Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
A pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political group, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), has decried Nigeria’s increasing debt profile, saying it is ironic that the same Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who negotiated debt forgiveness for Nigeria seven years ago is also the same person spearheading Nigeria’s re-entry into another foreign debt trap.
The group which expressed worry over the development, recalled a recent alarm raised by the Director-General of Debt Management Office (DMO), Mr. Abraham Nwankwo, that Nigeria’s debt profile may hit $25 billion by 2015, disclosing that last year’s debt alone stood at $9 billion, while the figure would jump to 12.1 billion in 2013.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos yesterday, ARG Chairman, Hon. Olawale Oshun, said: “The document showed that the projected debt for 2014 would be $14.5 billion and $16.7 billion in 2015. Locally, the country would owe $6.48 billion in 2012,; $7.1 billion in 2013; $7.7billion in 2014 and $8.4 billion in 2015”, adding: “Nigeria’s debt profile is a source of concern to most Nigerians especially having just exited the Paris Club barely six years ago.”
Oshun further stated: “Sadly, the minister then in the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s cabinet who negotiated the $30 billion debt buy back, Dr. Ngozi Okonjio-Iweala, is the same person spearheading Nigeria’s re-entry into another foreign debt trap.”
He also queried what he described as “unpardonable level of marginalisation of Yoruba race under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan since its inception till the end of year 2012,” saying with verifiable evidence at their disposal “most routine appointments and recruitments into the public service under this administration completely short-change our people.”
Citing an instance of such marginalisation, Oshun said: “Out of the 792 cadet officers recently recruited for training at the Customs Training College (CTC) in Kano, only 45 cadets were recruited from the six South-western states of Nigeria compared to the 263 cadets recruited from the North-western Nigeria.”
According to him, “the North-central zone got 168 cadets, North-east 157, South-south 91 and South-eastern Nigeria was allocated 68 cadet officers,” insisting that “the evidence before us therefore shows that 5.8 per cent of the recruited cadets are from the South-west while the North-west took the lion share of 33.1 per cent of the lot and we ask: what exactly is happening here?
“The report of ethnic cleansing going on in the Aviation Ministry is fast reaching alarming proportions,” as he explained that “recently, we got reports that most of the key people sacked at the Ministry are of Yoruba extraction,” adding that, “findings have also indicated that out of the 75 appointments made, 49 of them are from the South-east zone alone” adding that “the illogical justification offered for this decision is that this is in line with the on-going transformation agenda,” asking “whether the marginalisation of a people is the new definition of transformation.”
He alleged “that there is a calculated attempt to relegate the Yoruba to the background, which we believe may not augur well for the advancement and development of the country.”
The group called on the Federal Character Commission to wake up from its slumber and right the wrongs that are being perpetuated by opportunists in high positions.
“We demand that the Commission should investigate all these allegations and similar allegations of discrimination against the Yoruba, especially in civil service appointments and promotions. We dare it to publish its findings and we are fully prepared to pursue our legitimate rights within Nigeria, without minding whose ox is gored.
“We will no longer fold our arms and watch other Nigerians with curious agenda to deprive our people of what rightly belongs to them, unless of course we are saying that this country only belongs to certain categories of people or to certain sections of the country,” he added.