Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has revealed that in 2015 the National Assembly leadership allegedly coerced the executive arm to part with an additional N17 billion before the year’s budget was passed into law.
Okonjo-Iweala responded to allegation by Femi Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, over claims that she and her aides inserted their own projects into the 2015 budget.
Clarifying the issues on her verified Twitter handle on Sunday, she said the lawmaker’s claims were inaccurate.
The former minister had in her book, ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines,’ revealed the arm-twisting that characterised budget passage by the National Assembly during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
In his reaction to the claim, Mr Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, said he was not aware that lawmakers took any ‘bribe.’
The lawmaker, who was the minority leader in the 7th Assembly, however, said that lawmakers had a running battle with Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and her aides over the budget because they inserted their own projects to the detriment of some lawmakers.
He recalled that the disagreement made lawmakers to demand that many projects be sited in their constituencies too, adding that it was wrong for the former minister to tag it a ‘bribe.’
But in her reaction on Sunday, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said Mr Gbajabiamila’s claim that she and her aides injected their own projects into the budget was untrue.
She tweeted: “Those like Gbajabiamiala trying to introduce lies that myself and my aides put in our own projects and lawmakers were fighting with me on that basis are playing their usual cynical games and Nigerians are tired of that!
“Lies obscure the country’s problems and do not allow us to improve. There were and there still are politicians in the National Assembly trying to do the right thing. The book also points that out.
“Such well-meaning legislators should not allow their strident colleagues to twist matters and divert attention from the need to improve the country’s budget process so our young people can see a better side of their country.”