under her supervision.
Indeed, she owes Nigerians explanation, instead of consistently accusing the messenger and leaving the message unanswered. Dr.Ngozi should stop acting as “the proverbial bird who after eating to its fill challenges it god into a battle” courtesy of Chinua Achebe. She should know; it is in the interest of herself and her moral values, even if she is very convinced that she had blocked every loophole to prevent legal indictment, taken advantage of Dr.Jonathan cluelessness and inability to closely monitor her activities.
As Prof. Tam David West; has rightly opines, “due to Dr.Jonathan lack of native sense, the former Minister took advantage knowing fully well that her principal will give approval to whatever Memos that is presented to him without scrutiny; because he trusted her to that extent. Today’s revelation has shown Jonathan economic team headed by the so called renowned Prof.Okonjo-Iweala was the biggest scam in the history of our nationhood.