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“You Forged National Economic Statistics” – Soludo Replies Okonjo-Iweala

Frmer Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo, has reacted to the criticism of his earlier, controversial article, by the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

In a less lengthy, of about 6000 words article, Mr. Soludo on Sunday rejected claims by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala that he performed poorly as governor of the Central Bank. He said his performance as CBN governor was unprecedented and locally as well as globally, acknowledged.

“In Nigeria’s history, no governor of the Central Bank has delivered 24 consecutive months of single digit inflation as I did until the advent of the unprecedented global crisis in 2008,” he said.

Premium Times reports that, Mr. Soludo then challenged claims by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, that the Nigerian economy is doing well. He accused Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala of running the country’s economy aground.

“You are brilliant Madam, but you need serious help,” he said while reeling our data to show the porous state of the Nigerian economy. “Having spent all your life in the World Bank bureaucracy largely in administration/operations, no one will blame you if your economics has become a bit rusty. There are firebrand Nigerians all over the world to draft to service. It is certainly embarrassing to Nigeria for you to be bothering World Bank economists to help you with most basic economic analysis.”

He also accused her of forging Nigeria’s national economics statistics. Mr. Soludo said, 

“What worries me is that this government is the first in our history to attempt to manipulate our national statistics under Okonjo-Iweala. When NBS published the poverty figures in 2011, she felt indicted and incensed. She called upon the World Bank to come and examine the ‘methodology’ and get NBS to ‘review’ its numbers. Oby Ezekwesili (as VP Africa Region rejected the call to try to tamper with a country’s statistics). Once Oby left, the ‘World Bank’ started talking about ‘new figures’, without conducting any new surveys.

“I was told about it by a World Bank economist, and I cautioned that it was a dangerous gamble that would damage the credibility of the NBS. If you want to ‘review methodology’, you conduct another survey but you can’t change ‘methodology’ because you don’t like the published figures. No government in our history has tried it: even Sani Abacha allowed a poverty survey that put poverty at 67% under his regime. At this rate, who will believe statistics coming from the Nigerian government again? Is it now the World Bank that sits in Washington and allocates poverty numbers to Nigeria? Something smells here!”

Read Mr. Soludo’s full article below.

“Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Missing Trillions (1)” Chukwuma Charles Soludo

I read some of the responses to my article, “Buhari vs Jonathan: Beyond the Election”, and I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the debate. I am glad that the debate has finally taken off. I have decided, for the record, to re-enter the debate if only to set some records straight and hopefully elevate the debate further. Whom do I respond to? First, let me thank Governor Kayode Fayemi for his very mature and professional response on behalf of the APC. It forms a great basis for deepening the conversation. Pat Utomi, Oby Ezekwesili, Iyabo Obasanjo, and thousands of other patriotic Nigerians have raised the content of the debate. Femi Fani-Kayode made me laugh, as usual. The Gov. Jang faction of the Governors’ Forum played the usual politics, although I know what most of them think privately. Who else? Oh, Peter Obi. Well, since he can’t write and designated Valentine as usual to write for him (who never disputed the NBS statistics that Obi broke world record in the pauperization of Anambra people but instead focused on lies and abuses) I won’t dignify him with a response here. His third class performance in Anambra will be the subject of a comprehensive article later.

Here, I will focus on Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s response (as Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy—CME and hence on behalf of the Federal Government). Since I have known her, out of deep respect, I have never called her by her name: I call her Madam. I must state that I have great pains seeing myself on the opposite side of the table with Madam, in this way. I respect you, Madam, and will always do. If you read my article of September 2010 (before you became Minister), the tone and elucidation were as strong as the current one. It is my honest effort to ensure that our choice of leaders is based on rigorous scrutiny of what is on offer. Part of my frustration is that five years after, everything I warned about has come to happen and we are conducting our campaigns as if we are not in crisis. As a concerned Nigerian, I have a duty to speak out again. Regrettably, you have taken it very personal.

I am not bothered about the personal abuses: I actually expected worse. What name has the government not called President Obasanjo or any person who has dared to disagree with it of late? Anyone who disagrees with the government must either be ‘insane’ or have a ‘character’ deficiency or must be ‘looking for a job’ or ‘without honour’, or a ‘charlatan’. Yesterday, Sanusi alleged that $20 billion was missing and he was accused of gross financial mismanagement, recklessness and poor governance to the point of being the first governor of central bank to be suspended from office. Today, he is the good one; and for daring to award an “F” grade for our economic performance, Soludo has become the ‘worst’ and ‘without character’ or perhaps ‘looking for position’ (Lol!). Some days ago, a former president was called ‘a motor park tout’ and ‘un-statesmanly’ just for disagreeing. This “how dare you criticise us” mind-set of the government is dangerous for our democracy.

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