Former World Bank director, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwaela on Wednesday was sworn in as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy. It is a triple A ministerial portfolio that shows the very important role that the new Minister is expected to play in President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Okonjo-Iwaela resigned her position at the World Bank after months of intense lobbying from the president to persuade her to join his cabinet. This will be the second coming of the world renowned economist, largely responsible for a stable economy that the country enoyed during the period 2003 – 2006.
One of the highlights of Okonjo-Iwaela’s reign as Minister of Finance during the Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime was her leading role in securing a monumental 18 billion dollars debt deal with major Nigerian creditors that includes the Paris Club. She later fell out with the former president and was assigned Minister of Foreign Affairs. She resigned in August 2006.
This time around, the minister top agenda over the next three years will be how to reduce the country’s budget deficit and adding substance to the government economic diversification plan — just as many look up to her to chart a new direction for the country’s economic prospect.
Okonjo-Wahala (meaning a trouble woman) as some of her colleagues and workers in government circle used to call her will be a major plus to the Jonathan administration, which has been accused of lack of focus and transformational zeal. Perhaps, it is one highly needed ‘trouble’ that the Nigerian government require to bring sanity into its corrupt and bloated system.
In a similar development, President Jonathan will on Thursday inaugurate a 24-member Federal Government Economic Management Team to be coordinated by Okonjo-Iwaela.
Member of the team includes: Minister of National Planning; Minister of Trade and Investment; Minister of Power; Minister of Petroleum Resources; Minister of Agriculture; Minister of Works; Minister of Education; Minister of Health; Minister of State Finance; Minister of State, Health; Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Chief Economic Adviser; Special Adviser, Monitoring and Evaluation; Director General, Budget; Director General, Debt Management Office; Director General, Bureau for Public Procurement; Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission; Honourary Adviser on Agriculture and Governor of Adamawa State; Honourary Adviser on Finance and Governor of Anambra State; Honourary Adviser on Economy and President, Nigerian Economic Society and Mr. Atedo Peterside (Founder and Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Plc).