Former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has denied accusing lawmakers of collecting bribe to pass the 2015 budget.
Last week, a portion of former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s book, ‘Fighting corruption is dangerous, the story behind the headlines’, was released online. The portion of the book shared the story of how lawmakers in the face of the dwindling oil price refused to cut down their N150 billion constituency project fund as the Ministers had cut down their salaries due to the falling economy.
Okonjo-Iweala who was finance minister from August 17, 2011 to May 29, 2015, said the lawmakers after much dialogue, agreed to cut down the budget for their projects but then infused N17 billion into the budget. She stated that the Executive had to over look this inclusion so that the budget could be passed.
The former Minister in a statement released this afternoon, said the content of her book was taken out of context. According to her, she never accused the lawmakers of taken bribe.
Read her statement below;
It has come to my attention that mischief makers are again trying to distort what is written in my book, ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: the Story Behind the Headlines’, for their own political purposes.
One more time, It is important that people read the book for themselves. In the case of the N17billion, the book does not talk of bribe. It indicates that lawmakers increased the budget by N17billion and we had to accept that to move on; hence, the term “price to pay”.
The reason for discussing what happened is that this approach needs to change. The country must clear up and clarify its budget process for the future to improve. Those like Hon Gbajabiamiala trying to introduce lies that myself and my aides put in our own projects and lawmakers were fighting with me on that basis are playing their usual cynical games and Nigerians are tired of that!
Lies obscure the country’s problems and do not allow us to improve. There were and there still are politicians in the National Assembly trying to do the right thing. The book also points that out. Such well-meaning legislators should not allow their strident colleagues to twist matters and divert attention from the need to improve the country’s budget process so our young people can see a better side of their country.