Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesteray debunked claims that the schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State had been rescued.
She said this while Fielding questions from Cable News Network (CNN?s) Christiane Amanpour.
She admitted bad communication on the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, but vowed there would be safer schools in the Northeast.
?It is not true the girls, who have been in captivity for 80 days have been rescued. I don?t know how the misinformation on rescue of Chibok girls happened. However, it is not that the Federal Government is completely not doing anything.
?We are all parents. Everyday, I keep wondering how these parents feel. I have a daughter, if my daughter was taken, I won?t be able to stand it. The President has two daughters, we all feel sobered. We will be working hard to get you back. But when you come back, you should find Nigeria a different place.
?The issue is now what are we doing as a country to learn from this experience and make the Northeast better. We have instituted a school initiative with the help of former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. We are not just folding our hands, it?s one of the instruments we are employing to rehabilitate the schools so that when the girls come back, it will be a different learning experience for them.?
Speaking on the country?s economy, the minister said Nigeria?s economy has been growing at an incredible rate for some years now.
?It has been steady at a little over seven per cent in the last few years. We are seriously tackling the inequality problems we have at our hands right now. Though we recognize it is a global phenomenon, the issue in our country is lack of jobs for our young people and we are addressing this too.?
Commenting on the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State, Okonjo-Iweala said the election was free and fair. ?The incumbent governor did well, especially with bringing development to the state, but if the population does not believe in it, democracy allows for them to make their choice.
?Nigeria ought to be commended for conducting a free and fair election and the governor behaved in an exemplary manner. For the first time in Nigeria, a loser called his opponent and congratulated him. In every election, there are winners and losers and the losers can begin to dig in if they wish as to what went wrong.
?This feat is wrongly being misinterpreted in some quarters as a victory for stomach infrastructure, but it goes beyond that. In Ekiti State, one of the reforms the governor was carrying out was a competence test for teachers. Even in the U.S., when such was to be carried out, the teachers here too resisted. What I am feeling is that maybe, the communication to the grassroots of the government?s intention didn?t fly,? she noted.
When asked about the government?s stance on the war against corruption, she reiterated that corruption is a big issue in the country but the present administration is tackling this with wealth redistribution and job creation.
?We recognize that in Nigeria, corruption is our major problem. There is no getting away from that. It is a problem we are tackling with growing more equity in the system. Yes, it is a problem, but you cannot characterise Nigeria with corruption.
?Take for instance the missing or unaccounted funds the former CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, talked about, the $49 billion, which later became $20 billion, the President has already commissioned an independent audit and presently, an independent forensic investigation is being carried out. I want less impunity in Nigeria. People should be punished when they are caught misappropriating funds,? she added.
The minister also congratulated Sanusi on his ascension to the throne as the Emir of Kano. ?We are happy for him. This has been his dream, to be the Emir of Kano, which is one of the foremost traditional rulers in the North. We do hope together we would solve the problem of insurgency in the North.?