By Nmachi Jidenma
“When I became finance minister they called me Okonjo-Wahala – or Trouble Woman. It means ‘I give you hell.’ But I don’t care what names they call me. I’m a fighter; I’m very focused on what I’m doing, and relentless in what I want to achieve. If you get in my way, you get kicked.”
The above were statements by Nigeria’s former minister for finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on her ministerial tenure in Nigeria. To say that she performed brilliantly in her role will be an understatement. Her instrumental role in helping negotiate Nigeria’s exit from its $30 billion debt to the Paris club will always be remembered. In an interview with the Financial Times in May this year, she said that the deal gave her grey hair. Her service to the nation was commendable.
I was thus incredibly delighted when rumours started circulating some weeks ago that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was being considered to once again serve as Nigeria’s finance minister. It was even more delightful to hear that she was recently called for security screening for ministerial nominees.
Many have wondered if Goodluck Jonathan’s administration would merely be a continuation of the business-as-usual syndrome that has been symptomatic of Aso Rock. With a bona-fide troublemaker on the team, Nigerians can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully, if all goes well, she will be returning to the role and will bring the doggedness she brought to the job during her previous sojourn.
During her tenure as minister, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala came up with the idea of formulating an excess crude account so that Nigeria could save its revenue from crude oil during rainy days, to fund government expenditure during less buoyant economic times. The account was instituted in 2004 and by 2007 had grown to about $20 billion.
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