The coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has denied that she said the Nigerian economy will shut down by September if the National Assembly failed to pass the President Goodluck Jonathan’s amendment proposals to the 2013 budget.
She insisted that the economy is strong, robust, and that government was focused on resolving the problem, including several pipelines that have been shut down - to be restored to their full capacity.
The National Assembly had on Tuesday accused Okonjo-Iweala of deepening the row between the executive and the legislature over the 2013 budget amendment proposals.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents, Okonjo-Iweala said, “At no point in time did I say that the government is going to shut down or the country will shut down. The economy is strong, it is robust, we have our short term challenges, as you know, to dealing with reduced revenue due to the issue of oil theft which Mr. President is focusing on and is solving. There is a committee of governors that he and the vice president have set up to try and deal with this issue. We are confident that we will be dealing with it and bringing several pipelines that have shut down back into play when we work with the oil companies. What I did say is that we will not be able to pay salaries, and that is a very different situation, we are talking about. So this was a very misleading headline from a newspaper and we should not spend the time of national debate on none issues. At no time did I say the country is going to shut down, I said we will not be able to pay salaries and that remains a fact.
“It is absolutely untrue, we are not pitching anyone against anyone, we have been working with senators and House of Representatives members in a very collegial manner, we are working with them and because this headline was put out mischievously, but that was not the headline. We are working with them because we do have to solve the problems, that will enable us to move forward and it is being done in a collegial manner. So this is why the media has to be careful about the type of headlines they put on.”