Those Behind Petrol Subsidy Are Powerful My Mother Was Kidnapped Because of It– Okonjo-Iweala

Those Behind Petrol Subsidy Are Powerful My Mother Was Kidnapped Because of It– Okonjo-Iweala
June 4, 2023

Those behind petrol subsidy in Nigeria are mostly the movers and shakers in the society.

Independent findings of Newspot discovered that many of those who are parading themselves as billionaires and millionaires are in the corridors of power.

They are entrenched and have been pulling strings behind the scenes to frustrate past governments’ effort to get it removed.

To buttress this fact is Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala former minister of Finance and presently the WTO Director General.

She as the Minister of Finance and Economy Coordinator, struggled with the same issue.

Looking back she spoke of how the proposal to end the subsidy met with substantial resistance, including a personal ordeal involving the kidnap of her mother.

In a recent viral video, Okonjo-Iweala discussed her efforts to eliminate fraudulent subsidies.

“We audited about $8.4b worth of claims and we found out $2.5b worth of fraud. That is, many of these marketers were trying to claim $2.5b fraudulently,” she said.

This revelation was she claimed met with fierce opposition from those who benefited from the flawed system, leading to intense personal and professional repercussions .

Shockingly Okonjo-Iweala said her mother was kidnapped by individuals demanding her resignation.

She said, “My second example has to do with a very specific one in my country, the clean-up of the fuel scarcity regime in 2012 during my second stay as Finance Minister.

“Nigeria has a physically challenging force of fuel regime, the country exports crude oil and imports fuel because their refineries are in a very bad shape and provides a subsidy for the refined oil as support.

“At the end of 2011, a total of N1.73tr, US $11b equivalent, was submitted as claims for subsidy by 143 marketers, who were importing the product.

“These numbers seemed horrendously large compared to what I had last when I was in government in 2006, which was close to $2b in subsidy.

“So, we decided to study these claims. We audited about $8.4b worth of claims and we found out $2.5b worth of fraud. That is, many of these marketers were trying to claim $2.5b fraudulently.

“With the full backing of the President and the Economic Team, we decided that we were not going to entertain these claims or to pay.

“The pressure from affected marketers was tremendous not only to say we would not pay but also to say we would clean up the whole mechanism for the subsidy claims and put in place something more transparent, something clearer.

“This did not go down well with them. “When we insisted on our position of non-payment and implementation of the new verification regime, these, and well-connected interests, were angered, and came to blame me personally for this.

“There were personal consequences. My 83-year-old mother, a retired professor of sociology, was kidnapped by four young men and held for five days.

“She was totally terrified. She asked them why she had been kidnapped and they told her ‘Because your daughter, the Finance Minister, refused to pay oil marketers their dues’.

“The kidnappers, negotiating with my brother, demanded my resignation, publicly; that I should go on television, publicly and announce my resignation and depart from the country as a condition for my mother’s release.

“Needless to say these were some of the worst days of my life. Imagine when you are in a position, you want your parents, all of whom are here with you today, and your relatives to be proud of you. You want to be a source of good for your family.

“You can imagine how I felt, sitting there and thinking, just because of trying to do something right. To implement a policy that was good for the country, to lead to the taking of my mother’s life. These were some of the worst days of my life.

“With my father’s support and the firm resolve of the President, we all decided I should not give in to the blackmailers and I refused to resign.

“Following a manhunt for my mother by security agencies, she was able to make a dramatic escape after five days in captivity, where she was only given water and half of a sausage roll.

“So, here with the well-justified clean up and reform of a policy, but implemented in a dangerous reform environment where the losers in the reform, where the entrenched vested interests decided to fight back to derail implementation.

“The decision not to resign was a very difficult and risky one but, as it turned out, it worked.

“But on my down days, I ask myself, what if it had

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