Why Okonjo-Iweala was Reassigned
By Prince Charles Dickson and Jonathan Elendu , Elendu Reports 3/7/06
Jul 5, 2006 - 9:20:00 AM

There were stories of her resignation following her reassignment to the Foreign Affairs Ministry. While some people in Abuja have insisted that the Minister resigned, the official position has always been that she did not resign.


The other issue that is yet to be made clear to the Nigerian public is the reason for her reassignment. Given her high profile and the much touted achievements of the Finance Ministry under her leadership, many Nigerians and indeed the international community were amazed that the President would reassign her from the Ministry and replaced her with the junior Minister who does not have the kind of clout Okonjo-Iweala enjoys.


Elendureports.com investigations show that Okonjo-Iweala, though unhappy with her reassignment to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, did not resign. After talking with several sources at the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, we can now reveal that the Minister’s reassignment was a result of a combination of factors, none bothering on her competence. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala may have become a victim of her own standards, her family, and party politics intrigues.


Chi-Chi Okonjo, the Minister’s younger brother is reported to have a deal with the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) valued at nearly half a billion naira a year. This contract with the FCDA is for environmental sanitation and pays him about forty million naira (N40,000,000.00) a month. Sources also claim that Chi Chi is a consultant to the Ministry of Finance  and has deals with two other ministries. Elendureports.com is yet to independently confirm that he has a business relationship with the two other ministries.


Elendureports.com can confirm that Chi-Chi Okonjo was allocated land at the highbrow Maitama area. The land is said to be valued at about forty million naira (N40,000,000.00). The FCDA file number for the land is: DT21001. Another land in the Garki 2 area was also allocated to a member of the Minister’s family. The file number is: AB20914. We will not publish the name of the person to whom the land was allocated until we confirm that the individual is not a minor.


Nobody has claimed that Chi-Chi’s business with the FCDA is illegal. But the deal has raised eyebrows because the FCDA Minister is a member of the country’s economic team which is headed by his older sister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. From all available records, Chi-Chi did not get this deal until after his sister became a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Other deals involving Chi-Chi are speculated to have “not been too clean.”


Ahmadu Ali, Tony Annenih, Bode George and some top members of the ruling PDP had been pressuring the President to make funds available to the Party. They reasoned that given the level and strength of the opposition, the PDP would require a lot of money to contest elections in 2007. They also told the President that the failed third term campaign had seriously depleted the Party’s funds. The President informed his Party colleagues that he could not provide the funds. Many funding sources were suggested by the President’s Party men. They suggested to Obasanjo to issue instructions to friendly state governors like Peter Odili, James Ibori, Goodluck Jonathan and others to provide money for the Party. The other funding sources that were suggested to the President included the Ministry of Finance.


The President is said to have adamantly refused the suggestion involving the Finance Ministry, telling his friends that the Minister would not carry out those instructions. At this point, the PDP chiefs suggested that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala be ‘eased out’ for a more ‘reasonable fellow’ who will play ball. The President opined that it would be difficult to move her out, given her track record and her standing with the international community. It was at this juncture that her ‘sins’ were brought to the President’s attention. Included in her ‘sins’ were her brother’s deals with the FCDA and other ministries. Chi-Chi Okonjo was also fingered in some deals concerning the much celebrated debt relief efforts of the government.    


After the ‘evidence’ of Chi-Chi Okonjo’s deals were made available to the President, he agreed to reassign Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala rather than give her an outright sack. Factored into the President’s thinking is that given that nothing can be traced to her personally, and her standing with the international community, an outright sack would require a lot of explaining.


According to our sources, the President told Madam Minister that she was going to be reassigned to another Ministry. She was unhappy with this and demanded explanations. None was offered and after throwing temper tantrums, accepted her fate. A serving Minister speaking on conditions of anonymity told Elendureports.com, “Ngozi did not resign! Take it from me she did not and could not resign…she was just doing shakara. Baba would have accepted her resignation had she tendered any.”


Elendureports.com sources informed us that the President was counting on Okonjo-Iweala throwing in the towel. While the President had been advised by PDP stalwarts to retain her as the head of the economic team, they were also hoping that she would walk away in anger and disgust. She did not. Her replacement, Nenade Usman, is said to be showing signs of ‘understanding’ and the PDP chieftains are happy with her. The deal, we were informed, is that if she ‘plays ball’ the Kaduna governorship ticket of the PDP is hers. 


And another twist to the reassignment of Olu Adeniji to the Internal Affairs Ministry may be linked to comments he made concerning tenure elongation by African leaders during a retreat of ambassadors early this year. Nigeria’s ambassador to Uganda had asked Adeniji if he would be attending the inauguration and swearing of the Ugandan President. The Minister had been piqued by this and had said to the ambassador in anger, “Don’t you ever ask me to attend the swearing of a sit tight leader. I will never attend the swearing in of a sit tight president.” Although Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo attended the swearing in ceremony, Olu Adeniji, the Foreign Affairs Minister managed not to be present at the ceremonies.


Elendureports.com made several attempts to get the view of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for this story. We made at least eight calls to the Minister’s Press Secretary but he would not take his calls.

Source: Ocnus.net 2007