The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the immediate past former Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, begged him not to reveal that Nigeria was broke.
The former Rivers governor, who stated that Nigeria slipped into recession under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, claimed that the previous administration covered up with the excuse that the country was cash-strapped.
The minister was quoted as making these claims on Tuesday on the Osasu Show.
According to Amaechi, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala begged him to stop saying Nigeria was broke in order not to scare investors from the country.
Amaechi, who was Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum at the time, explained that the economy went into a recession due to excessive borrowing by the past government.
He said, “People just pick up words without knowing what they mean. Even under Goodluck (Jonathan) we went into recession.
“I am one of those who participated in the budget. We looked at what happened in the past and we discovered that actually if recession means three times (three quarters of negative economic growth), we have done more than the three times before we came in.
“The difference is that while our government is transparent and open, we are able to admit that, the Federal Government was saying even to me as chairman of governor’s forum, ‘Amaechi, don’t say that again’.
“If you remember as governor, I said we were broke. The minister of finance came to my office in Abuja and pleaded with me that I shouldn’t say it again. That if I said it, it would affect Nigeria in terms of investment; that investors will run away. That I shouldn’t say we are broke. I should say we are cash-strapped. That was what Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told me.
“So, I knew as chairman of Nigeria Governors’ forum, that we had gone into recession under Goodluck. I knew as chairman of governor’s forum. And when I open my mouth to say it, that we are broke, she spoke to me not to say it”.