Why I Can’t Serve In Buhari’s Govt – Okonjo-Iweala

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - tonight on The Stream on Al Jazeera

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the immediate past Minister of Finance, has stated that she would not serve in the President Muhammadu Buhari led government even if invited.

READ ALSO: Stay Tuned! Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Features Tonight On The Stream On Al Jazeera

Speaking on Monday night during a programme aired on Al Jazeera, The Stream, Okonjo-Iweala, who was onetime, a coordinating minister of the economy, urged youths to take advantage of the economic decline and instead “create jobs to employ six people or more”.

She said, “One of the things you learn as you get wiser is to talk less as you grow older. I have spent my time contributing to the country. It will be better to leave those managing the economy to do what they know how to do. There can 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 two years, we have been experiencing challenges.

“We need to focus on the basics, which are macro-economics. You must get the fundamentals like having a stable exchange rate and having inflation under control. I served my country for seven years and it was a great honour. The second time was very tough but it is still an honour.

“During my time in government, we had a programme called ‘You Win’ designed to support young entrepreneurs.

“The whole idea was to have a business plan competition. The idea was that they should create jobs. And each created nine to 10 jobs. The World Bank did an evaluation of it and found it good. I do believe that the government should come in.

“We started a peer to peer mentoring. Now, one of the things I want to say is that creating employment is not only about struggles, it is about managing success.”

On her experience working for Nigeria and whether she would serve again, she said:

“I served my country for seven years and it was a great honour. The second time was very tough but it is still an honour.

She also noted that she would not be available to serve the present administration if overtures were made to her by President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that Nigeria boasts of competent people, who would offer their services when called upon.

She continued: “I am not the only person who is a repository of knowledge. There are other people who can equally try their hands in running the economy.

“It was an honour and a privilege to be able to serve my country twice as finance minister. The finance minister is one of the toughest jobs you can have in any country.

“I think whether a man or woman, the average lifespan of finance minister is about two years. And it was Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the UK, who told me that he had actually calculated it. Because as a finance minister, no one likes you because you are in the business of saying ‘No’ to even your boss; it’s a very difficult position.

“There’s a lot to contend with, and then when you are a woman some people may see it as this person is wielding power. In some societies, the idea of a woman having so much power is not really acceptable. So that gender element can set in.

“And for me, it was so interesting because I never saw myself as wielding power; I wish I had seen myself as wielding power. I never felt it; all I thought of was the responsibilities of the job, not of power. Planning every day to make sure things happened the right way for the country.”

“One of the things you learn as you get wiser is to talk less.

“I spent my time, I have contributed the best I could for the country, I think it is still one of the most interesting countries in the world, and it would be better to leave those who are managing it now to say what they will do.

“All I can say is that they have solutions; people in the country should not lose hope. Nigeria is a vibrant country; I love it so much and I know that it will come out of this strong.”



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