– Dr Okonjo Iweala says she agreed to serve as finance minister in the GEJ government, as the former president had a clear direction of where he wanted to take the country
– She disclosed that she had felt nervous as she headed to the Villa to give her answer to Jonathan; and had stopped to pray with her brother
– The former minister said the meeting went well; that GEJ was gracious and listened to all she had to say
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former minister of finance, has explained why she joined the Goodluck Jonathan administration, after refusing to join the previous Yar’Adua government.
According to Vanguard, in her new book titled ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous’, the former minister said former President Jonathan acknowledged that he did not know economics, but had a clear direction of where he wanted to take Nigeria.
NAIJ.com gathers that she disclosed that the revered economist and former chairman of Stanbic IBTC, Atedo Peterside, was the first person to reach out to her, as he thought she fit the bill.
In the book, Iweala reportedly states that Jonathan was always willing to support her on issues that would better the country’s economy.
The former minister said she accepted the position after considering the matter for a while, with support from her family and boss at the World Bank, Robert Zoellick.
She stated: “I travelled to Nigeria to see the president, and my youngest brother, ChiChi, drove me to the Villa (the official office and residence of Nigerian presidents) for that definitive meeting.
“Arriving at the residence gate, I suddenly felt nervous about the enormity of what I might be signing on to. My brother noticed my unease and parked the car in a corner, and we prayed for God’s wisdom and guidance.
“At that point, I was almost hopeful that the president might not agree with the issues I would bring up and it would be over. But the meeting went well. President Jonathan was gracious. He listened carefully to all I had to say.
“We had a good discussion on the economy, and even though he kept saying he did not know economics, he was clear on the direction he wanted to take the country to.
“We went over my terms of reference, including the role I would assume as Coordinating Minister of the Economy (CME), as he wanted it done. He agreed to a regular bilateral meeting at least once a week and accessibility at other times when it might be needed.
“He also approved of creating an economic team that he would chair that would meet regularly once a month to start; and at longer intervals down the line, a smaller economic implementation team that I would chair that would meet once a week to coordinate between economic portfolios and get things done.
“As for the composition of the team, I mentioned the need for a small core of reformers.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said she didn’t say former president Goodluck Jonathan lacked political will to save funds under his administration. She regretted that her statement had been misquoted.
The former minister, on Thursday, December 28, 2017, said “zero political will to save in the last administration” was responsible for some of the challenges facing the country.
However, in a statement issued by her media aide Paul Nwabuikwu afterwards, Iweala said she was referring to the opposition of some governors to the efforts of the immediate past administration.
Jonathan was never a bad president – on NAIJ.com TV: