There seems to be no end in sight in the debate over the state of the economy between the federal government and an online medium, Sahara Reporters, as the latter Tuesday alleged that the government’s Transformation Agenda was a ruse.
Despite the assurance from the federal government on Monday that the economy was healthy and that Nigeria is not broke, the media outfit in a report to THISDAY, maintained its stance on the state of the nation’s economy.
It argued that its earlier report was the product of a painstaking investigation, undertaken to expose corruption, lies and deceit perpetrated by Nigerian officials to hoodwink unsuspecting Nigerians “that a transformation was taking place in their lives.”
According to the online medium, it had spoken to numerous knowledgeable and reliable sources, in and out of government as well as abroad on the subject.
It alleged that the transformation trumpeted by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and other functionaries in the Goodluck Jonathan government was not genuine.
“Using their insight into the policies and actions of the government, they insist that Nigerians are materially worse off today than at any time in the recent past as a result of economic mismanagement and large scale graft, the hallmarks of the Jonathan regime,” it argued.
It pointed out that during Okonjo-Iweala’s first tour of duty as finance minister under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, she had pursued an aggressive debt repayment agenda, “handing over more than $12 billion of Nigeria’s scarce funds to repay debts of doubtful origin.”
“To justify that scam against the Nigerian people, Okonjo-Iweala boasted that, with the debt payment accomplished, Nigeria was in a position to save $1 billion per year, pledging that the monies would be invested to develop infrastructure.
“Nigerians now wonder: Where are the $1 billion annual savings Okonjo-Iweala promised Nigerians in 2006? Where are the roads? Where are the new hospitals? Where are the significant improvements in the state of maternity care she promised Nigerians in 2006?,” she said.
“In 2007, when Okonjo-Iweala was giving esoteric speeches about the economic magic she and her colleagues were achieving for Nigerians, the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar was N120 to one; today it is N160 naira to a dollar,” it added.
Furthermore, Sahara Reporter noted that at a 2007 TED conference, the finance minister had disclosed that Nigeria had $40 billion in foreign reserves, but wondered why despite rising oil prices in the international market, the country only has about $48 billion in the reserves.
Continuing, it said: “Our mode of reporting scrutinises official versions of events; we question the actions and policies of government officials; we have developed an ever-growing network of sources who avail us of the innermost secrets and deals of those in power because they trust us to report fearlessly and to protect their identity; we believe in speaking truth to power; and we always crosscheck statements made by sources before publishing accounts.
“We continue to demand openness and transparency in the conduct of governmental affairs; and we demand that Nigerians be allowed to feel the impact of any so-called economic growth, not in carefully manipulated press statements, bar charts and economic ratings and projections, but in the manner it impacts positively on their daily lives.”