Okonjo-Iweala Blames Govs For Subsidy Removal


The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, has denied being the mastermind of the oil subsidy removal that has plunged the country into serious crisis for two days.

In a chat with the BBC World News early today, Dr. Ngozie Okonjo-Iweala, said that it was the state governors that demanded the removal of fuel subsidy, to increase their incomes, adding that the demand predates her appointment to office as minister of finance.

About two days ago, the minister had said that neither she nor the president, Goodluck Jonathan ever set an April date for the removal of fuel subsidy.

She accused those she referred to as mischief makers as the brain behind it. Her spirited denial follows the severe bashing she has received over the insincerity in announcing the policy on 1 January after she had earlier told Nigerians that the policy would take off in April.

The minister has come under severe criticism over the policy which is very unpopular to the Nigerian people though the Federal Government has maintained it is the only way forward if the nation’s economy is not to collapse.

She has been accused of attempting to introduce IMF and World Bank economic policies that have failed in other countries in Nigeria.

These policies some said are delibrate moves to make Nigerians perpetually poor so as to continue to be market for the west.

The announcement of the fuel subsidy removal has led to a general strike called by labour unions and civil society groups which has entered its second day.

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In the first day of the strike, the country was brought to its knees as economic activities were completely paralysed nationwide. The airports and other government and private economic institutions were shut.

The people are angry over government’s insincerity and insensitivity in commencing such a harsh policy on a New Year day when people were supposed to be celebrating.

They also accused the government of not considering the effect of the policy on the poor masses of the country before embarking on it.

The people are also angry that the Federal Government that has not been courageous enough to punish a cartel that brought the country to this economic crisis is so quick to implement a policy that is capable of making the majority of Nigerians poorer.

On Sunday, the House of Representatives held an emergency sitting after which it asked the Federal Government to suspend the policy and embark on wider cosultations.

The government has referred to the directive from House as ‘a mere expression of opinion’.

Meanwhile, the labour unions have vowed to continue the strike until the government reverts to the old price of N65 per litre of petrol.

—William Igenegbai

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