BY EMMAN OVUAKPORIE & LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU
ABUJA—Speaker of the House of representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, yesterday, faulted the answers provided by the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to the 50 questions asked her by the House.
Tambuwal spoke at the 11th Daily Trust dialogue in Abuja, through the Deputy Spokesman of the House, Victor Ogene, pointing out that the minister failed the questions.
He said: “If as a student you are asked to give four examples of a particular question and you go ahead to show your expertise by giving 12, I am sure you might even fail that subject.
The minister was ably requested to give answers to 50 questions surrounding the management of the Nigerian economy. In writing a 100 page letter, she had probably written two pages as answers to one question. But as a House we are still expecting answers to those questions which form the fulcrum for the preparation of the 2014 budget.
“It is only in this part of the world that a minister can talk of being harassed by a parliament. It is the duty of the parliament to hold the executives accountable to the governed and we will continue to do that”, he said.
Okonjo-Iweala in a statement by her Special Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, insisted that the economy was showing real and measurable progress in many areas contrary to popular perception.
She also said that capital expenditure was consuming more money than when she assumed the role of co-ordinating minister, adding that according to the National Bureau of Statistics 1.6 million new jobs were created in 2013.
She insisted roads, rail and other infrastructure are being improved and that the country is saving for the future and planning better for the present.
The minister further said that the Jonathan’s administration, contrary to the impression given by some critics, was making impact in the areas Nigerians are most passionate about.
According to her, “The Jonathan’s administration, contrary to the impression given by some critics, is making an impact in the areas that, according to credible opinion polls, Nigerians are most passionate about.
“For instance, on job creation which is a central focus of the administration, a total of 1.6 million jobs were created last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, of which 250,000 were seasonal jobs created in dry season farming in 10 northern states.
“In manufacturing, the Onne Oil and Gas Free zone created an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs. The government special intervention programme, YouWin, supported young entrepreneurs, creating over 18,000 jobs. The SURE-P community services programme has also created 120,000 job opportunities.
“Key highways which have witnessed significant progress include Kano-Maiduguri Road, the Abuja-Lokoja Road, the Apapa-Oshodi Road, the Onitsha-Enugu-Port-Harcourt Road and the Benin-Ore-Shagamu Road. Preliminary work has commenced on Lagos-Ibadan road and the Second Niger Bridge.
“The Railway Modernization Programme involving the construction of standard gauge lines is underway. The 1,124 km Western line linking Lagos and Kano is now functional, while work on the Eastern line linking Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is about 36 per cent complete.
The House in a statement signed by its Finance Committee Clerk, Mr Farouq Yakubu Dawaki entitled: The Search for Truth Begins, had earlier commended the minister for responding to the questions.
“The Committee will commence work immediately on the response. However, if in the process the need arises for further explanation.
“A timetable of activities will be released soon. We thank Nigerians for their patience and understanding and hope that they will continue to support us in our patriotic search for the truth with regards to our troubled economy.”