Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala and lawmakers in war of words

A war of words broke out on Thursday evening between the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin, during a meeting scheduled to discuss the state of the economy from January to date.

The chairman of committee had ruled that the minister, who had said she was feeling a little sick, would be excused and should return at another date to meet with the committee.

The confrontation, however, ensued when the minister insisted that she was ready to speak to the committee and the committee insisted that they stand by their ruling that the minister should return on another date.

The Chairman of the Committee, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin, had earlier said that the purpose of the invitation was to “critically look at issues pertaining the economy.”

According to him, with lots of issues, allegations and counter-allegations, going on, “we want to open up all issues. We have sent her a letter that the committee doesn’t want any vague presentation”.

He stressed that: “I am actually interested in engaging with the minister who in private accepts something but shies away in public”.
“We will also engage the minister of finance on the allegations made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor on ‘missing’ crude oil revenue, ‘missing’ Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), external borrowings, ‘missing’ SURE-P funds and others,” Jibrin intimated.
Exchange of words began when the committee insisted that it would give the Minister a list of questions it intended asking and asked her to give her response to the questions and return it to the committee on the day of the rescheduled briefing.
“We will give you time to give us a written explanation and answers to those questions and also arrange for you to appear before this committee when you are strong and energetic,” the committee chairman said.
The minister expressed her readiness to answer the questions but Jibrin refused to let her speak.
“Listen, you can decide what will happen only in the Ministry of Finance but not in the Committee of Finance. You will go, give us a written explanation after two weeks. We will take your written explanation and study it then we will invite you for a proper engagement. That is the ruling of the committee. Thank you for coming,” he said, hitting the gavel.
After the lawmaker’s ruling, the minister said the committee handled her in a rough manner without respect.
“When you invite ministers, you have to treat them with respect. We have human rights. We cannot come here to this house and be abused,” Okonjo-Iweala said, showing her disapproval of the committee chairman’s action.

Credit: Channels