Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has dismissed resignation call suggested by some governors, saying Nigeria’s economy is doing reasonably well.
Speaking on the state of economy in a press briefing addressed in Abuja, Okonjo-Iweala said she is still the minister of finance for the country and works for President Goodluck Jonathan.
She rejected the governors’ call adding that she will not be derailed by political issues in discharging her duties.
“I will not involve myself in political issues with the state governors, we are here to manage the economy for the good of the nation and what we are doing here is based on facts on the ground. I am minister for the economy, am working for President Goodluck Jonathan and I am answerable to him. Do I look like someone who is preparing to resign? I am not resigning, I dey kampe. I have a very committed and dedicated team and so I am not going to respond to such issues,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
On Tuesday, members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum called on the Minister of Finance, who is also the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to resign her appointment if she knew she would not be able to adhere strictly with the Appropriation Act 2013.
They stated that the non-compliance with the revenue projections of the Federal Government 2013 Budget was also a direct breach of the provisions of the Appropriation Act, 2013. These decisions were part of the resolutions of the Governor Rotimi Amaechi-led NGF, which met in Abuja on Tuesday evening.
The governors also called for the immediate dissolution of the Economic Management Team.
Reacting to the governors’ claims, Okonjo-Iweala gave instances of a sound economy as portrayed in the fact that nine state governments have expressed interest to float bond from the Nigerian capital market. She noted that the state governments would not have had the confidence to float the bonds if the economy was unhealthy.
Commending the nine state governors who have shown interest in floating the bonds for the confidence they have in the economy by floating the bonds, the minister urged the citizens and legislatures of the states to monitor the proceeds from the bonds together with the federal government and the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC.
On macro economy, Okonjo-Iweala said Nigeria’s macro-economic fundamentals are strong with $46 billion in the foreign reserve and of this amount, $5.1 billion is in the excess crude account. She cautioned that the $5.1 billion in the excess crude account will be drawn down today after payment has been made from it to oil marketers whose payments she said has been due.
According to her, the economy saved a lot of money with the measures put in place to pay oil marketers as a fall out of the subsidy row in 2012. These measures include avoiding conflicts of interest, and the introduction of checks and balances.
The minister said that N2.2 trillion was paid to oil marketers in 2011 but after the measures were instituted and a forensic audit carried out, N971 billion was paid in 2012 and there are wrong indications that about N950 billion will be paid to marketers in 2013. She noted that inflation and exchange rate fundamentals have remained stable with GDP growth more than six per cent, thus making Nigeria “one of the fastest growing economies worldwide.”
Convinced on the soundness of the economy, Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that the September salaries of civil servants were paid yesterday. She added that over $2 billion has so far been generated from the sale of the Generation Companies and Distribution Companies, Gencos and Discos, and part of these proceeds will be used to pay off staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
Speaking on 2014 budget, the minister said that Nigeria has to prepare and plan to be prudent with its spending especially with the recent discoveries of shale oil and arctic oil. She, however, assured that the economy will further develop if the executive and legislature work together towards removing bottle necks.