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... Utomi, MAN express shock

Posted by By Chijama Ogbu, Ayo Olesin and Atser Godwin on 2006/08/04 | Views: 2551 |

... Utomi, MAN express shock

Notable players in the economy on Thursday expressed shock over the resignation of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.....

Notable players in the economy on Thursday expressed shock over the resignation of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The players – Prof.Pat Utomi; Mr. Bashir Borodo; Chief John Odeyemi; and Mr. Bismark Rewane – told our correspondents in Lagos, that Okonjo-Iweala would be missed for the forthrightness, integrity and transparency she brought to governance.

They, however, said her resignation would not precipitate any major shift in the direction of the economy.

Utomi, a political economist and director, Lagos Business School, singled out the drafting of the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, which prescribes strict adherence to budgetary provisions by public officers in all the three tiers of government, as her high mark.

He said, "Her biggest contribution, she may not realise this, is the work she did on the Fiscal Responsibility Bill. That was an effort at institution building. It is only through institution building that whatever we achieve can be sustainable. When they are built on persons they are not sustainable."

But Utomi argued that her resignation could send a signal that all was not well with the reform process.

He said that such a signal would not have arisen if enough work had been done about institution building in Nigeria.

Borodo, in his comment, said the resignation of Okonjo-Iweala was "unfortunate" because she was "an asset to the cabinet considering her contributions to the resuscitation of the nation’s economy."

Borodo, who is the president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, said that Okonjo-Iweala brought a lot of improvement in the macroeconomy.

Commenting, Odeyemi, who is the president of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce of Industry, Mines and Agriculture, said he was "shocked" by the news of the minister’s resignation.

He said, "We shall miss her for being very active, very brilliant and very forthright. She has left an indelible mark on governance in Nigeria in terms of the debt relief, transparency and publication of money given to states and local governments."

Odeyemi added that the former minister would also be missed for her influence within the world financial system, especially with the multilateral agencies.

He also said that her exit would not have any grave implications for the economy as she has left behind a very strong team in the Ministry of Finance, the budget office, and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Rewane, an economic analyst and Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company, described Okonjo-Iweala’s resignation as "bad news" that would send "negative signals" about Nigeria to the international community.

He said that she brought two distinct things to government – capacity, in terms of understanding of the macroeconomic environment, and integrity, in terms of commitment to reforms and fiscal responsibility.

Rating the former minister high in the area of ensuring fiscal discipline in the management of the nation economy, he said, "You can plan as much as you want but if there is no fiscal discipline, to ensure that money is not spent anyhow, then you lose every thing."

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