The appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance was greeted with high hopes and expectations. Nobody doubted that she would perform because of her pedigree as the finance minister in the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration, as well as her expertise as the former Managing Director of the World Bank.
About one-and-a-half years on, she has lived up to expectations. She has entrenched fiscal discipline in the management of public finances, which has helped in growing Nigeriaâ€™s Excess Crude Account and in turn the external reserves.
When it was apparent that some dubious petroleum marketers were feasting on the nationâ€™s resources, Okonjo-Iweala instituted a probe committee headed by the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, with the aim of exposing the culprits and in the long run putting an end to corruption in the subsidy regime.
Against all odds, the courageous move by the minister paid off as it was quite revealing and has instilled some sanity in the administration of subsidy. More importantly, it has cut down significantly the amount spent on fuel subsidy from N2.19 trillion as at the end of the 2011 fiscal year to slightly over N1 trillion this year.
Besides, the commencement of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), which had been vehemently resisted by the state governors, stands to her credit. The SWF took off in October with a seed capital of $1 billion and the appointment of a board and management team.
The job creation initiative by the Federal Government – Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YoUWiN) – is also a testimony of her determination to create jobs. The initiative popularly called YoUWiN! is an innovative business plan competition aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youths in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas that will lead to job creation. So far, YouWiN has created 1,200 awardees.