Finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala got tremendous applause Weeekend as she was put in the shoes of late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo by former Abia state governor Orji Uzor Kalu.
Kalu who decried the torrent of attacks on the minister likened her role to that of Awolowo who was released from prison by Gen.Gowon and appointed Federal Commissioner for Finance and Vice- chairman of the Federal Executive Council[FEC].
He said,”Dr.Okonjo- Iweala’s plum job as Co-ordinating minister of the Economy is nothing new.She is only playing a role similar to that of Pa Obafemi Oyeniyi Awolowo from June 1967-June 1971.Call her ‘Primus inter pares'[First among equals] if you like.And like Awo,the woman never lobbied to be appointed in the first place.Those who do not feel comfortable with her can only end up chasing shadows.”
The ex-governor described those sponsoring anti-Okonjo-Iweala forces as soldiers of fortune who had nothing but destruction for the economy.
“Okonjo-Iweala did not create our problems.She came in as part of the solution.You can not manage the World Bank without being exceptional.These mercenaries will not allow her to settle down.Today they say other ministers are not happy with her,tomorrow they claim she has usurped Vice-President Namadi Sambo’s office.The game plan is to cause confusion by turning others against her.But i know, President Jonathan is having a good laugh.He brought and believes in her,”Kalu pointed out.
Kalu added that there could not be any plot against the Finance minister by her colleagues since they all had their briefs from the President.
“When Awo was Finance minister,there were other big names in Gowon’s cabinet-Aminu Kano,Tony Enahoro,Wenike Opurum Briggs,Shettima Ali Monguno,Joseph Sarwuan Tarka,Russel Dikko and Lateef Olufemi Okunnu-they never felt threatened.Nigeria needed an Awo to survive the war then.Today, we need an Okonjo-Iweala to maintain fiscal discipline,”he said.