Malam Nuhu Ribadu, former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday said alleged missing N30 trillion under the watch of Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was not possible. Ribadu made this known in an interview with the News Agency Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
“I was baffled and got deluded for anyone to say that N30 trillion got lost. I think we just have to look at what we earn as a country and what our budget had been in these few years and see how possible it is.
If everything we earned is not up to that within the period she has been the minister, which is about three to four years, then we need to be careful.
We need to be careful to avoid more damage to our nation, because there are certain things that when it comes out, it will never go back again,’’ he said
He said that while working under former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Okonjo-Iweala was the economic team leader and she coordinated the economic policy of the administration effectively.
“I challenge anybody to say that she stole N1 at that time; we were all there, I was in charge of EFCC and I want to hear anybody say that she did this and that.
And, I followed her up till now. I think it is somehow uncharitable for someone to come out to say that such an amount of money was missing under her watch,’’ he said.
Ribadu, who is the governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Adamawa, said that controversies being raised about the nation’s economy was unfortunate, adding that Okonjo-Iweala was of impeccable integrity and well respected.
According to him, when I worked with her, she exhibited a nationalistic attitude that was not questionable and believed in any policy that could take Nigeria and its people high.
“I am a little disturbed with what I have been hearing in the last couple of days where many things are being said and some are totally out of placed with some of the result we have achieved in the economy.
I believe that even if people are not together working as a team, we still exhibit honour. In our team, she did well,’’ he said.
The former EFCC boss advised that people must advocate for things that were geared towards the unity of the country and avoid controversies that would cause more harm to the system.
`I am close to almost all of us that worked together as a team and I know that Ngozi continues to do what she knows how best to do, which is to serve Nigeria.
She managed this economy fairly in spite of all the challenges and difficulties; it is sad for someone to look at Ngozi and said that she has a hand in it (alleged missing funds).“
According to him, the volatility in the price of oil in the global market is beyond anybody’s control in Nigeria.
He urged Nigerians to help preserve the country’s models who were globally respected, adding that Okonjo-Iweala remained one Nigerian with global recognition of high integrity.
“She is an extremely respected person in the world and it doesn’t just happen like that, and I feel that it is wrong for us to bring down our models. It is wrong for us to pull our own down.
This pull-down syndrome has to stop and we must manage ourselves very well; I am not happy now with what is going on.
And, I think that if it is politics, I think it is something that is hurting us as people and hurting the economy as well,’’ he stated.
On allegation that the minister was executing World Bank /IMF policies in Nigeria, Ribadu said that she had in no way done such, adding that having worked with the bank was an added advantage for Nigeria.
He said that Nigerians should rather be proud of the minister, having risen to the position of managing director of the World Bank, adding that it was not something to be condemned.
“If you look at it, what are the World Bank policies that she is implementing? People saying it should be able to mention the policies for it to be discussed.
It will be useful to see what it is and people can prove that it is typically a World Bank directive,’’ he said.
Ribadu said that the present economic policies had impacted on the lives of Nigerians, especially in the area of agriculture.
This, he said, had given poor farmers less stress in accessing fertilisers and good seedlings.
He added that though insurgency was still a big challenge, the fact that Nigeria had not stood still because of it was a positive indication of the health of the economy.