The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has responded to a report by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that she needed more time to answer the 50 questions handed to her by the committee on December 19 on the state of the economy.
Last week, Okonjo-Iweala likened the 50 questions on the state of the economy posed to her by the committee as an examination.
The committee chairman, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin (APC Kano), who described the statement of the minister as a vindication of the decision it took last year when it gave her two weeks to answer the questions posed to her, noted that “the minister appears to be taking the memories of Nigerians for granted.
“This was the minister who walked into the meeting with the committee and drew everyone’s sympathy the moment she feebly announced that she was not feeling well.
“Isn’t it curious then that when she was not feeling well, the minister was prepared to address 50 questions in a session that was to last just about two hours, and now that she is fully fit, and hale and hearty, she is saying she would need more time?” he asked.
He said with her recovery, “Nigerians would have expected her to tell them she would tackle the questions in 30 minutes!” pointing out that instead, she had chosen to avoid the committee for 11 months and drops the president’s name at will.
“It is a good thing that Okonjo-Iweala sees the task before her as an examination. The minister is nonetheless reminded that examinations have duration, and they are meant to be passed or flunked. However, we would not neglect to also remind her that there are consequences either way. There is a reward for passing and reward for failure. One way or the other, we would decide how she performs.”
A statement by the clerk of the committee, Farouk Mustapha, also observed that “It is regrettable that while talking to journalists after the presentation of the report of the 15-year strategic partnership on debt management between the United Kingdom and Nigeria, the minister accused critics of the huge domestic debt profile under her stewardship of lacking information. “Interestingly, that is why the committee invited her to share such information with Nigerians. It would also be an opportunity to let her know some of the things we know.”
“The Department for International Development (DFID) whose collaboration with Nigeria she is so enthusiastic about has published a report on the 2014 Medium Term Expenditure Framework. We strongly recommend that the minister enrich her knowledge with that report. We also call on the DFID to present the report to the general public for the good of this country. “Additionally, rather than all the speeches, why has the minister failed to heed our call for her to present an exit plan (timetable) for domestic borrowing three years after taking over as Minister of Finance?
“It is high time the minister realised that we do not need any other country to tell us that our economy is doing well, the least of which is Great Britain with its deep economic problems and huge domestic debt profile. Nigerians will positively feel the impact if their economy is really doing well as the minister claims.
“Nigerians need to be vigilant of an attempt to divert attention from the state of the economy presentation and 50 questions we demanded from the minister.
“We call on well-meaning Nigerians to support this effort by the committee on finance so that we can know the true state of our economy in order for us not to end up like Greece whose genesis of economic problem was the concealment of the true state of her economy.
“The committee seizes this opportunity to remind Nigerians that it remains focused and committed to its legislative responsibilities as it awaits the response of the minister to the 50 questions,” the statement concluded.”