“You Are Corrupt”, FG Tackles Ex-W/Bank VP, Ezekwesili

January 27 16:25 2013 Print This Article

Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili

…How She Acquired Airtel Shares, 11 Choice Properties In FCT, With Proceeds From N458 Bn Education Funds

Former education minister under president Olusegun Obasanjo, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili must have touched the tiger’s tail at the University of Nigeria Nsukka’s convocation, on January 24th where she alleged that  the governments of presidents Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, squandered $67 billion in foreign reserve.

In response to Ezekwesili’s statement, the Federal Government not only said her allegations were “outlandish and clearly fictitious”, but queried her tenure as education minister where she received N458.1 billion between 2006 and 2007 and yet nothing to show in terms of achievements.

The government also referred to her statement on the decay in education sector as “self-indictment” and hypocritical, wondering why she suddenly has solution to the problem facing the sector after she left office yet failed to do so while in office.

Investigation by FrontiersNews revealed that through the connivance of her intimate friend and colleague, Mr Ahmed el-Rufai, the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the embattled Ezekwesili acquired 10 choice properties in Abuja.

According to our source, this is in addition to a five hectares of land which she corruptly acquired for the purpose of going into estate business, only to convert it to a church for her husband. 

The former minister is also being accused of using her ill-gotten wealth while in office to acquire capital shares in Telecommunication giant, Airtel Nigeria limited, worth several hundreds of millions of naira.

The government, the source revealed, has enough evidence that Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili chooses to slander the President Goodluck Jonathan’s government because of her ambition to run for the position of a Vice President, by serving as a running mate to the presidential aspirant of the Congress For Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2015 general election.

The ex-World Bank Vice President for Africa is also being accused by the Nigeria Government of working for some foreign interest against Nigeria, listing her membership of the George Soros Foundation. as one of the numerous unpatriotic sharp practices against the country.

Addressing an emergency press conference yesterday, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku in company of the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Economic Adviser, Prof. Nwanze Okedegbo and Special Adviser on Performance Monitoring, Prof. Sylvester Monye, said the allegations of Ezekwesili were curious in the light of the fact that she  has been part of governance in the past as well as the Vice President of World Bank.

The government’s spokesman on the decay of education said, “If she says education has not worked it means she is saying she did not work”, he noted.

“These statements are even more curious in light of the fact that she has held senior positions in government, and more recently, a position as a Vice President of the World Bank. However, rather than speculate about her motives, we would focus on the facts”

Maku said the federal government rather than focus on the motive of Mrs. Ezekwesili’s allegations, it will state the facts to Nigerians.

Maku said the former Education minister betrayed a surprisingly limited understanding of government finances in her comments at Nsukka.

“These statements are even more curious in light of the fact that she has held senior positions in government, and more recently, a position as a Vice President of the World Bank. However, rather than speculate about her motives, we would focus on the facts.

“The statement by the former World Bank Vice President that the governments of Presidents Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan have squandered $67 billion in reserves (including $45 billion in external reserves and $22 billion in the Excess Crude Account) left by the Obasanjo Administration at the end of May 2007 is factually incorrect. At the end of May 2007, Nigeria’s gross reserves stood at $43.13 billion – comprising the CBN’s external reserves of $31.5 billion, $9.43 billion in the Excess Crude Account, and $2.18 billion in the Federal Government’s savings. These figures can be independently verified from the CBN’s records. The figure of $67 billion alleged in her statement is therefore clearly fictitious.

“However, since President Obasanjo left office, the reserves have experienced fluctuations, rising from $43.13 billion in May 2007, peaking at $62 billion in September 2008 during the Yar’adua/Jonathan Administration when oil prices peaked at $147 per barrel, and falling subsequently to a low of $31.7 in September 2011. This fall in reserves was a result of the vicissitudes of the global financial crisis which caused CBN interventions in the currency market to defend the value of the naira. The Excess Crude savings, a component of the reserves, was also used to stimulate the economy at the height of the global financial crisis to the tune of about $1 billion (or 0.5 percent of our 2009 GDP). As a result, Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that did not seek assistance from international financial institutions. It should be noted that the fiscal stimulus used to shore up the economy during that period was shared by all 3-tiers of government, including commitments of about $5.5 billion made under the Obasanjo Administration for power projects.

“On the use of reserves, it is fallacious to say that the nation’s external reserves were dipped into or misapplied by the federal government. It is important to note that the federal government cannot dip its hands into external reserves. Like in other countries, the management of external reserves is one of the statutory mandates of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Section 2 sub-section (c) of the CBN Act (2007) states that the Bank shall ‘maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the legal tender currency’ – in other words, to defend the vale of the naira. No President since the democratic dispensation has contravened this Act. Other uses of the reserves are to settle both public and private sector foreign currency (e.g. payment of goods and services, settlement of external debt, etc) it must provide the naira equivalent to the CBN before the Bank sells the required foreign currency. As a former World Bank Vice-President for Africa, surely, Mrs. Ezekwesili must have known this.

“We also found Mrs. Ezekwesili’s interrogation of the educational system somewhat disingenuous and borderline hypocritical. During her tenure as Minister of Education between 2006 and 2007, she collected total sum of N352.3 billion from direct budgetary releases. In addition, she received about N65.8 billion under the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Fund, and over N40 billion from the Education Trust Fund (ETF) during her time as Minister of Education.

“In view of these humongous allocations, few legitimate questions arise. What did she do with all these allocations? What impact did it have on the education sector? One wonders if our educational system would have been better today if these allocations were properly applied.

“No one disputes that Nigeria still faces challenges, most of which were built up over a long time. But we need to acknowledge the significant achievements of this administration in the aftermath of difficult but necessary macro-economic and structural reforms being implemented in the country.

“This administration has restored macro-economic stability against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty, slow growth in the United States and high unemployment and unsustainable debt in Europe. In the first 3 quarters of 2012, Nigeria’s economy grew by about 6.4 percent and is set to continue at a similar pace in 2013 according to independent forecasts. We have reduced our fiscal deficit to only 2.17 percent of GDP in the 2013 budget, while rebalancing our spending in favour of capital expenditure. These achievements have already received strong endorsement from international ratings agencies. At a time when many advanced and emerging markets are being downgraded, Fitch and S&P have upgraded our sovereign credit ratings. The inclusion of Nigeria’s sovereign bonds in the emerging market bond indices of JP Morgan and Barclays also testifies to the growing confidence of the international investment community in our economy.

“We have also focused our attention on removing the bureaucratic and structural bottlenecks in the economy to enable the private sector create more jobs for our youths. In the power sector, most Nigerians will attest to improvements in power supply even as the 10 new power plants being built by this Administration are yet to fully come on stream. There have also been improvements in rail services; for example, the Lagos—Kano rail line is now fully operational and serving Nigerians for the first time in over 20 years. There have been significant improvements in road development; aviation – in particular refurbished terminals; and agriculture, where new jobs are being created every day. Serious work is ongoing to improve our ports and lower the cost of doing business and the cost of consumption in Nigeria. The government has further launched a number of initiatives targeted at creating jobs for our youth, including support for entrepreneurship through the YouWin Programme; work for the unskilled through the Community Services programme of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme; and support for unemployed graduates through the Graduate Internship Programme.

“This administration is squarely focused on promoting a stable, non-inflationary, and inclusive economic environment for Nigeria to ensure that Nigerians can live better and more fulfilled lives”, Maku said.

 

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