By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA— Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said managing the Nigerian economy under the present administration might not be perfect but the government made good efforts to improve the lives of Nigerians. She spoke in Abuja, Sunday night, at a reception organised in her honour by Ndi-Igbo Youth Organisation in partnership with Voice of All Arewa Youth, in Abuja.
The minister, who also received a certificate for meritorious service, said she will never regret serving the country under President Goodluck Jonathan despite the criticisms and attacks she has been receiving because, the lives of Nigerians, especially youths and women improved significantly under the Jonathan administration.
According to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, “the youths have been at the centre of the work done by this administration and these are facts on the ground. You cannot change facts but you can try to twist them and at the end of the day facts will come out. You cannot re-write history, and wake up and say these are things we have done or have not done. A lot of things have been accomplished to transform this economy.
“Is it 100 percent? No, and are we to do more? The answer is yes. Have we done everything perfectly? The answer is no and no one is ever perfect. But have we made very good effort to do? and the answer is a resounding yes. “The support for the various sectors that created jobs that needs to continue and programmes like YouWin, they need to continue and those that are not good by all means you can do away with them or make them better. “No one is perfect but let us build on what is there in order not to lose time on this economy.
“For the youths, don’t allow anyone to re-write history, don’t let anyone change the story because what has been done has been done well and let others who are coming in build on this. When they see they are good let them pick them up and build on them.” The minister noted that based on statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, the nation needed to create about 1.8 million jobs each year and that the administration put in place, various programmes towards achieving that goal.
Her words: “The first thing we did to encourage young entrepreneurs was to introduce YouWin and we made a target of about 80,000 jobs both direct and indirect. This was an idea I got when I was at World Bank. “As of today, 3, 900 people have benefited from grants of between N1 million and N10 million, and they got it and they did not know anybody. We also gave grant to 1,200 women because women are good entrepreneurs. Today, 22,000 direct jobs have been created and also 88,000 indirect jobs.
“This is one of the programmes I hope the incoming administration will continue because it is a laudable programme and I think is something that will stay a little bit more. We were also able to place 32,000 youths under the Graduate Internship Scheme.”