Columnists like Sanusi Abubakar, who should ordinarily pass for ‘intellectuals’ appear to have completely lost it – they can no longer tell the difference between what is clearly white and what is so very clearly black. He belongs to a pitiable clique of social analysts who have succeeded in poisoning the media space.
In his latest piece, sensationally but unintelligently titled ‘Ngozi’s economic model destroyed PDP; GMB needs a different one’ which appeared in the Daily Trust on Tuesday, 5th May 2015, Sanusi deliberately ignored publicly known facts, twisted logic and forcefully tried to bring the name of Dr. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala to disrepute.
I do not expect Sanusi Abubakar to accept that Okonjo-Iweala has done a good job of managing the Nigerian economy. He and his likes have long shut their ears and closed their eyes to anything good that has the tag Okonjo-Iweala on it. However, facts are facts and they cannot be hidden. Under her watch, we now know that we have the largest economy in Africa that despite the steep fall in oil prices is still projected to grow at an enviable 4.8 percent. Under her watch the Nigerian economy has attained its highest level of economic diversification with the non-oil sectors like Agriculture, Manufacturing, Services driving growth; under her effective coordination, the Nigerian economy has not caved in, food prices are relatively stable, inflation is still single digit, salaries are being paid promptly after six months of suffering a 50 percent cash crunch from the fall of oil prices.
This economic model which Sanusi Abubakar questions has also seen the birth of strong government backed but private sector led institutions like the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) which is set to ignite the strong growth of small businesses.
These are just very few of the several economic legacies of Okonjo-Iweala. The world and objective Nigerians have all hailed these as representing good strategies for fixing unemployment and poverty in Nigeria. Even though Sanusi supposedly anchored his piece on the alleged “economic model” of Okonjo-Iweala (whatever that means), his prejudice was quite evident in his narrative. Not long into the write up, he went completely off his titled tangent and dedicated over 90 percent of it to his main objective: – to malign Okonjo-Iweala by forcefully linking her to controversial issues even when it is very evident that she had absolutely nothing to do with such.
Unlike Sanusi Abubakar who jumps off without a care about his name and runs purely on malicious prejudice, Okonjo-Iweala is a thoroughbred professional who understands the importance of reputation. She understands the power of a good name, something that is clearly alien to Sanusi.
The issues concerning the abuse of the fuel subsidy and import duty waivers predate Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as minister. When she resumed as the Finance Minister in 2011, she was confronted with the shocking fact that over N1 trillion had already been paid for fuel subsidy with over a trillion still outstanding. As a professional economist, she studiously went to work and initiated moves that eventually led to the setting up of a presidential committee to investigate fraud in the subsidy regime. Today, as a result of her efforts, the high level of manipulation and fraud that existed in the management of fuel subsidy has been substantially dealt with.
He will also not be ignorant of the fact that Okonjo-Iweala has within her time as Finance Minister undertaken a successful restructuring of the import duty waivers and substantially reduced the blatant abuses that characterised the scheme. He will also know that Okonjo-Iweala stopped the award of waivers to individuals who constituted the greatest points of abuse and has been using the waivers as an economic tool to spur growth of agriculture, power, manufacturing and other sectors. As a result, business opportunities have increased and jobs have been created. And all Sanusi can see is fraud?
I am also not surprised that Sanusi tried to make heavy weather out of the falsehood that Okonjo-Iweala has ‘disowned’ PwC, the consultants that handled the audit of the NNPC accounts. This is utter nonsense. It is public knowledge that she recommended the audit of the NNPC Accounts in the wake of former CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s allegations over the unaccounted for $20 billion. But it was the Auditor-General who eventually appointed the consultants, PwC to carry out the exercise. By forcefully and wrongly linking Okonjo-Iweala’s name to problems that she spent her time courageously fighting at great risk to herself and family, Sanusi Abubakar ended up showing himself as a mischievous man desperate to tar her image in the course of executing a hatchet job for vested interests.